Dave Wojeski / For The Recorder 6/10/2014 Amsterdam Assignment Amsterdam's Connor Heady (R) high fives teammate Luke Nethaway after scoring during their game against Albany on Tuesday night at Shuttleworth Park.
Dave Wojeski / For The Recorder 6/10/2014 Amsterdam Assignment Mohawks pitcher EJ Ashworth delivers a pitch to an Albany batter during their game on Tuesday night at Shuttleworth Park.
Dave Wojeski / For The Recorder 6/10/2014 Amsterdam Assignment Mohawks second baseman, Josh Gardiner reaches to tag Albany's Adam Lee during a steal attempt in their game on Tuesday night at Shuttleworth Park.
Dave Wojeski / For The Recorder Mohawks head coach, Keith Griffin gathers with the batter and base runners during a time out in their game against Albany on Tuesday night at Shuttleworth Park.
By ADAM SHINDER
E.J. Ashworth's first offering Tuesday night was a pitcher's worst nightmare. Everything after that, on the other hand, worked like a dream.
Ashworth began his second start of the summer for the Amsterdam Mohawks on the wrong foot, grooving a fastball on the first pitch of the game that Albany Dutchmen leadoff man Will Miller turned on and launched over the left field wall at Shuttleworth Park for a home run.
"I just poured it in there the first pitch, thinking he wouldn't swing," Ashworth said. "He put a good swing on it."
That was just about all the Dutchmen would get, as Ashworth settled down to allow just three more hits over six innings, then got the help some brilliant defense behind him and timely contributions at the plate as Amsterdam pulled away for a 6-1 victory over their Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League East Division rivals.
"E.J. really, really kept himself together after he could've caved in a little," Mohawks coach Keith Griffin said. "He didn't, and he did a great job."
Ashworth struck out four and walked one to pick up his first win of the season before relievers John McCarren and Joe Randall recorded the final nine outs in succession to give the Mohawks (2-3) their first home win of the season and their second straight victory after three straight 3-2 losses to open the summer.
"I thought we really threw the ball well," Griffin said. "All three guys pounded the zone with a bunch of strikes. Great job pitching."
Outfielder Jack Czeszewski, added to the Amsterdam roster Thursday just before the season opener, continued his hot hitting with a 2-for-5 effort that included a pair of doubles and three runs batted in. His two-run double in the second inning gave the Mohawks the lead for good and continued a hot start that's seen him solidify the leadoff spot in the Amsterdam lineup by hitting .400 through five games.
"He's been a great player for us from day one," Griffin said. "He's played well. We just need him to keep developing and getting better, and if we do that, we'll be in good shape."
Czeszewski's two-out, two-run double to the gap in left-center plated erased the early deficit from Miller's leadoff blast. The Mohawks added two more runs in the third inning thanks to a throwing error -- one of four committed by the Dutchmen Tuesday night -- and a Connor Heady RBI single to make it 4-1 and end Albany starter Steven Ghiardi's night after 63 pitches over a laborous three frames.
Another RBI double from Czeszewski in the sixth and a Blake Logan RBI single in the seventh provided the insurance as the Mohawks handed the East-leading Dutchmen (5-1) their first loss of the season.
"We didn't play good defense. We didn't at all," Albany coach Nick Davey said. "We had four errors, and we've got to clean it up and be a little better there."
Meanwhile, Ashworth settled into a groove after his early hiccup, needing just 71 pitches to cruise through six innings. He was helped by a terrific defensive effort that saw the Mohawks turn inning-ending double plays in the fourth and fifth while also getting a couple of spectacular plays behind him to keep the Dutchmen off the board.
In the second inning, second baseman Josh Gardiner's sliding stop of a Danny Hrbek grounder likely saved a run, but it was Hrbek's next at-bat in the fifth that saw the highlight of the night. With a runner on first and nobody out, Hrbek ripped the first pitch he saw into the gap in left-center, seemingly destined for an RBI double.
Mohawks centerfielder Marcus Carson clearly had other ideas. Breaking into a dead sprint, Carson laid out his full 5-foot-8 frame and somehow came down with a spectacular diving catch as he crashed to the outfield grass.
"I knew it was gonna go over my head, so I just put my head down and kind've just went for it," Carson said.
"ESPN Top 10, for sure," Ashworth added.
Besides Carson's sensational catch, the combination of Ashworth, McCarren and Randall kept the drama to a minimum as the Mohawks could feel momentum building for the first time this season heading into tonight's 7:05 road game against the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs.
"We're starting to turn around," Czeszewski said. "We're starting to swing pretty good. I got a couple balls to hit, and everyone else is starting to swing, too. We had to get used to the wood bats and some of the pitching. I think we'll start to get on a roll right now."
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