By Connor Stalker, Utica Blue Sox Staff Writer
Utica, N.Y.–The Amsterdam Mohawks have started the summer red hot, leading the East Division at a 12-1 pace, setting a blistering tone in the early going. The Blue Sox, on the other hand, have put together a solid, if unspectacular effort starting the year off 5-6, good for 3rd place in the division. After dropping the first matchup at Amsterdam, 12-1, the Blue Sox looked to even the yearly series at 1 apiece.
On the mound, the Blue Sox started southpaw Brandon Scott, a Hillsdale College product who thus far has worked a 2.46 ERA in 2 relief appearances. The Mohawks called on Evan Siary, a Mississippi State freshman, who stifled opponents in the PGCBL pitching 10 scoreless innings so far this summer.
Scott and Siary both worked quick first innings before the Mohawks’ bats jumped on Scott. The Mohawks loaded the bases on an error and two walks bringing slugger Bryce Hubbard to the dish. Scott got ahead of Hubbard before Hubbard ripped a hard, groundball single up the middle that plated 2 giving the Mohawks a 2-run lead. Center fielder Jalen DeBose then followed suit, pulling a line drive to right field scoring a third run.
The Blue Sox responded with back-to-back hits by Hamilton College hitters Greg Kopp and Taylor Kaufman scoring 1. A stolen base and an error by the third baseman allowed Kaufman to score bringing the Blue Sox to within 1.
Brockport’s Zach Eldred led off the top of the 3rd with a double down the right field line off Scott. Scott then proceeded to load the bases by walking 1st baseman Luke Longo and hitting 3rd baseman Cam Gurney. The Blue Sox turned to Adam Guazzo to try and get out of the jam. Guazzo came out firing, however, he was wild spiking a pitch in the dirt, allowing Eldred to score, before reloading the bases on a walk. A walk to Jaxon West and a sac fly by Mason Swinney plated 2 more for the Mohawks making the score 6-2 in favor of the Mohawks. A designed play with runners on 1st and 3rd intentionally created a run down allowing the man on 3rd base to score adding another run to the Mohawks’ total.
The Blue Sox struck back for 3 more runs, including another clutch knock by Kaufman to bring Utica to within 2. High schooler Joe Gold helped get the Mohawks out of the jam at the end of the inning keeping the score at 7-5.
The relief corps for the Blue Sox settled in in the 4th inning, pitching 5 shutout innings, specifically on the back of an astounding performance by Marcus Kruzan. Kruzan, a recent high school grad from Wisconsin and a commit to St. Thomas, really impressed in his first outing as a Blue Sock striking out 4 in 4 innings of no-hit ball. On the other side of the field, Joe Gold was also pitching particularly well going 3 and 1/3rd innings striking out 2 and allowing only 2 hits.
Norris McClure brought the Blue Sox even closer on a hard ground ball up the middle that the Mohawks’ shortstop just barely missed, scoring Ben Partridge who continued his hot streak by collecting two more hits tonight.
With runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, it looked like the Blue Sox may finally tie the game. A strong pickoff move by reliever Ryan Taffe caught Utica native Todd Abraham unaware getting the second out before getting Adam Haidermota to fly out.
Utica called on one of their top relievers Kris Giangreco to hold the Mohawks and give the Blue Sox bats one last chance to come back. Back-to-back- to back singles by West, Swinney, and Hubbard set up the Mohawks to score 3 more quick runs increasing the lead to 4.
Amsterdam brought in Gio Conte to close up the game. After giving up a leadoff walk to Partridge, Conte closed the door on any sort of comeback forcing a double play, giving up a single to McClure and finally getting Pablo Santos to ground out to first.
The Mohawks defeated the Blue Sox 10-6, despite the Blue Sox outhitting Amsterdam 11-7. At the top of the standings, the Mohawks improved to 12-1 giving them a 2-game lead over the hot Diamond Dawgs. The Blue Sox fell to 5-7 pushing them 6.5 games out of first and putting them in a four-way tie for 4th place.
Joe Gold earned the win on the mound, while Scott’s struggles earned him the loss. Kaufman’s 3 hits (including a double) lead all batters, while Norris McClure, Ben Partridge, and Greg Kopp also tallied 2 hits apiece. All three continue to hit over .400 factoring strongly into the Blue Sox season thus far. Bryce Hubbard and Zach Eldred were the only batters for Amsterdam to compile multi-hit games with each getting 2 hits apiece with Hubbard also plating 3.
The Blue Sox travel on June 19th to Glens Falls to take on the Glens Falls Dragons in an effort to take sole possession of 4th place.