By Josh McMullen – Mohawk Valley Diamond Dawgs

LITTLE FALLS, NY – Just one day after the Milwaukee Bucks won their first NBA championship, it was the Auburn Doubledays’ turn to Fear The Deer.

Fairfield University has always been a hotbed of Mohawk Valley recruiting, but this time, it paid off in spades, as the three Stags in the lineup on Sunday accounted for three home runs and seven RBIs. In all, it added up to a win

The Diamond Dawgs got off to a fast start in their half of the first inning, when Matt Venuto (Mansfield, MA/Fairfield) crushed a ball into the fifth row of the center-field bleachers. That solo home run was Venuto’s first of the season.

Fairfield classmate Mike Becchetti (Eastchester, NY/Fairfield) would top Venuto in the third with a bomb to left field that would score himself and Brady Fureno (Canajoharie, NY/LeMoyne). Not to be outdone, though, Venuto would answer right back just a couple of pitches later with another solo shot to center, his second of the season to make it a four-run game for Mohawk Valley.

Auburn cut the lead to three in the fourth on an RBI double by Tyler Attal (Los Angeles, CA/Bates). His fly ball to the left-field wall would score Brian Norsen (Hamburg, NY/St. John Fisher). Attal would come home on an RBI single to center field by Garrett Prosper (DuBois, PA/Slippery Rock) and cut the Mohawk Valley lead to two.

Prosper would cut the Mohawk Valley lead once again in the sixth, this time to one on an RBI single to right field, scoring Norsen.

But it would be another Stag to extend the lead for the Diamond Dawgs, as an RBI single from Becchetti would score both Vincenzo Castronovo (Utica, NY/Bryant) and Cedric Rose (Pittsfield, MA/UMass Lowell). A passed ball a few batters later would score Jake Barbiere (Randolph, NJ/Rider). The runs would keep coming in the sixth, as an error by Griffin O’Ferrall would score Becchetti. Evan Berta would get into the mix, as his RBI double would score Venuto and Tyler Cannon (Clayton, NJ/Iona). In all, 12 Diamond Dawgs visited the plate in the bottom of the sixth, accounting for eight runs as all but one – Rob Taylor (Wolcott, CT/New Haven) – would make the trip around the bases in the inning.

Castronovo would pick up another RBI in the eighth, smacking one over the head of the Auburn first baseman that would score Berta. But that would be all the Mohawk Valley bullpen would need to finish things off, as relievers Troy Butler (Fort Plain, NY/Binghamton) and Nathan Draves (/Lynn) would allow just one Auburn hit over three solid innings of work.

John Archer (Dobbs Ferry, NY/St. Thomas Aquinas) picked up the win for Mohawk Valley (17-17). Ryan O’Connell (Waterford, CT/Central Connecticut State) was saddled with the loss for Auburn (22-16).

The Doubledays will be back at Falcon Park on Thursday for another New York-Penn League reunion; this time, they will play host to the Elmira Pioneers. The Diamond Dawgs will round out their two-day, three-game homestand on Thursday with a doubleheader with the Utica Blue Sox that may play a big part in determining the final Central Division playoff spot.

Photos by Andy McEvoy