PGCBL: DiamondDawgs win schoolday matinee

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 (Times Photo/Jon Rathbun) Herkimer County Community College pitcher Willie Gabay signs autographs Wednesday before making his DiamondDawgs mound debut in the ninth inning.


By Jon Rathbun
The Times
The pieces finally came together Wednesday when the DiamondDawgs defeated the new Newark Pilots 7-3 in front of pupils from eight nearby school districts. The game was the second matinee in a row for Mohawk Valley which was beaten as the visiting team for a similar event in Watertown Tuesday.

“We talked before the game and I told the guys, ‘Let (the schoolchildren) leave the field today with that thought, that, ‘Man, these guys play hard,’’” DiamondDawgs manager Troy Gerlach said. “If you can touch people in that way, your life is going to even more special for it.”

Play hard they did. They swung the bats well and banged out nine hits, four pitchers held the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League’s West Division leaders in check and the defense countered a pair of errors with three double plays behind starter Selby Brummett.

Dave Soltis generated the early excitement for Mohawk Valley. The Bryant University senior-to-be followed back-to-back walks to Tyler Townsend and Cullen Wacker with a three-run home run to left-center in the bottom of the first inning. Soltis’ home run, the first hit this season by a DiamondDawg, made St. Johnsville the first winner in a contest rewarding each school’s children for a hit by an assigned player in the Mohawk Valley lineup. Soltis circled the bases as fans were told each of the youngsters from St. Johnsville would receive free family tickets to a future DiamondDawgs home game.

“It’s always huge when you get a lead early and get the crowd into it,” Gerlach said.

The runs not only fired up the crowd but gave Brummett plenty of support for his second start of the summer. Like Soltis, a 2009 DiamondDawg, Brummett is serving a second summer tour of Central New York after pitching for the Cooperstown Hawkeyes last year in the New York Collegiate Baseball League.

Brummett walked one batter in an otherwise flawless first pass through the Pilots’ lineup. Back-to-back doubles by Michael Bolling and Ray Delvalle gave Newark its first run in the third inning. Double plays ended the fourth and fifth innings before the Pilots got to Brummett again in the sixth. Newark trailed 7-1 before Randy Villa drove in a run with a double then scored on a hit by Chase Brown.

“Selby’s going to throw strikes and when he keeps the ball down he’s not going to get hit a lot,” said Gerlach who was one of Brummett’s coaches during two years at Paradise Valley Community College in Arizona. “When he got hit it was because he got the ball up.”

The DiamondDawg bats had given Brummett a comfortable cushion before he began to tire in the sixth inning. Cullen Wacker drove in two runs with a third-inning double and later beat the throw to the plate on Nic Spence’s one-out grounder. Mohawk Valley had a runner thrown out at the plate in the fourth inning and added a run on D.J. Hoagboon’s RBI-single in the fifth.

“If you score seven runs with the wooden bat you’re usually going to win with the pitching staff we have,” Gerlach said.

After Brummett left the game, Adam Breuer, Tyler Kane and Herkimer County Community College General Willie Gabay each pitched one scoreless inning. Gabay set the side down in order in his PGCBL debut in the ninth.

The Newark bullpen was also effective. One run was charged to four relievers after starter Ethan Striz gave up six a little more than two innings of work. Kegan Banks, Alec Clifton, Edwin Reyes and Adam Grace retired the final 11 Mohawk Valley batters.

Spence had two hits for the DiamondDawgs. Bolling, Brown and Matt Vera each had two hits for Newark.

The DiamondDawgs play on the road Friday in Amsterdam and Saturday in Albany


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(Times Photo/Jon Rathbun) Mohawk Valley DiamondDawg Tyler Townsend dives safely into home plate while Newark catcher Adam Grace (right) awaits the throw in from the outfield on Cullen Wacker’s third-inning double.