GLENS FALLS — The Glens Falls Dragons went to work Monday against the Amsterdam Mohawks, the team close on their heels in the Eastern Division. The Dragons fought and it was rewarded with a 5-1 victory in front of their home crowd.
The beginning was a classic pitchers’ duel between the two starters, James Varela for the Dragons and Trip Lockhart for the Mohawks. Lockhart of the University of Kentucky looked incredible in the early innings. His six strikeouts and only four walks led to a no-hitter bid, keeping it alive until the fourth inning when Nate Cobb, an outfielder from Malone University hit a hard ground ball that grazed the edge of the second baseman’s glove and rolled into right field. Fairfield freshman Danny Ryan got the Dragons second hit of the game in the next at-bat. Lockhart would finish another inning and allow no runs.
On the mound during the other half of the innings was LIU Post junior James Varela. Varela recorded 116 strikeouts in college this season with a 2.40 ERA. Varela came out strong, leaving Amsterdam hitless through the first with two strikeouts. In his second inning he struggled, allowing two hits and two walks, one of which brought around the first run. However, Varela would soon come back to form in the third with no hits, one walk and a strikeout. He would go another two innings allowing a total of three hits, three walks and the one run. Varela also posted nine strikeouts. His outing Monday puts his ERA at 3.50 with a whip of 1.50.
Varela said, “I was just focusing on me, trying to put up as many zeros as I could.”
“James did a great job tonight. He battles his butt off no matter what he has. Today he had pretty good stuff. We know he’s going to keep us in the game every time out and that’s what he did today,” head coach Cameron Curler said.
Varela’s biggest success was with the top of the order. He held the first four hitters hitless with five of his nine strikeouts and a walk all in ten at bats. This was a crucial part of his game as when the Mohawks gained momentum in the second inning he was able to quickly silence them finishing them off when the order came back around.
Varela mentioned, “This summer I’ve had a problem with first inning and top of the order guys getting on top of me and hitting my fastball. So today I really toned my fastball with the off speed and did a good job. Hopefully I’m going to carry what I did today on to next week”
Relief pitcher Brendan Coffey of Sacred Heart University had managed to keep the Dragons subdued until the seventh inning when things went awry. Coffey would start the inning by walking the first two batter he faced. The Mohawks coach Keith Griffin would then bring in Canisius’ Nick DeBrino who would walk another batter, loading the bases. They brough in their third pitcher of the inning in Ryan McLinskey of Seton Hall. Nate Cobb would get forced out at first but the runners would advance to tie the game. Then clean up man Josh Arndt of Cornell University would hit a single into right field that would score two more runs giving the Dragons a two run lead 3-1. McLinskey would finish up the inning without giving up any more runs.
The eighth inning saw Indiana’s lefty Brad Busald take the mound for the Mohawks. He walked the first two batters he faced in Matt Hamel and Justin Rouse. Hamel would be able to score on a wild pitch, and the designated hitter from Marist Brian Hart hit a single to send Rouse home making the score 5-1. Saint Thomas Aquinas’ Christian Allegretti would come in to close out the ninth.
Curler has come to expect this type of game, saying, “We’ve had a couple gutsy wins, some discouraging offensive performances, but they pulled through when they needed to. And our pitching has kept us in it so we can pull through. Tonight we didn’t get good at bats for the first six innings and the pitching kept us right there.”
The win brings the Dragons within percentage points of the first place Dutchmen. The Dragons will try to put some more pressure on the Dutchmen as they travel to Saugerties to play the Stallions on Tuesday.