LITTLE FALLS, NY – The Mohawk Valley Diamond Dawgs saw their season end last season at Veteran’s Memorial Park at the hands of the Watertown Rapids. This season, the Diamond Dawgs returned the favor, pushing the Rapids to the brink of playoff elimination in 2019 on Saturday. They did so by virtue of a doubleheader sweep of Watertown, 9-6 and 12-7.

Owen Wosleger (East Hampton, CT/Mount St. Mary’s) got Game One started with a bang in the second, grabbing an RBI single to score Ryan Keenan (Lighthousen Point, FL/Vanderbilt). That started a very long inning for Watertown starter Michael Rounds (Milton, MA/UMass), which included Nick Cimillo’s (Airmont, NY/Manhattan) tenth home run of the season, a blast to left-center. When the inning mercifully ended for Rounds, he gave up six runs and seven hits against 12 Diamond Dawgs in the second.

The only error of the night would give the Diamond Dawgs some more insurance, as a ball that bounced off the second baseman’s glove, scoring CJ Rodriguez (Newport Beach, CA/Vanderbilt) and his classmate, Keenan.

The Rapids would come back admirably in their last gasp in the seventh, helped along by 2-RBI efforts by Jonathan Catapano (Rochester, NY/Grand Valley State) and Vinny DeRubeis (Trumbull, CT/Bridgeport) in a six-run final inning. However, Connor Stapleton (Staten Island, NY/Concordia) would force pinch hitter Alex Santos (University of Rhode Island) into a groundout to pick up the save for Mohawk Valley.

Roy Robles (Umatilla, OR/Missouri Western) picked up the win for the Diamond Dawgs, while Rounds was saddled with the loss for Watertown.

Back-to-back RBIs by Tony Socci (Trumbull, CT/Fairleigh Dickinson) and Rounds gave Watertown a quick 2-0 lead at the start of Game Two. DeRubeis would extend the lead to three in the first on an RBI triple, before extending it to four on an RBI single by George Rosales (Ashburn, VA/Fairleigh Dickinson). The Diamond Dawgs would not go away quietly, however, kicking off the bottom of the first with an RBI single by Joseph Carpenter (Cornwall, PA/Delaware), scoring Jake Barbiere (Randolph, NJ/Rider). A wild pitch by Game Two starter Santos brought home Jacob Josey to cut the lead in half for Watertown. Luke Turner (King of Prussia, PA/York) cut the lead to one on a sharply-hit RBI single to left field, scoring Carpenter.

Wosleger would start off Game Two like he started Game One: with RBIs. This time, Wosleger hit a 2-RBI single, scoring Rodriguez and Keenan and giving the Diamond Dawgs the lead after the first. However, Catapano tied the game back up in the second with a home run, his third, to straightaway center field, tying the game at five.

The Diamond Dawgs took the lead once again in the second, as Keenan was hit with the bases loaded, bringing home Josey. Turner extended the lead just one batter later on a hard-hit ball to left field, scoring both Carpenter and Rodriguez. The Rapids would not be left behind, however, as Brandon Taylor (North Smithfield, RI/Monmouth) hit an RBI double to the left-center field wall, scoring Rosales and cutting the lead to two.

Carpenter started things off in the third with yet another run, this time a hard-hit ball to left field that scored Barbiere. Neither team would score until the fifth when a wild pitch by reliever Spencer Vainavicz scored Wosleger. The Rapids would not be deterred, as Taylor cut the lead to three on a ball that hit the left-field wall on the fly, scoring Rosales.

Mohawk Valley was not done either, scoring Dylan Klock (St. Johnsville, NY/St. Thomas Aquinas) and Keenan in the seventh on back-to-back RBI hits by Barbiere.

That would be all closer Mike Schwartz (Merrick, NY/Villanova) would allow, setting the Rapids down in order to finish off the sweep. Keegan Leffler (Wilton, NY/Herkimer) picked up the win for Mohawk Valley, while Santos was saddled with the loss for Watertown.

With the Watertown sweep, the Adirondack Trail Blazers have punched their ticket into the PGCBL postseason for the first time since joining the league.

The Diamond Dawgs will finish out their season with three games over the last three days, starting Monday at Veteran’s Memorial Park with their final game against the Utica Blue Sox. They’ll spend the last two days on the road in Boonville for a game against the Adirondack Trail Blazers (on Tuesday) and in Oneonta for a game with the Outlaws (on Wednesday). Mohawk Valley has qualified for the playoffs, though date, place, and opponents have yet to be determined at press time.

The Rapids will be fighting for their playoff lives for the last three days of the season, and they will start at home on Tuesday with a game against the Utica Blue Sox. Watertown will finish off the season with a doubleheader at McDonough Park against the Geneva Red Wings.

Photos by Dave Warner

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