PGCBL Playoff Rundown - August 2, 2013

Elmira's Victor Diaz (ODU) pitched a two-hit shutout over eight innings on Thursday night at Newark. Photo courtesy Dan Hickling

NEWARK, N.Y. – Victor Diaz (Old Dominion) pitched a two-hit shutout through eight innings and the Elmira Pioneers strung together five runs on seven hits to defeat the Newark Pilots, 5-0, in the opening round of the 2013 PGCBL playoffs on Thursday night at Colburn Park. With the win, Elmira punched a ticket to the West Division finals where it will meet Watertown for the right to advance to the PGCBL Championship Series.

The story of the game was Elmira’s Victor Diaz. The 21-year-old from Perth Amboy, N.J., silenced a Newark offense that had scored 22 runs total in its final two regular season games. Diaz retired the first 18 Newark batters he faced as he carried a perfect game into the seventh inning. The Elmira starter recorded his 19th-straight out when he forced Jeff Edwards (Valparaiso) to ground out to open the bottom of the seventh. A one-out walk to Sam Fox (Pomona-Pitzer) ended Diaz’s bid for PGCBL playoff perfection however he quickly induced an inning-ending double play ground out.

Following a three-run surge by the Pioneers in the top of the eighth inning that helped Elmira open up a 5-0 lead, Diaz returned to the mound. He seated Newark’s first two batters of the inning on a strikeout and a fly out. Josh Ludwig (Rochester) then smacked a two-out single into right field to give the Pilots their first hit and second base runner of the game. Chad Adams (Saint Rose) followed with a base hit into right field that was misplayed and allowed Ludwig to reach third and Adams second. Diaz pitched his way out of the inning and recorded his 24th out of the night on a comebacker.

The rising redshirt junior from Old Dominion yielded two singles, walked one and struck out five. He was perfect through 6.1 innings and pitched a no-hitter for 7.2 frames. Parker Curry (Samford) retired the side in order in the ninth.

Taylor Hillson (Mansfield H.S.) provided all of the offense Diaz would require in the third inning. Brian Bashara (Old Dominion) singled to start the top of the third and moved to second on a Colby Gee (Ithaca) sacrifice bunt. The next batter, Hillson, smashed a single into right-center field that plated Bashara from second with the eventual game-winning run.

Chris Kalousdian (Manhattan) and Spencer Henderson (UC Davis) combined to increase Elmira’s edge to 2-0 in the sixth. Kalousdian reached first on an error, raced to second on a wild pitch and then scored on a one-out single into right-center field by Henderson.

Elmira put the game out of reach with three runs on one hit and three Newark errors in the eighth. With Victor Diaz’s no-hit shutout still intact, Elmira's Taylor Hillson drew a lead-off walk. Chris Kalousdian blasted a double into left field that plated Hillson all the way from first. An error on a ball hit by Spencer Henderson allowed Kalousdian to score with the Pios’ fourth run and then a throwing error on a stolen base attempt brought home Henderson with the final tally of the night.

Seven different Pioneers had one hit apiece in the one hour and 50-minute game. Chris Kalousdian recorded two of Elmira’s five runs and finished 1-for-4 with one RBI. Taylor Hillson had one hit, one RBI, one walk and one run scored and Spencer Henderson was 1-for-4 with one RBI and one run scored.

Newark starting pitcher Andrew Sanders (Ithaca) suffered the loss. He pitched 6.2 innings and conceded two runs, one earned, on six hits. Sanders walked one and struck out six in his first overall defeat this summer between the regular season and playoffs.

LITTLE FALLS, N.Y. – For the second time in less than 24 hours, the Albany Dutchmen prevailed by a score of 6-5 in an extra-inning game to keep their season alive. Luke Nethaway (Saint Rose) scored on a bases-loaded walk to Tyler Orris (Millersville) in the top of the 11th inning to propel the Dutchmen on to a 6-5 victory over the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs on Thursday night at Veterans Memorial Park. Albany will next face nationally-ranked Amsterdam in the best-of-three East Division finals beginning on Friday night at Amsterdam’s Shuttleworth Park.

The Dutchmen qualified for the league playoffs just after midnight on Thursday morning . Albany pulled out a 6-5 victory over the Glens Falls Golden Eagles in 16 innings on the final night of the regular season to earn its first-ever postseason bid.

Albany’s Matthew Dacey (Richmond 2013-14) broke a 4-4 tie with Mohawk Valley in the top of the seventh inning with a solo home run, his seventh overall of the summer. Mohawk Valley came back to level the score in the home half of the eighth on an RBI single by Casey Rodrigue (LSU Eunice) that scored Dalton Herrington (ULM) from second.

The game remained deadlock at five until the 11th inning. Nick Davey’s Dutchmen used a two-out rally to take a one-run lead. Mohawk Valley’s Keegan Long (Saint Joseph’s, Ind.) retired two of the first three Albany batters in the 11th but allowed a one-out single to Luke Nethaway (Saint Rose). Anthony Marks (Coastal Carolina) kept the inning alive for the Dutchmen with a two-out single that pushed Nethaway to second. Tyler Bray (ULM) replaced Keegan Long on the mound and walked Brad Noland (North Alabama) to load the bases. Tyler Orris followed with a walk that forced home Nethaway with the go-ahead run. Bray limited the damage to just one run allowed; he retired the next batter, Brian Ruhm (UC Davis), on a fly out to end the inning.

Mohawk Valley would not go do down without a fight. Jordan Friend (Alabama A&M) worked a lead-off walk against Charles Parslow (Hudson Valley C.C.) to open the bottom of the 11th and then moved to second on a Sam Dexter (Southern Maine) sacrifice bunt. With the potential tying run on second, Albany head coach Nick Davey summoned Andrew Bannon (Skidmore) out of the bullpen. Bannon forced Mike Fischer (Columbia) to ground out for the second out of the inning but Friend advanced to third. A two-out walk to Jordan Serena (Columbia) put the potential winning run on base. Bryan Carr (Saint Rose), normally a starter, came out of the bullpen for the second night in a row. He struck out Willie Shaw (William & Mary) to end the game and give the Dutchmen their first-ever playoff win. 

Albany out-hit Mohawk Valley, 12-8, and took advantage of six walks. Four Dutchmen had multi-hit games led by Zach Remillard (Coastal Carolina) who went 3-for-4 with one walk and one run scored. Luke Nethaway and Chris Suseck (Coastal Carolina) each had two hits and scored one run. Justin Brock (Franklin Pierce) tallied two of Albany’s six runs and drove in another on one hit. Matt Dacey finished 2-for-4 with a home run and Tyler Orris walked twice.

Albany relievers Thomas Belcher (Indiana), Charles Parslow, Andrew Bannon and Bryan Carr combined to pitch 3.1 scoreless innings out of the bullpen. Belcher seated six of the eight batters he faced between the eighth and 10th innings. Starter Matt Gallup (Hudson Valley C.C.) conceded four runs over the first three frames but settled down to shut out Mohawk Valley over the next four innings. He allowed four runs, three earned, on five hits, walked one and struck out five in seven innings pitched.

Mohawk Valley reliever Keegan Long, pitching on three days’ rest, took the loss. Long started at Amsterdam on Monday night and pitched into the ninth inning in 4-3 defeat. Thursday, he relieved Jared Dye (ULM) in the fifth and pitched 6.2 innings. Long struck out six and allowed two runs on seven hits. Dye lasted four just four frames for the Dawgs. He allowed four runs, three earned, on five hits, walked three and struck out one.

Casey Rodrigue was Mohawk Valley’s top offensive performer. He drove in two runs on three hits for the Dawgs; both on game-tying RBI singles. Dalton Herrington (ULM) went 2-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI triple.

Thursday’s game started about 45 minutes late due to thunderstorms that rolled through Little Falls in the late afternoon/early evening. Mohawk Valley jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Jordan Serena (Columbia) reached safely on a two-base throwing error to start the frame and then scored on a Willie Shaw (William & Mary) double into right-center field.

Albany roared back in the top of the second with three runs on three hits. Three-straight hits to start the frame by Zach Remillard, Chris Suseck and Justin Brock tied the game for Albany. Brock’s single down the left-field line plated Remillard with the first run of the night for the Dutchmen. The next batter, Luke Nethaway, sacrificed Suseck and Brock into scoring position. Nick Morton (Trinity, Texas) brought in Suseck with the go-ahead run for the Dutchmen on a ground out to the left side. Albany increased its' lead to two later in the inning on an attempted double steal which resulted in an inning-ending out at second but not before Justin Brock could score Albany’s third run.

Mohawk Valley answered Albany’s three-run rally in the second with its own three-run rally in the third. Willie Shaw drew a one-out walk and then scored from first on a triple into deep right field by Dalton Herrington. Casey Rodrigue collected his first of two game-tying RBI hits with a bunt single to plate Herrington. Rodrigue stole second and then dashed home with Mohawk Valley’s go-ahead run on a Craig Lepre (Albany) single into right field.

The Dutchmen, playing in their fifth game in three days, managed a 4-4 tie in the fourth. Justin Brock reached first on an error, was bunted over to second by Luke Nethaway and then stole third. Following an infield hit by Nick Morton, Anthony Marks lifted a fly ball into right field that was deep enough to score Brock from third on a sacrifice fly.

*Both road teams won on Thursday night. All-time in the PGCBL playoffs, road teams are 11-6. The best year for road teams was 2011 – visiting teams won five of eight playoff games that season including all three in the PGCBL Championship Series.

*All three extra-inning playoff games in league history have lasted 11 innings. In all three games, the road team has prevailed.

*Elmira recorded the first shutout in PGCBL playoff history.

*Elmira’s game with Newark was one of the fastest nine-inning games in league history. The tilt took one hour and 50 minutes to complete. That edges out a one hour, 51-minute game from last July in which Amsterdam defeated Albany, 1-0, at Shuttleworth Park.

*Better playoff pitching performance? Victor Diaz carrying a no-hitter into the eighth at Newark on Thursday night or Mark Leiter’s 13-strikeout complete game for Amsterdam last August against Mohawk Valley?

*Over the last two years, three first-time playoff participants have won their first postseason game. Last summer, Mohawk Valley, in its first PGCBL playoff appearance, defeated Amsterdam in the first game of a best-of-three series. Thursday night, first-time PGCBL playoff participants Elmira and Albany were both winners.

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