By ADAM SHINDER
The Amsterdam Mohawks may still be a game shy of the one-third point of the 2014 Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League season, but that hasn't stopped the team from adding some new blood to the lineup – and it was just in the nick of time.
Season-ending injuries to Fonda native Luke Nethaway and infielder Connor Heady caused the Mohawks to find last-minute reinforcements, and they've integrated brilliantly. Since joining the team last weekend, John Razzino has shot up the PGCBL's offensive leaderboards, while catcher Alex DeBellis and third baseman Thomas Kain joined the team Saturday night and played key roles in a 13-2 thrashing of the Adirondack Trail Blazers at Shuttleworth Park.
“We lost two guys that we thought were gonna be really good players for us,” Amsterdam Mohawks coach Keith Griffin said. “We were lucky enough to find a few guys to come in and take their place.”
Razzino went 4-for-4 with a home run and five runs batted in to move into the PGCBL lead with 13 RBIs despite having played in just eight games. Razzino's remarkable Saturday night followed his late-game heroics Friday night on the road against Adirondack, when he stole home to tie the game in the top of the ninth before the Mohawks won the game, 6-4, in the 10th.
DeBellis and Kain – both from Lynn University in Florida – combined for five hits on their first night in Amsterdam. DeBellis went 3-for-5, capping the night with a solo home run in the eighth inning, while Kain went 2-for-5 with an RBI double. JaVon Shelby added a pair of doubles and drove in three runs for the Mohawks (9-6), while Jonathan Pryor doubled, drove in a run and scored three times as Amsterdam picked up its seventh straight win and leapfrogged Albany for second place behind Mohawk Valley in the PGCBL East Division.
“We've played well. You can't look back, and we gave some games away earlier because we couldn't get a hit, but we've made some nice improvements and some nice adjustments,” Griffin said. “(Team president Brian Spagnola) did a really good job of finding us some players that can help us out.”
The Mohawks didn't make the 1,257 fans at Shuttleworth Park wait until the postgame fireworks show to see some combustion, as Shelby's two-run double kickstarted a three-run first inning against Adirondack starter Jesse Whitmeyer.
Amsterdam piled on in the bottom of the second, with Pryor getting hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Shelby lofting a sacrifice fly before Razzino punctuated the early rush with his first homer of the season, a long three-run blast that easily cleared the high wall in leftfield.
Razzino added three more singles before the night was done, driving in two more runs in the seventh inning. In just a week with the team, Razzino's hard-nosed, heads-up style of play has earned plenty of praise from Griffin.
“He just plays so hard. You watch him play, you watch how he conducts himself with the energy and the effort he brings, you're not surprised when he does that,” Griffin said. “He's a joy to coach, I'll tell you that, because he plays so dadgum hard.”
Josh Gardiner drove in a run on a fielder's choice in the third inning and Kain smashed an RBI double in the fifth, before DeBellis' solo blast to left-center off Trail Blazers reliever Bryan McGuire capped the scoring. The Mohawks set season highs with 15 hits and 13 runs, though that could've been even more as a Shelby double that was ruled to have hit the top of the wall in right before Gardiner was thrown out at the plate to end the inning, though it appeared the ball may have cleared the fence, hit the top of the bounce house beyond the wall and landed back in the field of play.
“Our guys that've been here the whole time are buying in to what we want to do and they're swinging the bat better,” Griffin said. “We've just got to keep getting better, and if we do that, we know what happens then – we'll have a good baseball team.”
Taylor Blatch picked up the win for Amsterdam, limiting Adirondack to a run on five hits with seven strikeouts over six innings before Andy Ward and Joe Randall finished out the final three innings. The Mohawks will look to run their win streak to eight games tonight when they hit the road for the start of a home-and-home series with the Utica Brewers.
Follow ADAM SHINDER on Twitter at twitter.com/RecorderShinder