By JON RATHBUN
Senior Sports Editor
Posted Jun. 11, 2016
LITTLE FALLS, N.Y. — Suddenly, the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs look like a completely different team.
One night after ending their six-game losing streak, the DiamondDawgs scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth and pulled out an 11-10 win at Veterans Memorial Park against Utica’s Blue Sox, owners of the best record in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League.
Friday’s game was unlike any of the previous seven on the Mohawk Valley schedule. The DiamondDawgs had not previously scored more than five runs, nor had they allowed more than six.
The one part of Friday’s game that did seem familiar was the top of the ninth inning. Having lost four previous games in which they were tied in the eighth or ninth inning, and two in which led by one run entering the bottom of the ninth, the DiamondDawgs rallied in the eighth and took an 8-6 lead. Then they watched the two-run lead disappear.
The new-look DiamondDawgs shook it off. Kevin Radziewicz, on of a pair of Fairfield University players who arrived in time to make their Mohawk Valley debut Friday, led off the bottom of the ninth and drew a walk from Bryan College right-hander Chad Burrows. Michael Ketchmark followed with a potential double play ball that was mishandled, the error left the tying runs on base with nobody out.
Treasure Valley Community College’s Tanner Leenknecht was called on to sacrifice the runners into scoring position and pushed his bunt past Burrows for a hit that loaded the bases.
Burrows struck Long Island University’s Andrew Turner out for the first out of the inning, bringing to the plate Mike Martinez who recently finished his freshman year at Rutgers University. Martinez smacked Burrows’ 2-1 pitch through the right side of the infield, just beyond the reach of diving St. Bonaventure University second baseman Jared Baldinelli. Radziewicz dashed home to score and DiamondDawgs coach Blake Nation waved Ketchmark around third. Ketchmark beat the throw home from Central Connecticut State University’s Franklin Jennings and scored the tying run. Jennings’ throw got by Shippensburg University catcher Jack Goertzen and Nation did not hesitate to send Leenknecht, hustling from first base, home, as well, with the winning run.
Leenknecht crossed the plate safely and an enthusiastic Mohawk Valley dugout erupted onto the field to celebrate a stunning victory.
The game had been lower keyed for the first 7 1/2 innings. The teams traded early leads and were tied at 4 until Utica took a 6-4 lead on a two-run single by Eckerd College’s Mitchell Clandra in the top of the sixth.
The DiamondDawgs rallied in the bottom of the eighth. Leenknecht and Turner started the inning with back-to-back singles, and Martinez drove Leenknecht home with a hit that chased Indiana University of Pennsylvania right-hander Michael Klingensmith from the game.
A bunt moved the runners up against Burrows and Herkimer College General Justin Kiesow hit a chopper over Burrows’ head to get the tying run home.
Drew Arciuolo, the other reinforcement from Fairfield, lined a 3-2 pitch from Burrows into center field and the ball dropped in front of a diving Mike Warren from Andrew College for a hit, allowing Martinez to score the go-ahead run. Arciuolo stole second base, then took third and drew a wild throw from Burrows that allowed him to score.
The top of the ninth started with Herkimer College right-hander Jon Sell walking one Utica batter then hitting another. A one-out single loaded the bases form Baldinelli who drew a walk and pushed one run home. Pinch-hitter Dylan Hutcheson from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi singled home the tying run. The Blue Sox took a 9-8 lead when Jennings grounded into a force play and beat the relay to first base, and they added a 10th run on a wild pitch.
Martinez drove in the first run of the game and had three hits and four runs batted in for Mohawk Valley. Turner, Leenknecht and Fairfield’s two Stags all had two of the team’s season-high 13 hits. Leenknecht scored three times, and Turner and Martinez each crossed the plate twice. Kiesow drove in two runs.
Relievers Shane Reardon from Southern New Hampshire University and Colin Bohnert from Rutgers combined to pitch 2 1/3 scoreless innings for Mohawk Valley.
Clandra had a two-run double and a sacrifice fly early in the game and finished with two hits and five runs batted in for the Blue Sox. Baldinelli was the only other Utica Player with two hits, and he scored two runs.
The DiamondDawgs play in Glens Falls Saturday and have an off day Sunday. Glens Falls’ Dragons started Friday with the same 1-6 record as Mohawk Valley and won 6-5 in Amsterdam to end the Mohawks’ four-game win streak.The DiamondDawgs next play in Little Falls Tuesday when they meet Utica again in the first game of a three-night homestand.