Summer Collegiate : : Story
Wednesday, August 06, 2014

PGCBL Championship preview

Chris Real        
Photo: Perfect Game

The Newark Pilots used a come from behind win to beat the Elmira Pioneers 5-3 to advance to the PGCBL Championship series against the Amsterdam Mohawks starting tonight.

The matchup with the Mohawks will be a rematch of the 2011 Championship which saw the Pilots emerge as the Champions during the inaugural season of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. This time around, the Mohawks will enter the game as back-to back champions and are well rested following a two game sweep of the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs.

This will also be the fourth consecutive year where the Mohawks have played for the PGCBL Championship. But the history and consecutive streak doesn’t mean that much to Amsterdam Head Coach Keith Griffin because every team is different from the one before them.

This is this team’s championship series,” Griffin said about if there was any significance playing for the possibility of a third consecutive PGCBL title. “We’re not defending anything. We got three or four guys back from last year’s team; if we had last year’s guys back it would be consecutive. This is a whole new year.

I don’t look at our team is trying to win three straight; this is a whole new group of guys and a whole new coaching staff so hopefully we’ll play well and if we do we’ll be in good shape.”

In the series East Division Series, the Mohawks used a walk-off in the bottom of the ninth to win the first game and used a stellar pitching performance in game two to cruise to a 7-1 win and a spot in the Championship.

We played really well in the Eastern Division Championship, I thought we swung the bats well and the pitching was outstanding,” Griffin said.

So far this year, the Pilots and the Mohawks have faced each three times with the Pilots leading the season series 2-1. But for Coach Griffin, the numbers don’t tell anything and says that whichever team plays the best will win the series.

These games will be won and lost on who played the best in the series. If we play the best then we’ll win and if they play better than we do, then they’ll win,” he said. “I think both those teams [Elmira and Newark] are very good, but if we play like we should and like we’re capable of, we’ll win it.”

Griffin added that he already knows which pitchers he wants to start in the Championship and will throw Ryan Clark in game one. In the regular season, Clark started seven games and pitched to a 3-0 record with a 2.31 ERA. He had 37 strikeouts in 35 innings pitched.

Taylor Blatch is most likely to pitch game two with Zack Brown’s name in the mix as well. Blatch has been impressive this season in the PGCBL with a record 5-1 with 1.80 ERA and has struck out 37. In his final regular season start, Blatch tossed the PGCBL’s second no-hitter in history.

If the series goes to a third game, Griffin said whoever doesn’t start game two could start game three or E.J. Ashworth could be the Mohawks starter for that game.

For the Pilots, Jayson Yano is fresh off winning the PGCBL’s Pitcher of the Year award and will likely be a starter for one of the championship games. Head Coach Mike Armstrong also received the 2014 PGCBL Coach of the Year award.

Newark dropped their first game of the West Division Championship against Elmira and won its next two games to advance, including winning Game 2 in Elmira.

Will the Pilots repeat their performance from 2011 and take over the defending back-to-back champs, or will Amsterdam continue their dominance and win a third straight PGCBL title? These next three days will be interesting as these two clubs will go at it like two heavyweight fighters.

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