By TIMES TELEGRAM STAFF REPORTS
BOONVILLE, N.Y. — The Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League champions are heading back to the playoffs with a chance to defend their title.
The Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs clinched the second of four East Division playoff spots Monday when they won the first game of a doubleheader against the Adirondack Trail Blazers. Adirondack won the second game in extra innings and earned a split of the first of back-to-back Mohawk Valley twinbills.
The DiamondDawgs were back on the road Tuesday for another twinbill in Saugerties.
The DiamondDawgs’ clincher was a 5-4 win on the Boonville Youth Athletic Association grounds. A two-run home run by Wagner College’s Sean Mazzio gave Mohawk Valley the lead in the fifth inning, and Monroe Community College’s Zach Vennaro, a returnee from the 2015 championship team, threw two innings to close out the win.
The second game went 12 innings with a two-out error setting up the deciding run in a 3-2 Adirondack victory.
The DiamondDawgs have played three doubleheaders this season. Each time they have won the first game and lost the second.
The visitors struck first in Monday’s first game, taking a 2-0 lead in the top of the third. Adirondack tied the game in the bottom of the inning and took a 3-2 lead in the fourth.
Treasure Valley Community College’s Tanner Leenknecht drew a walk from Saint Joseph College of Maine’s Josh Partridge to start the top of the fifth. The DiamondDawgs bunted to move the tying run into scoring position, and Leenknecht moved to third base when the University of California-Davis’ Garret Kelly singled. Fairfield University’s Drew Arciuolo delivered the tying run with a sacrifice fly, and Mazzio followed with his first PGCBL home run.
Mazzio also homered once during his college season in the spring.
The Trail Blazers started the bottom of the fifth with a double and a hit batter. Long Island University-Brooklyn pitcher Anthony Rupp then fielded a comebacker and started a 1-4-3 double play as he worked his way out of the jam.
Vennaro relieved Rupp to start the sixth. He worked around two two-out hits in his first inning then had Adirondack down to its final out before a two-out error allowed a run to score and put La Salle University’s Mike Manoogian on base as the tying run. Vennaro struck out Seton Hall University’s Chris Talbot to end the game.
Mazzio and Kelly each had two hits in the opener. Kelly drove in a run and scored twice.
Niagara University’s Nick Bernick, the No. 9 hitter for Adirondack, went 3-for-3 with a run and an RBI.
The DiamondDawgs trailed 2-0 entering the sixth inning of the second seven-inning game. Mazzio reached base on a two-out error and scored the first Mohawk Valley run when Fairfield’s Mac Crispino doubled in the sixth. Two one-out walks prompted an Adirondack pitching change in the seventh. Mike Martinez, a pinch-hitter from Rutgers University, singled to load the bases with two outs, and Arciuolo drove Leenknecht home with another single.
Adirondack had left the bases loaded in the fifth inning but did not have another batter reach base until the 11th with Central Connecticut State University right-hander Nick Plachno throwing five hitless innings of relief for the DiamondDawgs.
Herkimer College’s Jon Sell relieved Plachno to start the 12th. Sell walked the first batter he faced and retired the next two before an error extended the inning. Davidson College’s Justin Lebek then singled and sent Bernick home with the winning run.
Arciuolo and Martinez each had two of the DiamondDawgs’ eight hits in Game 2.
Alderson Broaddus University’s Chuck Hooker, who had two hits in Game 1, had hits in his first three at-bats of the second game for Adirondack which finished with six hits as a team.
The DiamondDawgs lost two of the three games they played in Boonville in extra innings. The Trail Blazers were 6-5 winners in 11 innings when the teams met June 3.
Mohawk Valley travels to Albany Wednesday to play its 10th game in seven days. The DiamondDawgs have Thursday off then play on the road again Friday in Amsterdam.
The PGCBL regular season concludes Sunday.