By Connor Stalker, Blue Sox Staff Writer

Utica, N.Y.—With playoffs nearing, the Utica Blue Sox looked to hold their 2nd place standing in the Eastern Division of the PGCBL. Coming off a strong 8-1 victory over Boonville, the Sox looked to build off their strong play in the doubleheader against the Albany Dutchmen.

The first game of the doubleheader was a continuation of a suspended game earlier in the month. The Blue Sox had jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead over starting pitcher C.J. Kuentzel.

Blue Sox starter, Daly Skees, pitched scoreless 1st and 2nd innings, before the rain forced the umpires to suspend the game.

Play picked back up in the bottom of the 3rd with Daly Skees still on the mound almost a month later. Skees continued to dominate the Dutchmen’s offense not allowing a hit until the 5th inning on a Nick Plue bunt to the first baseman.

In the top of the 5th, Kyuss Gargett set up the 2nd Blue Sox run of the game. After drawing a leadoff walk, Gargett stole 2nd before advancing to 3rd and then eventually scoring on back-to-background outs.

The Dutchmen finally got to Skees in the bottom of the 5th with 3rd baseman Austin Francis scoring their initial run of the game on a ground out to 2nd base. 2nd baseman Mario Cubello tied it up on a sacrifice fly to center field.

The Blue Sox retook the lead in the top of the 7th off reliever Andrew Dongelewic. Pete Adams led off the inning with a gapper to left center putting himself on 2nd and scoring position. The 2nd and 3rd batters of the inning both flew out, however, Kyuss Gargett again came in the clutch roping a line drive single to give the Sox a one-run lead. Back-to-back walks loaded the bases before a 3rd walk in a row to Andre Demetral gave the Blue Sox an insurance run.

In the bottom of the inning, the Dutchmen threatened a brief comeback with Ryan Deo singling home Joe Karpierz after a leadoff double. However, Skees was able to close the door on the threat with a strikeout and a groundout, finishing with a complete game (an odd one at that with nearly a month in between innings) and the win. The final score was 4-3.

Skees finished the night with 4 K’s and only 3 earned runs, leading to his 2nd win of the season. Andrew Dongelewic’s struggles led to him being tabbed with his 2nd loss of the summer.

Pete Adams led the offense going 2 for 3 with a double and a run scored. Kyuss Gargett was the player of the game after knocking home (at the time) the game leading the run while also scoring twice and swiping 3 bags.

Albany’s Deo had a hit and 2 RBI, while Karpierz went 1 for 1 with 2 runs and a walk.

In the 2nd game of the double header the Blue Sox were intent on doing much the same as the 1st game, though they fell short by an identical score of 4-3.

Marcus Kruzan got the start on the mound going 2 innings looking nearly unhittable allowing 0 runs and striking out 3.

Albany’s starter Greg Mays also threw well pitching 5.1 innings striking out 2 and allowing 3 runs.

Kyuss Gargett’s bat stayed hot as he got the Blue Sox on the board first on a line drive up the middle that scored Easton Brenner.

In the 3rd, the Blue Sox looked to one of their top starting pitchers, Holden de Jong. De Jong’s stuff was not up to his usual standard. He walked 2 batters in the inning and hit another eventually relinquishing the Blue Sox lead 3-1. J.T. Vance hit a double with runners on the 1st and 2nd to give the Dutchmen that lead.

Mays settled into the game pitching 3 scoreless innings before giving up 2 in the bottom of the 6th. Pete Adams scored on a wild pitch, while a groundout by Norris McClure allowed Ben Partridge to score.

Unfortunately, the Blue Sox’s late-game theatrics were all for naught as a sac fly by Korson Hastings had already given the Dutchmen 4 runs and a 4-3 lead by the end of the 6th, a lead they would hold for the remainder of the game.

Greg Mays got the win on the mound, his 2nd of the summer, while de Jong was handed his 1st loss of the season. Oswego’s Devin Campbell earned the save going 1.2 innings with 2 K’s.

Adam Guazzo and Kris Giangreco looked solid in relief with each throwing scoreless innings. Giangreco struck out 2, while Guazzo kept the Dutchmen’s bats hitless.

Ben Partridge led the way for the Blue Sox offense, going 2 for 3 with a stolen base. Will Shannon also had a solid game going 1 for 2, with a 2B and a walk. Gargett’s impressive nightcap continued with another hit, an RBI, and his 4th stolen base, adding up to 15 on the season.

Tyler Kipp had a big night for Albany going 2 for 4, with a triple, an RBI, and a run, meanwhile, Vince Venditti, J.T. Vance, and Nick Plue all contributed doubles.

The split ensured the Blue Sox held down their 2nd place spot in the East over the Diamond Dawgs, while also increasing their magic number to 1.

The Blue Sox will look to capture 2nd place in the division at home tomorrow against Oneonta in their 2nd home doubleheader of the week.