By Connor Stalker, Blue Sox Staff Writer
For the 3rd time in the early going, the Blue Sox traveled to Little Falls to take on their division rival, the Diamond Dawgs. Going into the game, the series was split at 1 win apiece. The Blue Sox looked to even out their record to 7-7, while the Diamond Dawgs looked to continue their hot start and improve to 12-4.
The Blue Sox handed the ball off to Daly Skees who has maintained an impressive 0.00 earned run average with 7 strikeouts thus far. Opposite of him, Mohawk Valley tasked Fairfield University right-hander Kevin Kell with the start. Like Skees, Kell has been fantastic in the early going sporting a 0.87 ERA, while striking out 10 in 10.1 innings of work.
Blue Sox bats jumped on Kell right of the gate. Ben Partridge swung at the first pitch he saw from Kell and lined a single over the first baseman’s head. Next up, Andre Demetral grounded out to advance Partridge to 2nd base. A groundout by Norris McClure pushed Partridge over to 3rd. Will Shannon traded spots with Partridge by hitting a line shot well over the right fielder’s head for an RBI triple to get the Blue Sox on the board.
On the defensive end, the Blue Sox made quick work of the Diamond Dawgs through the first 5 innings. Daly Skees led the charge on the mound, throwing 5 scoreless innings of 2 hit ball, while striking out 3 and walking 3. Skees also induced 2 double plays and worked back-to-back 1-2-3 innings in the 4th and 5th innings.
In the early going, the Blue Sox padded their lead. In the top of the 2nd, left fielder Josh Skowronski hit a hard ground ball which 2nd baseman Corey Adams had to dive for. Skowronski beat it out for an infield single, while Taylor Kaufman went around to score from 2nd base.
In the top of the 4th, Kell made the mistake of allowing Easton Brenner to reach base on a hit-by-pitch. After a moment of concern for Brenner who held his hand in pain, the game was unpaused and Brenner then proceeded to steal 2nd and 3rd in the next two at bats, before scoring on an error by the catcher making the score 3-0.
The Diamond Dawgs opted for their bullpen in the top of the 6th, calling on lefty Ethan Patch to try and keep them in the game. Up to this point, Patch has thrown well against the Blue Sox striking out 10 in 6.2 innings, while allowing 3 runs. This outing was different, thanks to Will Shannon. Norris McClure led off the inning with a walk bringing Shannon to the plate. On a 3-1 count, Shannon sent a towering fly ball to deep right field that sailed over the fence and the outstretched glove of the right fielder for a 2-run shot, putting the Blue Sox up 5-0.
Utica called on Alex Canino to relieve Skees in the bottom of the 6th. This outing marked Canino’s first appearance as a reliever this summer. Unfortunately for the Blue Sox, it started out a little rocky as he allowed a single and a walk to score as the Diamond Dawgs inched closer, 5-2.
The Blue Sox opted for another relief arm, this time Greg Levin. The Diamond Dawgs struck again for 2 more in the bottom of the 7th on a sac fly by 9 hitter Nick Sturino and a ground out by leadoff Jaden Ross, bringing Mohawk Valley to within 1.
Daniel Jirgal was called on in the 9th to try and earn the save and hold off the Diamond Dawgs’ surging offense. Immediately, Jirgal was wild walking Brian Heckleman on 4 pitches, before getting an out. Owen Pincince was brought in to pinch hit for Nick Sturino, and the decision paid dividends as Pincince roped a single to tie the game. Jirgal worked his way out of the rest of the inning, but not before the damage was done.
Like Big League rules, the PGCBL begins extra innings with a man on 2nd, and that man was Ben Partridge for the Blue Sox. Andre Demetral started off the inning with a bunt to push Partridge to 3rd with only 1 out. McClure struck out before, the Diamond Dawgs intentionally walked Shannon to bring up Brenner. Brenner put a solid swing on the ball but flew out to right to end the threat.
Jirgal remained on the mound in the bottom of the 10th. He quickly walked pinch hitter Brady Shannon, putting men on 1st and 2nd base. He then faced Sam Miller, though Miller did not have a chance to swing as two wild pitches allowed the runner on 2nd to score, walking it off for the Diamond Dawgs. Final score: 6-5 Diamond Dawgs.
Jirgal was handed the loss, while Matt Alduino worked 3 solid innings to earn his 2nd win of the season. Three Blue Sox batters had 2 hits, including Demetral, Shannon, and Kaufman. Shannon also led all batters with 3 RBIs while also contributing a triple and a home run. Kaufman also concluded the night with 2 doubles, bringing his season total up to 3. As a final note, Brenner and Skowronski were impressive on the base paths stealing a combined 4 bases.
Jaden Ross and Sam Miller led Diamond Dawgs bats with 2 hits apiece, while Miller and Mark Darakjy had the only extra-base hits for Mohawk Valley.
With the loss the Blue Sox fall to 6-8, good for a tie for 4th place. The Blue Sox will look to overcome the tough this Saturday at home versus Booneville at 6:45 pm.