AMSTERDAM — Amsterdam manager Keith Griffin said he knew that Saugerties had gotten better, so he expected a battle Monday.
But the team that has won more Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League titles than anyone wasn’t going to be denied. Rallying from an early 2-0 deficit, the Mohawks topped the Stallions 5-3 in the East Division championship before a standing-room-only crowd at Shuttleworth Park.
Amsterdam will vie for its sixth league title starting Tuesday in a best-of-3 series against West Division champion Batavia, which beat Utica on Monday. Game 1 will be in Amsterdam, followed by two, if necessary, in Batavia on Wednesday and Thursday.
“We were very uncharacteristic defensively,” Griffin said. “We made three errors and we had some balls we did not block behind the plate. We just battled and battled and battled, and every pitcher we brought in was able to throw strikes and make pitches when we needed them. That’s been this team the whole year.”
Saugerties jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Evan Goforth reached on an infield error, moved to second on a wild pitch and third on a fielder’s choice. Garrison Berkley then hit a slicing double over the first baseman, but still too short for the right fielder.
Garrett Michel followed with a single to move Berkley to third. Amsterdam starting pitcher Colin Brougham then got a third strike on the Stallions’ JP Tighe, but the ball squirted through catcher Mark Black’s legs, allowing Berkley to score.
Amsterdam got one back in the second. Zack Gardiner led off with a single to center field and eventually came home on Ian Petrutz’s fielder’s choice.
The Mohawks scored another run by making some two-out noise to tie it in the third. Cameron Love, Brett Coker and Gardiner all singled, with Gardiner getting the RBI.
Saugerties retook the lead in the fourth. Tighe was hit by a pitch to lead off. A Colin Mackle single brought him to second, and number nine batter Jahlani Rogers singled to left field to score Tighe, who just beat the tag.
Brougham was relieved by Santhosh Gottam, who got the final two outs with the bases loaded to avoid further trouble.
The Mohawks took the lead in the sixth. They made it 3-3 on Cade Bush’s fielder’s choice that scored Briggs Rutter. Then number nine batter Nick Giamarusti delivered the big blow, a two-RBI double to the left field corner to score Petrutz and Mark Black.
“Two-two count, I was just looking for anything to hit,” Giamarusti said. “One through nine, we hit. We had to manufacture a little bit tonight.”
Griffin was happy that his team didn’t view Saugerties – which beat Amsterdam in last year’s final — any differently because of 2021.
“That’s what makes this team so special. Every game is its own entity,” Griffin said.
Saugerties 200 100 000 – 3 7 2
Amsterdam 011 003 00x – 5 7 3