Adam Shinder/Recorder staff The Amsterdam Mohawks pile on each other in celebration after sweeping the Newark Pilots to win the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League championship Thursday in Newark.
Adam Shinder/Recorder staff The Amsterdam Mohawks huddle in celebration after winning the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League championship Thursday night in Newark.
Adam Shinder/Recorder staff Amsterdam Mohawks centerfielder Marcus Carson, left, hits a double on the first pitch of Game 2 of the PGCBL Championship Series Thursday in Newark. Also pictured, right, is Newark Pilots catcher Logan Boyher.
By ADAM SHINDER
NEWARK -- It started with a bang, when Amsterdam Mohawks centerfielder Marcus Carson turned on the first pitch he saw from Newark Pilots starter Braxton Wilks for a leadoff double.
Exactly 300 pitches later, it ended with a roar, one last fastball from Amsterdam's Taylor Blatch zipping past the helplessly flailing bat of Newark third baseman Zach Wall.
In between, the Amsterdam Mohawks put the final masterstrokes on their historic 2014 romp through the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. Their dominant summer ended in fittingly emphatic fashion, a 12-1 thrashing of the Pilots Thursday night at Colburn Park to complete a two-game sweep of the PGCBL Championship Series that gave the Mohawks their third straight title and fifth in six years under head coach Keith Griffin.
"The team absolutely deserved it,. This team will probably be compared to for Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League history. It was a dominant team.
Blatch rebounded from a tough first inning to throw a complete game six-hit gem, and the Mohawks pounced on Wilks early and never relented, chasing him after three-plus innings and pounding out 16 hits to finish off the most successful summer in PGCBL history -- and likely in the history of the Mohawks' franchise.
Between the regular and postseasons, the Mohawks played 51 games. They won an astonishing 40 of them, including 38 of their final 43 after stumbling to a 2-6 start. In four playoff games against the Pilots and Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs, the Mohawks powered their way to 36 runs on 53 hits and boasted a plus-24 run differential.
"When you write that lineup down, you feel really good," Griffin said. "You've got Connor Johnstone out in the bullpen to take Blatch's place if something happens. It was just awesome. I'm always nervous, because it's just my nature, but it was about as good a complete game as you can possibly play in a championship game."
Blake Logan went 3-for-5 with three runs batted in, Tommy Kain drilled a three-run double as part of the Mohawks' six-run fourth inning that blew the game wide open and Carson and Javon Shelby combined for six hits and six runs scored out of the top two spots of the lineup.
Josh Gardiner added two hits and drove in a run to cap off a brilliant two-season run that saw him win two PGCBL titles -- and the 2014 PGCBL Player of the Year award -- as Amsterdam's everyday second baseman.
"Two's better than one. That's all I'm saying," Gardiner said.
Amsterdam pounced for two runs in the first against Newark's Wilks -- who was making just his second start of the summer -- and after the Pilots pulled back a run in the bottom of the inning, RBI hits from Shelby and Gardiner in the second pushed the lead to 4-1.
Two innings later, the championship was all but assured when Amsterdam erupted for six runs against Wilks and relievers Andrew Sanders and Dan Maguire. Kain provided the biggest blow, a three-run double that pushed the lead to 7-1. Kain drove in a series-best six runs over the two games.
"I didn't hit really well tonight, but when we needed the hit to happen, it just happened," Kain said. "This is pretty cool to experience. I'm happy I got to come here and win this."
From that point, it was up to Blatch, who labored through 25 pitches in the first inning before dominating the rest of the way. He needed 131 pitches to throw his second straight complete game -- the previous one a seven-inning no-hitter July 27 against Utica -- and struck out nine.
"It's hard to think negative when you're up by that much," Blatch said. "I've got to tip my hat to the hitters, they did an amazing job. They wanted this game to be over, I thought it was my obligation to finish it for them."
Finish it is exactly what Blatch did. Although, even with an 11-run lead, Griffin said he still wasn't entirely comfortable until the 27th and final out, when Blatch fanned Wall with runners at second and third.
"When he threw it by that guy, I knew it was over and they couldn't catch us," Griffin said.
As soon as the ball popped into Logan's catcher's mitt, the celebration converged on Blatch at the base of the pitcher's mound.
"I got out there, jumped into Blatch, and then it was every man for himself," Logan said.
That's about the only time this summer that the indomitable Mohawks employed that philosophy.
"We have a fantastic family," Blatch said. "We're always hanging out, always getting to know each other better. Different schools, but we're the same guys."
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