Adam Shinder/Recorder staff Amsterdam Mohawks pitcher Ryan Clark throws during a bullpen session Monday at Shuttleworth Park. Clark will be Amsterdam's starter in Game 1 of the PGCBL Championship Series.
Adam Shinder/Recorder staff Amsterdam Mohawks catcher Blake Logan takes batting practice Monday at Shuttleworth Park.
Adam Shinder/Recorder staff Amsterdam Mohawks catcher Alex DeBellis secures the ball while catching a bullpen session Monday at Shuttleworth Park.
Adam Shinder/Recorder staff Amsterdam Mohawks outfielder Jake Salpietro takes batting practice Monday at Shuttleworth Park.
By ADAM SHINDER
Like it or not, the Amsterdam Mohawks are still playing the waiting game.
When they took the field Monday afternoon at Shuttleworth Park for a 90-minute shakedown, it was still up in the air as to when the Mohawks would host Game 1 of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League Championship Series. By a little after 9 p.m., when the Newark Pilots had forced a Game 3 in their West Division Finals series with the Elmira Pioneers, the schedule was finally set.
The Mohawks have one more day of waiting before going after a third straight PGCBL title.
"We're looking forward to playing, but a few days off is nice, especially because it's been a long summer with a lot of games on a lot of days in a row," Mohawks outfielder John Razzino said. "It never hurts to have a couple days off. I think too many days can be a bad thing, but a couple days off here and there I think is a good thing."
Game 1 of the championship series will be Wednesday night at 6:35 at Shuttleworth Park against the winner of the Newark-Elmira series. While the entire Mohawks team was anxious Monday to find out when they'd next be scheduled to play, it was perhaps most important to pitcher Ryan Clark, who is slated to be the team's Game 1 starter.
"You always have your own little routine, and I don't know what day to get into it," Clark said. "Do I do it tonight, tomorrow? I'm just looking forward to throwing again. It's been a while."
Clark, who went 3-0 with a 2.31 earned run average in seven regular season starts, hasn't seen game action since his last start, July 26 against the Adirondack Trail Blazers, when he didn't factor in the decision after allowing a season-worst five runs on 11 hits in five innings.
He'll take the ball Wednesday on a full 10 days of rest, a luxury at this late stage of the season after all the pitching he's done between the Mohawks and his college work at UNC-Greensboro.
"It kind of helps with pitching a little bit," Clark said. "Especially for some of us starters, because we started in college and some of us are up to 100, 130 innings. It's good to give our arms a little rest."
While Clark will be the Mohawks' best-rested player, he'll be far from the only one who's fresh. With three full days off between sweeping Mohawk Valley in the East Division Finals and the start of the championship series, the entire team -- including a bullpen that was needed for just four innings in two games against Mohawk Valley -- will be available against the Pilots or Pioneers.
"We had a good series, we didn't use too much pitching and that make our bullpen even stronger," Clark said. "I'm just hoping we don't come out flat. Sometimes, when people have a break, they lay down a little bit and don't come out, but I think we will come out strong."
"Whoever we play is who we're gonna play -- whether we play (tonight) or the following day," Razzino added. "It really doesn't matter to us, because our pitchers are lined up regardless of when it is."
With a potential Game 3 slated for Friday in Amsterdam, Mohawks head coach Keith Griffin said the one real concern with the schedule is with players who may have travel scheduled for that day, as the season was originally slated to end Thursday. However, Griffin said, both the Mohawks and their opponents will have to deal with that issue if it arises.
At Monday's practice, there was a conspicuous absence in the form of newly minted PGCBL Player of the Year Josh Gardiner -- along with pitcher Kevin Guthrie -- but it was simply a matter of taking advantage of some free time.
"He and Guthrie went to the Mets game," Griffin said.
As far as their potential championship series opponent, Razzino said the Mohawks do not have a preference. They went a combined 1-5 against Elmira and Newark during the regular season, though all five losses came by two runs or fewer and four came during Amsterdam's 2-6 start to the season. From that point on, including the postseason, the team is a staggering 36-5.
"We were talking about that. I don't even think we've beaten Elmira this year, but that doesn't matter to us," he said. "We're a different team now than we were at the very beginning. We've got our full team now, and I feel like whoever we play, we feel we can beat them."
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Adam Shinder/Recorder staff Amsterdam Mohawks head coach Keith Griffin, left, lays down a bunt during Monday's practice at Shuttleworth Park. Watching at back right is pitcher EJ Ashworth.