Amsterdam

After rainy end to regular season, Amsterdam Mohawks gear up for PGCBL championship chase

Amsterdam Mohawks catcher Jackson Phinney, center, applies a tag as Nick Schwartz of the Albany Dutchmen waits for the call on a play at the plate during Thursday's game at Shuttleworth Park in Amsterdam. Schwartz was called out on the play.
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Amsterdam Mohawks catcher Jackson Phinney, center, applies a tag as Nick Schwartz of the Albany Dutchmen waits for the call on a play at the plate during Thursday's game at Shuttleworth Park in Amsterdam. Schwartz was called out on the play.

AMSTERDAM — Gearing up for a playoff run hasn’t been easy for the Amsterdam Mohawks, as they went through the final stretch of the regular season rarely knowing if they’d actually get a game in on the days they were scheduled to play.

The Mohawks ran away with the best record in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League this summer, and had the top seed for the league’s postseason locked up for several weeks, but the stretch run has been a frustrating mix of off days and rainouts.

That trend continued in Thursday’s regular season finale against the Albany Dutchmen at Shuttleworth Park, where the teams got to the top of the second inning before the game was called due to rain. It concluded a regular season that saw the Mohawks unable to finish seven of their 48 games due to inclement weather, and means that the Mohawks will open the playoffs at home Saturday night having only played an inning-plus since Monday.

The stop-and-start nature is frustrating, Mohawks head coach Keith Griffin said prior to Thursday’s start, but he isn’t overly concerned.

“I don’t know if it’ll have any effect on Saturday,” Griffin said of the stop-and-start end to the regular season.

Count infielder Jake Reinisch among those who are also confident.

“If we play well,” Reinisch said, “there shouldn’t be a team that should be able to beat us. But, if we come out and don’t play our best game, these other teams are really good, too.”

The playoffs open tonight with third-seeded Jamestown hosting sixth-seeded Geneva and fourth-seeded Utica hosting fifth-seeded Auburn in one-game quarterfinals. Amsterdam will host the Auburn-Utica winner in a winner-take-all semifinal game Saturday, with the best-of-three championship series starting Sunday.

Saugerties, which finished second behind Amsterdam in the East Division, is the No. 2 seed and also earned a bye into the semifinals.

With Saturday’s win-or-go-home stakes, the Mohawks will send staff ace Nick Smith to the mound for the semifinal contest. Smith has dominated opposing hitters this season, posting a 4-1 record with a 1.51 earned run average and 46 strikeouts over 35 ⅔ regular-season innings.

“He gives us the best chance to win,” Griffin said. “He’s as good as we’ve got.”

REINSICH SURGING

Reinisch, a Shenendehowa High School graduate coming off his freshman season at Wake Forest University, is among the biggest reasons the Mohawks were able to cruise to a 31-9 regular-season record.

After a slow start to the season, Reinisch finished July on a three-week surge. Hitting just .228 followed a July 7 doubleheader at Glens Falls, Reinisch reached base safely in 12 consecutive games to close the regular season, raising his batting average to .326 and finishing the season with a team-best 31 runs batted in.

“I’m just continuing to work on stuff,” Reinisch said. “I was struggling early on, but I just kept that mentality where I wasn’t too worried about statistics. I’m just trying to improve myself as a player every single day.”

ONE SUMMER, TWO RINGS?

Davis Meche joined the Mohawks on July 7, fresh off the biggest moment of his baseball career. The infielder is three wins away from pulling off a never-before-seen championship double in just over a month.

Meche was a reserve infielder on the College World Series-winning Mississippi State Bulldogs, and while he didn’t see any action in Omaha during the Bulldogs’ run to the title, it was an experience the Lake Charles, Louisiana native will cherish forever.

“It was crazy,” Meche said. “It’s hard to put words to. It was a dream come true.”

If Amsterdam can win its sixth PGCBL title, Meche — who has hit .205 with 12 RBIs in 14 games since joining the Mohawks — would be the first player to win a College World Series title and a PGCBL crown in the same summer.

“That,” Griffin said, “would be pretty good.”

Mississippi State has been a reliable source of talent for Amsterdam in recent years, and Meche got a primer for what to expect in the Mohawks from several of his fellow Bulldogs, including Tanner Allen, the 2021 ABCA/Rawlings National Position Player of the Year.

“They told me I was going to have fun,” Meche said, “but to get ready to play, because it’s a lot of baseball.”

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