Amsterdam Mohawks’ Matt Gorski, left, and Albany Dutchmen pitcher Matt Pierce race to first base during the first inning of Friday’s game at Shuttleworth Park. Gorski was safe on the play. (Adam Shinder/Recorder staff)
By ADAM SHINDER
The top talent in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League will be pouring into Shuttleworth Park in Amsterdam this Tuesday for the league’s All-Star Game festivities, but nobody will be better represented than the host Amsterdam Mohawks — a fact that has coach Keith Griffin and team president Brian Spagnola extremely excited.
Between eight players selected to the All-Star Game and seven who were named to the East Division roster for the inaugural PGCBL Prospect Game, the Mohawks will have a league-high 15 players taking part in Tuesday’s action. That’s good news for a club that has plenty of players with ambitions of being drafted by major league teams in the coming years, as the All-Star Game is traditionally one of the best opportunities to be seen by pro scouts during the season.
“We think we’ll put on a good show for the scouts, the league and the local fans,” Spagnola said.
T.J. Collett, Liam Wilson, John Valente, Will Holland, Jake Mueller, Anthony Gonnella, Carter Knapek and Joe LaSorsa will represent Amsterdam on the East Division All-Star team — which will be coached by Griffin — while Matt Gorski, Eric Rivera, Andrew Saalfrank, Morgan McSweeney, Brandon Reitz and Thomas Lane will appear in the Prospect Game.
Considering the Mohawks entered Friday’s game against the Albany Dutchmen at a PGCBL-best 26-7 and having won 19 of their previous 20 games, there was an argument made for the inclusion of even more Amsterdam players.
“We’ve got some good guys represented. We’ve got a couple of guys that should’ve made it and didn’t make it, but they’ve played well enough to be all-stars,” Griffin said. “When you get that kind of numbers, some jealousy creeps into it, but I’m very happy for the 15 guys that made it.”
The Prospect Game — which starts at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, to be followed by a skills competition at 5 p.m. and a home run derby at 5:35 p.m. before the All-Star Game itself at 7:10 — is a new addition this year that Spagnola felt filled a need for the league.
“We thought we needed it, because we get a lot of scouts and a lot of the prospects don’t get to play,” Spagnola said. “The All-Star Game’s based on statistics, so you’re not necessarily getting guys that are pro prospects in it, and I thought we were shortchanging them. So we implemented doing (the Prospect Game) as well.”
Over the next several days, one of the things Griffin will be most concerned with is making sure all six of his pitchers slated to appear Tuesday — Reitz, McSweeney, Lane, Saalfrank, Knapek and LaSorsa — are all available to appear in front of the scouts. That means careful management of his pitching staff for tonight’s road game against Albany and Monday’s trip to Saugerties, which are sandwiched around a day off Sunday.
“The problem is what do we do Monday, and we’ve got to throw some guys Saturday, too,” Griffin said. “We’ll get them two days rest, so (Tuesday) will be like a bullpen day and they can go out and show what they can do on two days’ rest. They do that all the time.”
Between his head coaching tenures with the Mohawks, Okaloosa-Walton Junior College, Jefferson Davis Community College and Pine Forest High School in Pensacola, Fla., Griffin entered Friday sitting on 996 career coaching wins.
The 1,000th could come as early as next week. If it happens at home, the likeliest day would be Thursday, when the Mohawks play a doubleheader against the Utica Blue Sox.
Griffin’s not one to chase individual honors, but he admitted to being humbled by the milestone.
“I’ve never been a guy to say, ‘I did this or that,’” Griffin said. “When I recruited, it wasn’t, ‘I signed this guy,’ it was always, ‘We did it.’ This is based on a lot of very good players, a lot of very good assistant coaches and good programs that I’ve been in. It’s my record, but I absolutely know it wouldn’t be done without the players that I coached and the coaches I’ve coached with. Even though my name’s on the front of it, a lot of good players and coaches have made it happen.”
CLIMBING THE RANKS
After Thursday’s 7-3 win over the Newark Pilots extended the Mohawks’ winning streak to eight games, the team rose four spots to No. 4 in Collegiate Summer Baseball’s weekly national rankings. After being unranked in the first top 35 list of the season, the Mohawks have risen from No. 10 to No. 8 to No. 4 in the last three weeks, this week supplanting the Jamestown Jammers as the PGCBL’s highest-ranked club.
Amsterdam’s winning streak came to an end Friday with a 10-4 loss to Albany. Justin Childers and Zach Durfee each homered for the Dutchmen, who put the game away with six runs in the eighth inning.
Holland went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and Jake Mueller went 2-for-5 with two RBIs to lead the Mohawks (26-8).
Contact ADAM SHINDER at [email protected]