By JON RATHBUN _ TimesTelegram
Senior Sports Editor
LITTLE FALLS, N.Y. — The early-season edition of the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs scratched out a pair of runs Thursday but came up empty on its opening homestand following a 5-2 loss to the Utica Blue Sox.
The 2015 Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League champions were beaten 3-2 by Oneonta in their season-opener the night before.
The rebranded Blue Sox, previously known as the Utica Brewers, got a strong start from Craig Prince, stronger relief from Chad Burrows and a big game from returning outfielder Taylor Olmstead in their opening game.
Otterbein University’s Prince allowed one earned run on five hits through six innings then turned the ball over to the burly Burrows from Bryan College. Burrows was perfect for two innings before walking Mike Martinez from Rutgers University leading off the ninth. Tanner Leenknecht, a catcher from Treasure Valley Community College making his PGCBL debut, followed with his second hit of the night, bringing the tying run to the plate before Burrows retired the next three DiamondDawgs, two with strikeouts and one on a bunt he fielded off the mound.
For the second night in a row, the DiamondDawgs ended their game with a called third strike.
Olmstead, an outfielder who transferred from the University of Connecticut to Southern New Hampshire University after leading the 2015 Brewers in home runs and RBI and finishing second in the PGCBL in triples, tripled twice, drove in two runs and reached base four times for the Blue Sox.
The first inning got off to a shaky start for Mohawk Valley’s Mike Appel but the Central Connecticut State University right-hander minimized the damage. Appel walked the first two Utica batters then hit Olmstead to load the bases. Andrew College outfielder Mike Warren tagged up and scored when Eckerd College catcher Mitchell Clandra flow out for the first out of the game. Appel then struck out the next batter and got a force play at second base to end the inning with the single run.
Leenknecht singles with two outs in the bottom of the second inning, and Prince walked Nick Plachno, a Central Connecticut State pitcher filling in at first base for the second night in a row. Leadoff hitter Justin Kiesow had singled in his first at-bat, and the Herkimer College Generals delivered another hit to send Leenknecht home. A strong throw from right field cut Plachno down at third base to end the inning.
As they did when they tied Wednesday’s game, the Diamond Dawgs immediately gave up a run. Appel walked a batter with one out and Olmstead tripled to the gap in right-center to drive the run home. Clandra flew out again and Olmstead tagged up but a strong throw from Martinez in center field beat him to the plate where College of Saint Rose catcher Joe DeLuca tagged him out.
Olmstead delivered another run two innings later. Dylan Hutcheson from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi led off with a single and was thrown out by DeLuca when he tried to steal second base. One out later, St. Bonaventure University’s Jared Baldinelli bunted for a hit before Olmstead sent another triple into right field.
A two-out Utica error put DiamondDawgs at first and second in the bottom of the fifth, and Wagner University shortstop Sean Mazzio singled to drive home a run. a wild pitch put runners at second and third before Tanner Wessling from the University of Tennesee at Martin popped up for the final out.
Clandra and Maryville College’s Robbie Young hit run-scoring singles for Utica in the seventh inning against Rutgers’ Colin Bohnert.
Leenknecht and Kiesow each had two of the six Mohawk Valley hits and each scored a run.
Olmstead was the only Utica player with multiple hits — he was also hit twice by pitches — but Warren and Baldinelli each scored two runs at the top of the order.
The DiamondDawgs travel to Boonville for their first road game Friday against the Adirondack Trail Blazers. They will be home Saturday and Sunday for games against Albany and Glens Falls.