Adam Shinder/Recorder staff Albany Dutchmen outfielder Bradley Noland, right, dives back to first base ahead of the tag from Amsterdam Mohawks first baseman John Nogowski during Wednesday's game at Shuttleworth Park.
Adam Shinder/Recorder staff Amsterdam Mohawks head coach Keith Griffin (4) huddles with his infield during Wednesday's game against the Albany Dutchmen at Shuttleworth Park.
By ADAM SHINDER
Recorder Sports Staff
The Amsterdam Mohawks are taking baby steps forward in the early stages of the 2013 Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League season, but so far, they simply haven't been able to tip-toe around the potholes and pitfalls that have riddled their path.
After banging out 12 hits in Tuesday's loss to Mohawk Valley, the Mohawks worked their way to 10 hits Wednesday against the Albany Dutchmen at Shuttleworth Park, but struggles at the plate with men on base -- and problems with walks and errors in the field -- took their toll as a late rally fell short in a 6-5 setback that left Amsterdam coach Keith Griffin frustrated to the point he held the team for a nearly 15-minute meeting in their postgame huddle.
"We're just so inconsistent right now," Griffin said. "I thought we played well last night (against Mohawk Valley), we just lost the game, but tonight we come out and take a nap defensively, do some poor things defensively, it cost us, and when we need to have our best at-bat, we don't have our best at-bat."
Despite having two potential early rallies snuffed out by double plays, the Mohawks (1-3) fought back from a 6-2 deficit to pull within a run in the eighth inning with three runs against Dutchmen relief pitcher Thomas Belcher. But, after Brian Ruby's sacrifice fly pulled Amsterdam within 6-5 and moved the potential tying run to third base in the form of John Nogowski, Albany coach Nick Davey made the move to bring Bryan Seabrook out of the bullpen for a four-out save.
Seabrook walked Keith Skinner on four pitches to put the go-ahead run on base, but escaped the jam when he struck out Ronnie Bernick looking on an inside breaking ball. Seabrook again found himself in early trouble in the ninth inning when pinch-hitter Kyle Barrett reached on an infield single, but for the third and final time Wednesday, a double play doomed Amsterdam as when Ed Charlton struck out, Barrett was caught in a rundown between first and second base after trying to advance on a passed ball and doubled off. A soft line drive back to the mound from Colin Gay ended the game on the very next pitch.
"That's the problem right now. It's not the 12 hits last night or the 10 hits tonight, it's that when you need your best at-bat, you've got to be dialed in, tighten up the discipline and do a better job," Griffin said. "That's what we're lacking right now and we need to improve on."
Falling into a 2-0 hole through three innings, the Mohawks tied the game with a run each in the third and fourth, but Amsterdam starting pitcher Trey Wingenter -- who settled down after needing 56 pitches to get through the first two innings -- allowed a two-run double to former Fonda-Fultonville standout Luke Nethaway in the fifth. The two runners Nethaway drove in reached on a walk and an error, two problems that plagued the Mohawks throughout Wednesday night -- Wingenter walked five over five innings, while the Amsterdam defense made three errors behind him.
Albany added two more runs off reliever Zach Quayle when Zach Remillard smacked a two-run double in the sixth, and four relievers -- James Davitt, Raleigh Rushing, Belcher and Seabrook -- made the lead stand up over 5 1/3 innings after starter Andrew Bannon couldn't make it out of the fourth.
"I think we took advantage of some mistakes they made early, and I think for once this year, we had some guys step up in big situations with two outs," said Dutchmen coach Nick Davey. "It was a team win tonight."
For Griffin and the Mohawks, Wednesday night's result was a sign that, while the team may be peeking around the corner in the very early stages of the season, they haven't quite turned it yet.
"We're close. We're close. We're not there, but we're a work in progress," Griffin said. "I wish we could close the gap, start winning a few games, and that's what we need to do. We need to win some games so they understand what we're doing and that what we're doing really does work."