Michael Kelly/Recorder staff Amsterdam Mohawks second baseman Josh Gardiner is shown in the on-deck circle during Tuesday's game at the city's Shuttleworth Park against Mohawk Valley.
Michael Kelly/Recorder staff Amsterdam Mohawks pitcher Ryan Clark, left, greets outfielder John Razzino after the latter threw out a runner to end the first inning of Tuesday's game at the city's Shuttleworth Park against Mohawk Valley.
Michael Kelly/Recorder staff The Amsterdam Mohawks honored their players' host families before Tuesday's game at the city's Shuttleworth Park against Mohawk Valley. Shown, from left, are: Blake Logan, Joe Purritano, Bob Adamson, Brendan Tracy and Jack Cseszewski. Adamson, from Amsterdam, has been a longtime host parent for the Mohawks.
By MICHAEL KELLY
With a display of offensive might and several dazzling defensive plays in a 20-5 win against the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs, the Amsterdam Mohawks recorded their record-breaking 36th win of the season Tuesday at Shuttleworth Park.
The milestone victory left Mohawks head coach Keith Griffin with a simple takeaway: If Amsterdam brings its best game when the playoffs start Friday, a fifth championship in six years is there for the taking.
"This thing is solely up to us," said Griffin. "If we play right, we'll win it."
The Mohawks (36-10) previously held the PGCBL mark for most wins in a regular season with 35, a record courtesy of the 2012 squad.
In the penultimate game of the regular season, Amsterdam broke its own record with ease, as the club collected 22 hits in what became a laugher for the squad.
Left fielder John Razzino got the fun started in closing the first inning. After catching a fly ball in left-centerfield, he rocketed the ball to catcher Alex DeBellis, who tagged out Mohawk Valley's (24-19) Colin Hawk at the plate to complete the inning-ending double play.
"I know Razzino has a really good arm and he's done that before, so I was expecting a good throw," said DeBellis. "That play set the tone for the game."
Soon after, the Mohawks' offense got to work. Amsterdam scored four runs in the second inning, two in the third, a single run in the fourth, and collected six in the fifth. The six-spot was highlighted with back-to-back run scoring hits, as second baseman Josh Gardiner connected for a three-run double and Razzino followed with a two-run home run.
Razzino also had an RBI single in the fourth inning. In all, he was 2-for-4 with three RBIs and two stolen bases.
Later, the Mohawks added a run in the seventh inning and then turned the game's laugh track up to full volume with a six-run eighth, an inning which featured center fielder Marcus Carson's two-run triple and Gardiner's two-run home run, his first round-tripper of the season.
"Everything was just clicking," Gardiner said of his team's night at the plate.
"Everybody was swinging well," said DeBellis. "Everybody must have had one or two hits, at least. It was a team effort."
Eight Mohawks had multiple hits. Besides Razzino's effort, Gardiner was 4-for-5 with six RBIs, a home run and a double; DeBellis was 4-for-5, with a pair of run-scoring doubles; Carson went 3-for-5 with four RBIs and four runs scored; and, shortstop Joey Aiola, third baseman Thomas Kain, right fielder Jonathan Pryor and first baseman Joe Purritano each had two-hit nights.
"Our best guys played their best," said Griffin. "Gardiner was incredible, Razzino was incredible, DeBellis was awesome, we got stuff out of Pryor, (and) Marcus Carson was incredible."
On the mound, the Mohawks used four pitchers while allowing three earned runs. Andy Ward evened his record at 2-2 with two innings of work in which he allowed those earned runs, while Joe Randall, Daniel Castro and Zach Breen combined to toss seven innings without allowing an earned run. In all, the foursome struck out seven DiamondDawgs.
Michael DeCarlo took the loss for Mohawk Valley, allowing 13 runs -- all earned -- on 15 hits in 4 2-3 innings of work.
In all, a reported 1,424 fans took in the Mohawks' record-breaking win. The victory pushed Amsterdam's lead in the PGCBL East Division to 10.5 games.
Amsterdam is scheduled to wrap up its regular season tonight in Albany. Then, the club will await the result of Thursday's one-game playoff between Albany and Mohawk Valley; the winner of that game will take on the Mohawks at Shuttleworth Park Friday in Game 1 of the PGCBL East Division Championship Series.
Griffin said "there's a really good chance" that his club will face Mohawk Valley in the postseason. Knowing that is a possibility, Gardiner did not hesitate when asked about the importance of Tuesday's final meeting of the regular season with the DiamondDawgs.
"Oh, it was a message game," Gardiner said.
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