Sizing up the PGCBL East Division playoffs
The PGCBL regular season has come to a close, and that means it’s playoff time. Four teams out of the East Division, the Amsterdam Mohawks, Albany Dutchmen, Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs and Saugerties Stallions all begin their run for the league championship tonight. It will begin with the division semifinals, a one-game, winner-take-all playoff for a bid to the division championship series.
#1 Amsterdam Mohawks vs #4 Saugerties Stallions
Start time: 6:35 p.m. at Shuttleworth Park, Amsterdam
Amsterdam has been the best team in the league all season, finishing with a 36-12 record, and rightfully so. They finished their season at the plate to a tune of a cumulative .309 batting average, 43 home runs and 364 runs scored. Third baseman John Valente fell just short of the single-season batting average record, but settled at .422. Jake Mueller, Dustin Skelton and Dan Maynard also had very good seasons after getting hot towards the end of the season, finishing with averages of .321, .318 and .309, respectively. One problem, however, is they have been bit by the injury bug in the past few weeks. Liam Wilson, T.J. Collett and Matt Gorski all saw their seasons end prematurely from injuries and Eric Rivera, Will Holland and Anthony Gonnella have also all dealt with injuries towards the end. As for pitching, Joe LaSorsa will likely be getting the ball. He has had a great year, going 5-1 with a 2.72 ERA. That, as well as a strong bullpen corps of Ben Anderson, Carter Knapek, Morgan McSweeney and Nick Chiseri usually makes it easy for pitching. They should cruise to a win, and could very well be the team that makes it out of the East.
Saugerties finished the year with a record of 20-28, the worst record among the eight playoff teams. Infielder Luke Petterson has remained a consistent all year, hitting .297 with 17 RBIs. Tyler Kelder is a power threat, leading the team with four home runs and hitting .286, and Jack Gonzalez is a very solid all-around player. For their pitching, it will likely be either John Clayton, who went 3-2 with a 1.89 ERA this year, or Nick Massa who went 5-1 with a 2.25 ERA. If the starter doesn’t work out they have a decent bullpen, highlighted by Matt Pushard and Brady Peterson. Saugerties had a good team this year, but I think they don’t have what it takes to get past mighty Amsterdam.
#2 Albany Dutchmen vs #3 Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs
Start time: 5:05 p.m. at Siena Field, Loudonville
Albany has been a very solid all-around team this year. They have three players in their lineup hitting above .300 in Nick Gallo (.319), Adam Elliot (.316) and Nick Estrella (.308) as well as another hitting .298 in Brandt Holland who also hit five home runs. Brad Gneiting, Jon Skidmore and Colin Kaucher all hit above .290 this season. Their ability to hit for average should not be questioned. As for their pitching, Greg Marino has been an absolute stud all year long, going 2-1 with a 1.67 ERA in six starts. He has not pitched since July 25, so he may end up getting the start for Albany. If they were to advance to the divisional finals, you could see Matt Pierce (8-1, 1.92 ERA), Tommy Miller (3-1, 3.31 ERA) and Jack Grabek (3-1, 4.40 ERA) all getting chances for the Dutchmen.
Mohawk Valley is an interesting team to watch. Russ Olive has arguably been arguably one of the best overall hitters in the league all season, hitting .324 with eight home runs and 42 RBIs. Catcher Clay Koniencki has also been very good, hitting .303 as well as Austin Pollack who has hit .301 in 44 games this year. A mystery player is Nico Ramos, who is hitting .321 but has only had 53 at-bats all year long. Tim Zeng, Bobby Porter and Alexis Monge-Rodriguez all have had decent regular seasons and are sure to do well in the playoffs. I could see Joe DeSarro getting the ball for Mohawk Valley tonight, as he has gone 5-1 with a 3.77 ERA this year and is a real strikeout pitcher (45 strikeouts in 47.2 innings). Tyler Ksiazek is someone that could get a start if they were to move on further, as well as Jonathan McKinney, and if they are to have a lead they turn the ball over to All-Star closer Zach Vennaro who picked up eight saves this year. This game is a real tossup, but I have to go with Albany based on their consistency at the plate and strong pitching.