It’s been a little more than a week since the announcement came down that the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League had canceled its 2020 season in face of the uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
That means, for the first time since the franchise moved to Amsterdam in 2003, there will be no Amsterdam Mohawks baseball at Shuttleworth Park this summer.
The Mohawks have been a summer staple in the Rug City ever since relocating from Schenectady, thanks in large part to the team’s incredible run of success on the field and a habit of bringing a slew of future major league draft picks to Amsterdam each summer.
In 17 seasons in Amsterdam, the Mohawks have collected nine league titles between the New York Collegiate Baseball League and the PGCBL, with seven of those titles coming since head coach Keith Griffin arrived in 2009.
Without Mohawks baseball to look forward to this summer, it’s a good time to look back at the five greatest squads the club has produced during its time in Amsterdam, listed in chronological order, as selected by two reporters — Adam Shinder and Michael Kelly — who have combined to cover nearly every championship run the organization has made.
Regular season: 31-11
Postseason: 4-1, beat Hornell Dodgers for NYCBL championship
Top players: SS Joe Lamb, P JJ Pacella, P Craig Soja, P Ryan Tatlock, 2B Kurt Zimniewicz
Stat to know: 13, which is the number of complete games thrown by the Amsterdam pitching staff, which used just nine pitchers over the entire season.
The recap: The Mohawks relocated to Amsterdam for the 2003 season after spending the franchise’s first 16 seasons as the Schenectady Mohawks. Now making Shuttleworth Park their home, the Mohawks were led by Zimniewicz’s 41 RBIs — which stood as the franchise record for 13 years — and a workhorse pitching staff that led coach Bill Consiglio’s team to the title.
Regular season: 27-15
Postseason: 6-0, beat Elmira Pioneers for NYCBL championship
Top players: P Sean Bouthilette, C Matt Colantonio, P Kyle Hunter, 1B/DH Kyle Koeneman, OF Cody Kulp, OF Taylor Lewis, UTIL Ricky Pacione, 3B Jon Schwind, P Abram Williams, P Dan Zlotnick
Stat to know: In its final three games of the postseason, Amsterdam outscored opponents 27-0
The recap: Entering the season as defending champions, the Mohawks only lost consecutive games on four occasions and never suffered more than three defeats in a row. This squad was strong both on the mound with starters Bouthilette, Hunter and Zlotnick leading the way, while hitting power from Koeneman, Kulp and Schwind fueled the offense. The bullpen, though, made this club nearly unbeatable if it could get a lead late. Williams had a 0.39 ERA with 11 saves, and struck out 30 batters in 23 1/3 innings. In the postseason, the Mohawks rolled, winning all six of its games spread across three series — including a 17-0 victory in Game 1 of the championship series, which saw Amsterdam lead 8-0 after one inning.
Regular season: 35-12
Postseason: 4-1, beat Glens Falls Golden Eagles for PGCBL championship
Top players: OF Jeff Boehm, OF Ed Charlton, UTIL Zak Colby, 2B/SS Chase Green, P Mark Leiter Jr., P Rocky McCord, P Chandler Shepherd, OF Evan Stephens
Stat to know: Leiter, McCord and Shepherd combined to allow 22 earned runs in 131 1-3 innings.
The recap: On its way to a then-franchise-record 39 total wins, the 2012 Mohawks won 20 of their first 23 games and were 35-10 on the season before a three-game losing streak saw them fall in their final two regular-season games and Game 1 of its semifinal series vs. Mohawk Valley. From there, Amsterdam won its final four games with a combined score of 34-10 as Colby, Shepherd and Co. powered the Mohawks to their third championship in four years. Colby hit .375 on the season with 20 extra-base hits in 152 at-bats, while Shepherd produced perhaps the greatest pitching season in Mohawks history, as the right-hander struck out 50 batters in 55 innings and allowed eight earned runs.
Regular season: 36-11
Postseason: 4-0, beat Newark Pilots for PGCBL championship
Top players: P Taylor Blatch, P Zack Brown, OF Marcus Carson, P Ryan Clark, 2B Josh Gardiner, P Thomas Hackimer, OF John Razzino, SS JaVon Shelby
Stat to know: Amsterdam’s regular-season team ERA of 2.49 is the best in PGCBL history.
The recap: After starting the season 2-6, the 2014 Mohawks reeled off one of the most dominant runs in PGCBL history, winning 38 of their final 43 games between the regular season and playoffs to complete a championship three-peat. Gardiner hit .415 and was named the league’s player of the year, and the pitching staff may be the deepest in franchise history. Blatch threw a no-hitter late in the regular season and tossed a complete game in the championship clincher in Newark, and neither was the most impressive pitching performance turned in that season thanks to Brown’s 5 ⅔ no-hit innings in Game 1 of the championship series where the University of Kentucky right-hander spent most of the night blasting 96 mph fastballs past the opposing hitters.
Regular season: 34-15
Postseason: 5-1, beat Utica Blue Sox for PGCBL championship
Top players: 3B Tristen Carranza, P Cameron Enck, C Joe Genord, SS Tyler Frank, 2B Chris Givin, P Chase Haney, P Austin Keen, P Tim Naughton
Stat to know: Pitcher Cameron Enck, who finished the regular season with a 0.39 ERA, went seven consecutive starts without allowing an earned run.
The recap: There are some who say the 2015 team — which won a league-record 40 regular-season games — was even better, but where that team faltered in the East Division finals, the 2016 Mohawks got the job done in the postseason behind player-of-the-year Genord, the double-play combo of Givin and Frank, and a starting pitching staff led by Enck. When this team had the lead after six innings, it was all but unbeatable. The back end of the bullpen — sidearmer Haney and fireballer Naughton — combined for nine saves and 81 strikeouts in 53 1-3 innings.