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Shepherd and Stephens Pace Mohawks to Sixth-Straight Win

(Photo: Evan Stephens connects on a three-run double in the seventh inning.)

By John McGraw

Box Score

WATERTOWN, N.Y. – Chandler Shepherd (Kentucky) pitched a three-hit shutout for seven innings and Evan Stephens (Wake Forest) swatted a three-run double and scored three times to lead the Amsterdam Mohawks to a 10-4 victory over the Watertown Wizards on Friday night at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds in Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League action. The Mohawks (17-3) have now won six games in a row and 16 of their last 17 overall. Amsterdam’s lead over second-place Newark remained at five games.

Shepherd, who entered Friday's game with a league-best 0.45 earned run average, spun seven shutout frames and scattered three Watertown hits. He walked two and struck out seven to earn his fourth victory of the season. With the win, Shepherd tied teammate Matt Gage (Siena) for the league lead in victories. The Louisa, Ky., native seated the final eight men he faced after Watertown’s A.J. Capone (Saint Rose) reached on a bunt single in the fifth.

Through four starts and 27.0 innings pitched, Shepherd has allowed one run on 11 hits and struck out 29. The rising sophomore from the University of Kentucky lowered his ERA to 0.33.

Evan Stephens served as the spark all night long for the Amsterdam offense. The left fielder walked in his first at-bat against Watertown starter Nick Bradley (Western Michigan) in the top of the first inning. He stole second and then scored on a two-out RBI single by Nathan Gomez (Marshall) to give Amsterdam a 1-0 lead. Stephens singled and swiped two bases in the third inning but it was Ed Charlton (NJIT) with a solo home run in the fifth that extended the Mohawks’ lead to two.

The biggest hit of the night for Stephens came in the seventh as the floodgates opened for the Mohawks. A single, a walk and a Watertown defensive miscue on an attempted sacrifice bunt by Demarcus Henderson (Mississippi State) loaded the bases for the Mohawks. With one out, Stephens ripped a double into the Watertown outfield that cleared the bases and spotted the nationally-ranked Mohawks a 5-0 lead. Stephens raced home from second on a Watertown throwing error to push the Amsterdam advantage to six. Stephens was part of another four-run outburst in the ninth. He singled to start the inning, moved to third on an error and scored for the second time of the night on a Nathan Gomez RBI single.

Through 15 games played, Stephens is batting a team high .471 with 24 hits in 51 at-bats. His .471 batting average leads all PGCBL hitters however he does not have enough at-bats to qualify on the league leaderboard. Stephens has also scored a team high 18 runs.

Friday night’s game in Watertown was largely a pitchers’ duel between Amsterdam’s Chandler Shepherd and Watertown’s Nick Bradley. Amsterdam led 2-0 through six before scoring four runs each in the seventh and ninth innings to take a commanding 10-2 lead.

The Mohawks improved to 2-0 on the season against the Wizards and have now outscored their rivals from Watertown 17-4 in two meetings.

Seven of nine Amsterdam starters had at least one hit and eight of nine scored run one. Nathan Gomez tied Evan Stephens for the team lead with three hits; the pair combined to drive in five of Amsterdam’s 10 runs. Jeff Boehm (Kentucky) and Zak Colby (Faulkner) each went 2-for-4 with one run scored; Boehm added an RBI. Ed Charlton’s solo home run in the fifth inning pushed his team-high total to five. He is tied for the league lead in long balls with Mohawk Valley’s Jack Morrow (Young Harris). Two of Charlton’s five home runs have been against the Wizards.

Dan Zlotnick (Marist) pitched the final two innings for Amsterdam and allowed just one earned run.

Watertown was led by Derek Hagy (UTPA) who went 2-for-5 with two RBI. Donald Walter (Cal Poly Pomona) scored two runs and belted his fifth double of the season.

Nick Bradley (Western Michigan) suffered the loss. He matched Chandler Shepherd with seven frames however he gave up six runs, four earned, on eight hits, walked two and struck out five.

Bradley and Shepherd nearly traded zeroes for the first six innings; the only blemishes against the Watertown starter came from a first-inning RBI single by Nathan Gomez and a fifth-inning home run from Ed Charlton. Bradley limited the Mohawks to two runs on five hits through the first six while Shepherd spun a three-hit shutout over the same amount of time.

The Mohawks took advantage of two costly Watertown errors in the seventh inning to score four runs on three hits. Zak Colby singled and Matt MacDowell (Dartmouth) walked to start the frame with Amsterdam leading Watertown 2-0. Demarcus Henderson attempted to sacrifice the runners over to second and third but Watertown catcher A.J. Capone (Saint Rose) could not handle the bunt in the infield grass and all three men were safe. Two batters later, Evan Stephens cleared the bases with a three-run double. The second error of the inning, committed by shortstop Chris Glynn (UW Parkside) allowed Stephens to score from second an infield single by Chase Green (SIU Edwardsville) to push the Mohawks to a 6-0 lead.

Watertown ended a streak of 16-straight innings without a run against Amsterdam in the bottom of the eighth in front of a raucous and rowdy crowd at the Fairgrounds. An infield error by the Mohawks allowed Watertown to score its first run of the season series and Jordan Enos (Holy Cross) drove in a second run in the frame with an RBI single.

With the game still within reach of Watertown entering the ninth, the Mohawks slammed the door shut on a comeback with four runs on four hits and two more Wizards’ errors. Nathan Gomez and Zak Colby each ripped RBI singles in the frame and Matt MacDowell connected on a sacrifice fly. A failed pick-off attempt by Watertown reliever Ryan Filipowicz (Holy Cross) brought home Amsterdam’s final run of the game as Jeff Boehm (Kentucky) scampered home from second. Watertown’s Derek Hagy closed out the scoring in the two hour and 45 minute contest with a two-run single in the ninth.

The Wizards and the Mohawks will play the second game of a home-and-home series on Saturday night at Shuttleworth Park. Mark Leiter Jr. (NJIT) is scheduled to make his first start for the Mohawks this season. Leiter holds the single strikeout record for Amsterdam with 74 strikeouts in 2011.

Saturday is Water Park Day at Shuttleworth Park presented by Bartyzel, Inc. Water rides and slip-and-slides will be set uo outside the baseball park beginning at 4:00 p.m. so be sure to bring your swimsuit! The game against the Wizards is scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m.

Listen to every Mohawks home game and select road games throughout the 2012 season at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/mohawksradio

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