Dave Wojeski/For The Recorder Amsterdam's Jonathan Pryor is greeted by teammates after scoring the tying run in the bottom of the fifth inning against Utica on Monday evening at Shuttleworth Park.
Dave Wojeski/For The Recorder Amsterdam second baseman JaVon Shelby turns a double play against Utica's Anthony Villa their game against on Monday evening at Shuttleworth Park.
Dave Wojeski/For The Recorder Infield umpire Bill Decker blows a bubble between batters during the Mohawks game against Utica on Monday evening at Shuttleworth Park.
By ADAM SHINDER
Even with a reputation for being rather hitter-friendly, it's still a rare sight to see someone send the ball soaring over the centerfield fence at Shuttleworth Park.
Then again, John Razzino's barely been here a week, so maybe nobody's told him yet.
Razzino's solo blast off DeShaun Hewitt cleared the wall just to the right of straightaway center to give the Amsterdam Mohawks the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning Monday night against the Utica Brewers, and it sparked an offensive surge that turned a pitchers' duel into a comfortable cruise to the Mohawks' ninth consecutive victory with a 7-1 decision.
"My first couple at-bats, I kind've rolled over on some balls," Razzino said. "I was just thinking to myself, 'Hit the ball back up the middle,' and I ended up getting a ball elevated; I hit it pretty well and it carried a long way."
It carried such a long way that it even surprised Mohawks head coach Keith Griffin, who said in his six years with the team, he's rarely seen a player give the ball that deep of a ride to center at Shuttleworth.
"I swear, don't know in six years if I've seen a ball hit further than that to centerfield here," Griffin said.
Razzino's hit was followed by two more runs in the inning on a Brendan Tracy RBI single and a passed ball that allowed Jonathan Pryor to score, chasing Hewitt after 5 2/3 innings and making a winner out of Amsterdam (11-6) starter Brandon Whitmore, who allowed an unearned run in the first inning and scattered six hits in six solid innings.
The Mohawks added three more runs in the eighth inning, and John McCarren turned in a dominant outing out of the bullpen, retiring all nine hitters he faced and striking out six over three innings to pick up the save.
"We made some adjustments and we finally got it going late," Griffin said. "It's just a constant pressure game, and finally we kind've got to it late in the game and busted it open."
Utica got its lone run of the game early on a two-out RBI double from cleanup hitter Hayden Kelly that came after Brewers leadoff man Cedric Mullins was gifted second base on the second pitch of the game when Amsterdam center fielder Jack Czeszewski mishandled a flyball.
Beyond that, Whitmore allowed just two more hits and twice induced inning-ending double plays, including in the sixth when Utica loaded the bases with nobody out before Kelly grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.
"We did some things wrong in that first inning," Griffin said. "We didn't have a catch in center and we threw the wrong pitch to a guy. Other than that, I thought Brandon was outstanding."
Amsterdam struggled early against Utica's Hewitt, managing just two hits through the first four innings until Jonathan Pryor legged out a leadoff double in the fifth and Jake Salpietro drove him home two batters later on a long RBI single off the top of the leftfield fence.
Razzino's leadoff homer in the sixth kickstarted the three-run inning that gave the Mohawks the lead for good and continued the outfielder's torrid start to his Mohawks campaign. In his 10 games since joining the team, Razzino is hitting an even .400 with two homers and leads the PGCBL for the whole season with 14 RBIs.
"To be getting RBIs, you've got to have guys on in front of you," Razzino said. "They've been getting on, and I've been delivering. Hopefully, I can keep delivering and we can keep winning some games."
Salpietro added a sacrifice fly to deep center and Joey Aiola drilled a two-run triple to add some extra cushion for McCarren -- not that he needed it. The right-handed reliever needed just 34 pitches to mow through nine Utica batters over three innings, and has allowed just two hits over seven shutout innings in his last two relief appearances.
"McCarren, my lord," Griffin said. "Just unbelievable, the stuff he's done out of the bullpen. It was awesome."
With nine wins in a row and the Glens Falls Golden Eagles coming to Shuttleworth Park tonight for a 6:35 p.m. game, the vibe in the Mohawks dugout is solid just past the one-third point of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League season.
"It's kind've been how it's been going the last couple weeks," Razzino said. "Nine in a row now, and we haven't been blowing everybody out. We've had a few games we've had to come back in, and we've done a good job with it. I look forward to keeping it rolling."
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