Photo by Dave Warner

LITTLE FALLS, NY – The Mohawk Valley Diamond Dawgs were feeling blue after their loss to Watertown on Thursday night, which cut their lead to one and a half games in the Central Division.

Friday night against another Central Division rival (and counterpart in the “Route 5 Rivalry) in Utica, the Diamond Dawgs were seeing red, and they took it out on the guys wearing blue.

Mohawk Valley answered a four run second by the Blue Sox with a six-run bottom of the inning and batted around twice in the 12-8 victory. Four different Diamond Dawgs were responsible for four runs, whether on the basepaths or in the batter’s box in the victory.

Ryan Rodriguez (Upland, CA/UC Davis) didn’t make things easy for himself to start out, allowing two walks and an error to load the bases just four batters in. Rodrguez would also hit Kyle Strovink (Rocky Point, NY/Limestone) to bring in Luis DeLeon (Providence, RI/Central Alabama CC). Brenton Phillips (Albany, GA/Andrew College)) would also bring in Isaiah Torres (/) with a sacrifice fly to right field.

Utica starter Mike Bovenzi (Shirley, NY/Suffolk CC) found himself in the same bases-loaded situation in the bottom of the first, though his came by virtue of two singles and a walk. Bovenzi would walk in only one run, though, walking Stephen Furman (Brookhaven, PA/Iona) to bring Ryan Toohers (Florham Park, NJ/Villanova) home.

Utica brought home another two runners in the second on a long hit by Cameron Phelts and an error by the Mohawk Valley third baseman that scored DJ Staszak (Rochester, NY/Lackawanna CC) and Khalyd Cox (Palmetto, FL/Savannah State). In all, the Blue Sox would hit six straight balls into the first-second base gap, scoring four runs total to put the Diamond Dawgs in the same spot they were just the night before, down 6-1 after just two innings.

Austin Pollack (Harrison, NY/Hofstra) extended his league-best on base streak to 32 games with a single in the second to load up the bases. Joey Castellanos (Nutley, NJ/UMass Lowell) would make Bovenzi pay with a bloop single to right to score Alexis Monge-Rodriguez (Pembroke Pines, FL/Barry), in a string of three straight hits for the Diamond Dawgs. A walk to Ryan Rodriguez (Boston, MA/San Jacinto CC) brought home Owen Wosleger (East Hampton, CT/Mount St. Marys) and hitting Furman brought home Pollack. A combination hit and error by Joel Alvarez (/Barry) gave the Diamond Dawgs the lead, scoring Hernandez and Furman.

Toohers started the fourth off with a bang, slamming a solo home run that just sneaked over the fence and under the scoreboard in right field. That home run was his ninth, putting him back in a tie for the league home run lead, this time with the Blue Sox’s Khalyd Cox. (Toohers has been in a battle with Watertown’s Alex Mumme (/) for the home run crown formost of the season.) Cox would get a run back for the Blue Sox with an RBI single that scored Phillips. DeLeon would tie up the score on a fielder’s choice that scored Staszak.

Castellanos gave Mohawk Valley back the lead in the bottom of the fifth with an RBI single, and Hernandez answered with a 2-RBI single to give the Diamond Dawgs a three-run lead. Not to be outdone, Toohers extended the lead in the sixth with a bloop single to center, scoring Monge-Rodriguez.

Diamond Dawg relievers Sam Beck (Warren, NJ/Skidmore), Eddie Rives (Hialeah, FL/Barry) and Zach Taglieri (Port St. Lucie, FL/The Citadel) would hold down the fort admirably for Mohawk Valley, keeping the Blue Sox off the board the rest of the way to put the game away.

Jon Hardy (Clinton, NY/Mohawk Valley CC) got the win for Mohawk Valley(22-15), who regain a two and a half game lead over Utica and Watertown. John Torres (Highland Mills, NY/Hartford CC) took the loss for Utica (20-18), who sees their three-game win streak come to an end.

The Blue Sox will finish off their week bouncing between Murnane Field and the team bus, starting on Saturday when they will come back home to face the Watertown Rapids. They’ll head to Boonville for a night game with the Trail Blazers on Sunday before heading back to Utica for another date with the Rapids.

The Diamond Dawgs will finish off All-Star Week with a home-and-home series with the Oneonta Outlaws on Saturday and Sunday. After a day off on Monday, Mohawk Valley will kick off a week where they will play seven games in six days, starting with a game at home against Adirondack. They’ll also start off a three-game Western Division swing with a doubleheader against the Jamestown Jammers on Wednesday and a trip to Elmira on Friday, bookended by another visit from the Trail Blazers on Thursday.