Michael Kelly/Recorder staff Amsterdam Mohawks catcher Alex DeBellis prepares to make a throw during Tuesday's game at Shuttleworth Park in the city of Amsterdam.
Michael Recorder staff Amsterdam Mohawks assistant coach Doug O'Brey, left, and head coach Keith Griffin are shown during Tuesday's game at Shuttleworth Park in the city of Amsterdam.
By MICHAEL KELLY
The Amsterdam Mohawks will not know until late tonight what team is visiting them for Friday's Game 1 of the PGCBL East Division Championship Series at Shuttleworth Park.
This does not seem to bother the squad's head coach one bit.
Asked Tuesday if it matters to him whether it is Albany or Mohawk Valley advancing from today's one-game playoff to take on his Mohawks, head coach Keith Griffin shook his head.
"No, not at all," he said. "If we play like we're supposed to, we're going to be beat either one of them."
Looking out at Shuttleworth Park's diamond, Griffin paused a moment before continuing.
"It's up to us," he said. "If we play right, we win."
That night, Griffin's Mohawks did just that, collecting 20 runs in a throttling of Mohawk Valley. The victory featured everything Griffin had wanted to see from his team, as the squad's batters collected 22 hits and its pitchers attacked the strike zone. Games like those are this year's Mohawks at their peak, Griffin said, but despite the team's PGCBL-record 36 regular-season wins, the coach said his main concern heading into the playoffs is making sure his team's indomitable "A" game shows up in consecutive best-of-three series.
"That's the uncontrollable thing as the coach," he said. "If I could write the script and get exactly what I wanted, I'd take that and see if somebody could beat us -- and I don't think that could happen.
"But," he continued, "I don't get to write a script. I have to coach the game they present me and sometimes they've presented me with a bad game. When I get that game, we're very beatable -- very beatable -- so we don't want that game to show up Friday."
With the way things have gone this week, there is little reason to think the Mohawks won't be prepared for Friday's action. Besides Wednesday's loss at Albany in a regular-season finale that was essentially meaningless, the Mohawks likely are in the midst of their best week of the season. In the four games played from Sunday to Tuesday, Amsterdam went undefeated, outscoring its opponents, 49-9.
Play like that has the Mohawks confident as they head into Friday's action. Third baseman Thomas Kain, on a tear at the plate of late, said the club is itching to get the postseason going.
"I feel like it's perfect timing for my swing right now," he said. "Hopefully it just rolls right into the playoffs. If I do my part and everyone does their part, we'll be dogpiling at the end.
"I think we can hold up against anyone, compete with anyone," added Kain. "We showed that all year."
Outfielder Marcus Carson said the Mohawks know they cannot rest on their laurels. One loss in the PGCBL playoffs puts a team on the brink -- a place the Mohawks are not used to being under Griffin, who has guided the franchise to four league titles in the past five years.
"We know we have to go out there and win, especially because of the franchise we play for," said Carson. "We know we have a reputation for being the Amsterdam Mohawks. We win titles."
Carson was quick to point out that the most important thing for the squad is just to continue playing its game and not let the pressure of the postseason or the franchise's history affect it. After a season in which the club led the PGCBL in batting average, extra-base hits and team ERA, the Mohawks know they have the advantage on any team they play during the next week.
And, if the Mohawks play out the script to Griffin's liking, the coach said this year's squad has a chance to vault itself to the top of the franchise's impressive history.
"If this team plays like it can and like it should, and is ready to play and we've got a hunger -- a burning desire -- to be the champions, this will be the best team we've ever had," Griffin said.
Follow MICHAEL KELLY on Twitter at twitter.com/RecorderMK