MOHAWK VALLEY DIAMONDDAWGS 8, ELMIRA PIONEERS 6
A spectacular play by third baseman Tyler Hall bailed Mohawk Valley out of a first-inning jam Thursday and the DiamondDawgs battled back to beat the Elmira Pioneers 8-6 at Veterans Memorial Park.
“This was a great comeback win for the team,” manager Roberto Vaz said. “They were relentless in terms of desire and effort.”
The Pioneers, winners of five straight games after an 0-8 start to the season, had the bases loaded with one out and two runs already home in the top of the first inning when designated hitter Dean Symancyk stepped to the plate. Symancyk lined Evan Davis’ 2-2 pitch between Hall and the third base bag but the Herkimer County Community College infielder made a diving grab on a hop. Hall got to his feet in time to step on the bag and force Steven Patterson out then throw across the field and complete and inning-ending double play.
“That could have been disastrous,” Vaz said of the play which saved at least two runs and probably a third. “Tyler made a great play.”
Mohawk Valley also loaded the bases with one out in its half of the first inning but its rally-killing double play came before any runs had scored. The DiamondDawgs put a run on the board in the second inning — and stranded another runner at third base — and Elmira got the run back in the top of the third.
Davis shook off a first inning that included three hits and two walks and got through four with his team trailing 3-1. The Little Falls High School graduate and Marist College freshman threw 92 pitches in his first Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League start and finished with five walks, four hits and three strikeouts.
“He had a little trouble with his command early,” Vaz said, “but he was able to pitch through the first inning when he didn’t have his best stuff.”
Davis turned the ball over to the Mohawk Valley bullpen after walking Patterson to start the fifth inning. Raymond Morton, Taylor Wright and Sal Lisanti held the Pioneers to two hits the rest of the way while the DiamondDawgs’ offense scratched its way back into the game.
Chris Cruz drove in a run with a single in the fifth to make the score 4-2 but the Pioneers came back with two on wild pitches after loading the bases in the top of the sixth. Mohawk Valley got those two runs back in the bottom of the sixth — David Del Grande drove one home with a two-out double that got stuck behind a sign in left field and another scored on an error on a ball hit by Joe Carcone. Umpires initially signaled home run on the ball hit by Del Grande who circled the bases behind Mark Stuckey and Hall before the call was reversed; the ball had bounced in front of the fence and and gotten stuck behind a banner advertising Coors Light.
Page 2 of 2 - Stuckey drew a walk with two outs and got another rally started in the seventh inning. Tom Valichka followed with a check-swing single to right-center and Jack Morrow, who had entered the game as a pinch-hitter an inning earlier, drilled a two-run double down the left field line. Eric Helmrich then hit for Hall and Morrow scored the go-ahead run when Patterson’s throw from shortstop sailed over the head of Elmira first baseman Zac Bellinger.
Cruz tacked an insurance run onto the Mohawk Valley lead with a towering home run that just stayed fair down the right field line in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Lisanti endured a pair of two-out errors inn the top of the ninth and notched his third save by striking out Ty Yesensky with the tying runs on base.
“We’ve been in that situation before and we’ve ended up on the losing end,” Vaz said. “That shows that we’re learning from our mistakes and we’re maintaining our poise.”
Cornell University’s Cruz, the Ivy League home run leader in the spring, has homered in back-to-back games for the DiamondDawgs and is 4-for-8 with five runs balled in in wins against Watertown and Elmira.
Stuckey had two hits and scored three times Thursday and Hall scored two runs. Del Grande added two hits and was hit by a pitch for the eighth time this season.
Elmira catcher Spencer Brann drove in three runs and Corey Hamula had three of the Pioneers’ six hits.
The DiamondDawgs return home Sunday after two days on the road and take on Watertown at 5:05 p.m.
MOHAWK VALLEY DIAMONDDAWGS 8, ELMIRA PIONEERS 6
Elmira 201 012 000 — 6 6 5
Mohawk Valley 010 012 31X — 8 9 3
Carson Bryant, Matthew Goreham (6), Peter Jay (7) and Spencer Brann. Evan Davis, Raymond Morton (5), Taylor Wright (7), Sal Lisanti (9) and Eddie Sorondo, Jonathan Scott (7). W — Wright 1-0. L — Goreham 1-1. Sv — Lisanti (3). 2B — Elmira, Steven Patterson; Mohawk Valley, David Del Grande, Mark Stuckey 2, Jack Morrow. HR — Mohawk Valley, Chris Cruz. Attendance — 433. Records — Elmira 5-9; Mohawk Valley 5-7.