By ADAM SHINDER
When Jake Salpietro got the green light to swing from Amsterdam Mohawks head coach Keith Griffin in a three-ball, no-strike count against Utica Brewers lefthanded Deshaun Hewitt, Salpietro's eyes grew wide with anticipation.
Maybe a little too much anticipation.
"I probably swung at ball four," Salpietro said.
He fouled that one off, and the next one, too, but with a full count he finally lined up the pitch he wanted it and launched it well over the leftfield wall at Shuttleworth Park for a three-run home run in the fourth inning Saturday that sparked Amsterdam to an 8-2 victory -- it's sixth in a row and 16th in the team's last 17 games.
"I was just trying to get my pitch," Salpietro said. "I thought I got it, and I put as good a swing as I could on it."
Blake Logan added a three-run homer of his own as part of a five-run seventh inning that blew the game wide open and confirmed the first win of the season for Mohawks (18-7) starting pitcher Connor Johnstone, who held Utica to to runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings.
Amsterdam only managed seven hits -- four of them infield singles -- against Utica's pitching duo of Hewitt and Shane Kemp, but key mistakes in the fourth and seventh innings allowed the Mohawks to sustain the two rallies that led to the longballs from Logan and Salpietro.
In the fourth, after Tom Kain had worked a leadoff walk, Logan slapped a grounder back to the mound, but Hewitt skipped his throw to second base while attempting to start a double play. Two batters later, Salpietro launched his second home run of the season to give the Mohawks a 3-1 lead.
"We had the confidence to let him swing 3-0," Griffin said. "We let him swing 3-0, 3-1, then 3-2 he hits it out."
In the seventh, with the Mohawks leading 3-2, John Razzino beat out a routine grounder to second for a single, moving Marcus Carson to third before JaVon Shelby's deep sacrifice fly to left brought Carson home. After a passed ball -- one of four let through by Brewers catcher Marcelo Sanchez -- moved Razzino to second, Niovel Ruiz Diaz mishandled Brendan Tracy's grounder, bringing in Razzino for a 5-2 lead and ended Hewitt's night after 5 2/3 innings.
Kemp entered and the Brewers' defensive troubles continued as shortstop Zachary Torriente's wild throw allowed Kain to reach, setting the stage for Logan's first homer of the year.
"I was trying to find a good pitch to handle and not do too much with it," Logan said.
"Lost in the whole deal was how hard Razzino went into first base," Griffin added. "That let us get that whole five-run inning going, and then Blake hit the big home run that kind of sealed the deal."
Johnstone made the lead stand up throughout what Griffin called the righthander's best game of the year, where he struck out five, walked two and needed just 91 pitches for his longest outing as a Mohawk. He allowed a run in the fourth when Hayden Kelly tripled and was singled in by Zach Hardy, but Hardy was later cut down trying to score on Jabari Gayle's single to right by a strong throw from Razzino.
Utica plated its second run on Cedric Mullins' two-out RBI single in the seventh, and with the tying and go-ahead runs on base, Griffin brought in lefthander Daniel Castro out of the bullpen. Three pitches later, Castro induced a weak grounder to third from Joe Daru to end the threat, the Mohawks piled on five insurance runs in the bottom of the inning and Castro combined with Randall to keep Utica off the board the rest of the way.
"I really believe that Castro's absolutely getting better and better," Griffin said. "It's great to see. Danny did a nice job coming out of the bullpen."
After an off day Sunday, the Mohawks -- who moved two games ahead of the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs for first place in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League East Division -- hit the road Monday for a doubleheader against the Albany Dutchmen.
"We just need to make sure we're ready to play Monday," Griffin said. "We've got a big stretch -- eight or nine games in about eight days against our division rivals. We need to make sure we're ready to play."
Follow ADAM SHINDER on Twitter at twitter.com/RecorderShinder