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Amsterdam Mohawks

The long ball drives Amsterdam past Watertown 7-5

LJ LaFiura

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AMSTERDAM — After getting past the Albany Dutchmen 9-8, the Amsterdam Mohawks advanced to play the Watertown Rapids at Shuttleworth Park Thursday night in game one of the PGCBL semifinals. Amsterdam, the league’s best pitching team, had to face the league’s top offensive lineup for the first time this season. The Mohawks proved that they were justly the top seed by using the long ball to win 7-5.

The Mohawks got off and running in the second inning when Joe Genord (University of South Florida) stepped up to the plate. After working his way into a 1-2 count, Genord battled until he lifted the ball over the centerfield fence.

Amsterdam got an incredible performance from their starting pitcher Shane Muntz (Wake Forest University). Just a little past midnight Thursday morning, Muntz finished catching in Amsterdam’s victory over Albany. Muntz came out Thursday night with exceptional control. He tossed seven shutout innings, allowing just one hit, one walk and struck out seven.

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 “We had a great pitched game. He kept them off balance and threw his pitches for strikes,” Mohawks manager Keith Griffin said.

Shane Muntz’s performance on the mound would be rivaled by his batting in a wild fifth inning. Watertown’s starter allowed three singles in the bottom of the fifth before giving way to reliever Garrett Crowley (Fordham). Crowley walked his first batter to put the Mohawks up two runs. Shane Muntz then came up to the plate and launched a grand slam over the big left field fence, making the game go from 2-0 to 6-0.

“I’ve been struggling the last couple of games, so I wanted to stay up the middle. I got a good pitch to hit and I guess I got a good swing on it,” said Muntz.

Joe Genord continued his monster game when he came up in the eighth inning. As the lead off batter, Genord crushed another ball over the fence, this time to right field. His two solo homers were his ninth and tenth on the season.

The Watertown Rapids put up a good fight in the ninth inning. Three singles by the bottom of the order scored two runs and left two men on base for leadoff hitter Bailey Lewis (Catholic University). Lewis took the ball out of the park to cut the deficit to two. Ryan McKlinsky (Seton Hall University) came in and struck out the last two batters, ending the game.

Griffin said “We didn’t throw great in the eighth and ninth. We got to fix that up because we’ve seen that movie before. They fought hard in the ninth getting up off the deck.”

The Mohawks will have to go out to Watertown Friday to try and clinch the series, now one win away from reaching the PGCBL championship series.

Watertown head coach David Anderson said, “We’re going to try to figure out a couple of swing tendencies and see what we can do tomorrow. But they are an unbelievable team and there is a reason they are at the top of the league every year.”

Friday’s game in Watertown is set to begin at 7 p.m.

LJ LaFiura is a general assignment sports reporter at the upstate Courier. A Fort Edward native, he attends Saratoga Central Catholic High School.