The #6 nationally ranked Amsterdam Mohawks were the best team in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League from beginning to end and they capped off a magical season with their franchise record 39th win of the year in completing a championship series sweep of the Glens Falls Golden Eagles.
The 13-6 victory at Glens Falls in Game Two on Wednesday night followed a 7-1 win in the series opener on Tuesday. And the large contingent of Mohawks fans who traveled up the Northway to witness the moment got to cheer Keith Griffin's third league championship with Amsterdam in his four years at the helm.
Chandler Shephard (Kentucky) came out of the bullpen for his first relief appearance of the year. The league's top pitcher in the regular season was going on just three days rest but racked up 10 strikeouts in 5.2 innings of duty to secure the last win of the year. He was removed with two outs in the ninth inning to a roaring ovation from his teammates and the Amsterdam fans and then Connor Kaden (Wake Forest) struck out Chase Griffin (Georgia Southern) to cue the celebration.
Shephard had won game two of the playoffs at Mohawk Valley on Saturday and Keith Griffin was determined to somehow get Shephard one more game no matter what.
Trailing 2-0 early in the game, Amsterdam would score two runs in the third to tie the game including an RBI triple by Ed Charlton (NJIT) that drove in Chase Williamson (Auburn) who had doubled. And then they would light it up for a big seven rally in the fourth to open a wide 9-2 lead that had Keith Griffin turning to his ace, Shephard, to close it out the rest of the way.
Chase Williamson, the team's closer with eight saves this year, was inserted as the designated hitter and delivered from the nine-hole with a 4-for-5 game and three RBI's. Giuseppe Papaccio (Seton Hall) had a 2-for-5 game with a double and a triple and two RBI's on a ground-rule double on the team's big fourth inning rally.
Mike Vigliarolo (St. Louis) was tops for the Golden Eagles with three RBI's including a two-run single in the fifth that helped get Glens Falls back into the game at 9-4 and eventually 9-5.
But Amsterdam would score four more times in the eighth to stretch the lead to 13-5 and that was all for the Golden Eagles' comeback dreams.
This was the fifth season in a row pairing Amsterdam against Glens Falls in the post-season but was the first meeting between the two rivals in the championships. The Mohawks have eliminated Glens Falls from the playoffs the last four years in a row, pulling off sweeps each time.
Amsterdam clinched titles in 2010 at the Elmira Pioneers and in 2009 at the Hornell Dodgers. Last year, Amsterdam lost the 2011 championship series on the last day to the Newark Pilots. But the Mohawks bounced right back a year later with a franchise-record 35 wins to cruise their way to a regular season title and then win four straight in the post-season after losing their debut playoff game to Mohawk Valley last Friday.
The Mohawks were 35-12 in the regular season and had a combined record of 39-13 overall.
After the game, league president Jeff Kunion presented manager Keith Griffin and general manager Brian Spagnola with the championship trophy which was then shared with the rest of the team. They posed for a team photo and then exchanged hand-shakes and huge while also thanking all the fans and relatives who traveled up to Glens Falls for the game.
Yesterday after the game, the team stayed around long after the contest to thank all of the fans in what was to be their last home of the season.
It is their fifth championship in Amsterdam in their 10th Anniversary season in the Rug City. The Mohawks have won championships in 2012, 2010, 2009 and also in 2004 and 2003. Their first ever championship was in 1988 as the Schenectedy Mohawks.
Glens Falls' frustrations boiled over in the seventh inning when they were trailing 9-5. Kevin Meyers was ejected from the game after arguing his strikeout which was Chandler Shephard's ninth of the night. Then long-time Golden Eagles manager John Mayotte escalated the argument and got himself tossed as well.
That was just an aside to a disappointing finish for an otherwise solid Glens Falls season who had their heads held high after finishing in second place in the PGCBL with a 27-20 mark and were the only team to hold a winning record against the Mohawks in the regular season.
Congratulations to the 2012 Champion Amsterdam Mohawks!!!
And thanks for supporting us all season long. We'll be back in 2013 looking to defend our title and we are excited to see you there again.
Come to Shuttleworth Park this Saturday and the next Saturday for big events of the non-baseball variety.
This Saturday it's boxing all day long with over 12 bouts on the card including some local fighters.
Next Saturday it's the Car and Bike show from 12 until 11pm with lots of great bands and music as well as some terrific food and fun time all for only $10 for an all-day pass.