By Josh McMullen – Mohawk Valley Diamond Dawgs

The last time the Mohawk Valley Diamond Dawgs and the Albany Dutchmen set foot on the same field together, the two were playing for the chance to face eventual 2019 champion Amsterdam in the Eastern Division Championship Series.

There were significantly lower stakes in Wednesday night’s game at Veteran’s Memorial Park, but the game (and the heat) were no less intense.

The most intense heat, however, was coming from the right hand of Diamond Dawgs pitcher Sal Fusco (Albany, NY/UMass Lowell) Fusco left the Dutchmen bats dizzy all night, recording 11 strikeouts and only three hits in five innings of work. In all, the Diamond Dawgs racked up 18 strikeouts in a 5-0 victory.

The Diamond Dawgs picked up the lead in their half of the first on a bloop single to center field by Rob Taylor (Wolcott, CT/University of New Haven). He scored leadoff hitter Daniel Burnett (Granville, MA/Hartford) on the hit. Another run would come home a couple of batters later, as Taylor came home on a sacrifice fly by Grant Santangelo (Hershey, PA/Delaware).

A scary incident happened in the top of the first, as home plate umpire Gerald Odette was struck on the wrist by a pitched ball. The game was delayed for about 15 minutes as he and umpire Michael Reilly exchanged gear and switched responsibilities in the field. After the delay, Odette came out to a sportsmanlike round of applause from the Mohawk Valley faithful and was able to resume his duties.

Taylor continued his big day in the third by depositing the first pitch he saw into the center-field bleachers. Taylor’s solo home run, the first of the season for him, extended the Mohawk Valley lead to 3-0. Cedric Rose (Pittsfield, MA/UMass Lowell) got into the fray as well, scoring the debuting Alfredo Delgado (Bronx, NY/Manhattan) on an RBI double that managed to get all the way to the center-field wall.

The Dutchmen would come close to tying up the game in the sixth, forcing Reece Bolton (Wilmington, DE/Delaware) to walk three straight Dutchmen and load the bases. However, no runs would cross the plate, as the next pitcher, Nathan Draves (Manhattan Beach, CA/Lynn) set the next three Albany batters down in order to keep zeroes on the scoreboard.

Delgado extended the lead to five in the seventh on a wild pitch by Albany pitcher Connor O’Neill (Fairfield, CT/Manhattan). That was all Terry Murray (Norfolk, MA/Rhode Island College) would need, setting

Fusco picked up the win for Mohawk Valley, while Tom Kretzler (Albany, NY/SUNY Brockport) was saddled with the loss.