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Newcomer Limbaugh blasts game-winning homer against Wizards

(Photo: Jeff Limbaugh is greeted after hitting a three-run home run that gave the Mohawks an 8-5 lead. Picture courtesy of Jon Sargalis.)

By Bob Rotruck

Box Score

The newest Mohawk, Jeff Limbaugh, launched an eighth inning blast over the Chain Monster in left-field breaking a late 5-5 tie and propelling Amsterdam to an 8-5 victory on Thursday night over the Watertown Wizards. Limbaugh (Parkland CC) was playing just his third game for the Amsterdam Mohawks as he launched his first home-run in the PGCBL for the game-winner.

Amsterdam trailed 4-0 in the first two innings of the game and scratched and clawed their way back to a 5-5 tie setting the stage for Limbaugh's three-run shot. Limbaugh played last year at Parkland CC but is transferring to play at Wright State in Dayton, Ohio next season. He was acquired just this past Tuesday due to other injuries on the #4 ranked team in the country.

The Mohawks; 25th win of the year officially ensures a winning record for Amsterdam (out of 48 regular season games) as they improve their league-leading mark to 25-6. The Mohawks maintain a 7.5 game advantage at the top of the league standings with only 17 games remaining in the regular season. Watertown falls to 13-18.

Giuseppe Papaccio (Seton Hall) had a key two-run triple for Amsterdam and D.J. Hoagboon (U. Albany) tied the game in the sixth with a two-run single. Hoagboon is 15 for his last 27 after a 2-for-3 night with two RBI.

Connor Kaden (Wake Forest) pitched shutout relief in the seventh and eighth to improve to 2-1 and Chase Williamson (Auburn) fired a perfect ninth for his sixth save.

Watertown would strike early and often in building a 4-0 lead in the first two innings against the league's top pitcher, Chandler Shephard (Kentucky). At 5-0 with a 0.26 ERA, Shephard easily had the best stats in the PGCBL. But his 18 inning shutout streak came to an end on a first-inning solo home-run by Brandon Cipolla (Holy Cross). Although it almost wasn't to be as Mohawks center-fielder Evan Stephens (Wake Forest) timed his leap perfectly at the fence in left-center and showed a terrific vertical jumping ability in almost making the defensive play of the year. Stephens reached up and over the fence at the peak of his jump and had the ball in his glove briefly but as he tried to snap his arm back to avoid a collision with the top of the fence the ball just did come free and landed on the other side for the homer.

Three straight doubles for Watertown in the top of the second would help push their lead to 4-0. Cole Gleason (Wabash Valley) led off the inning to start the rally with his liner into the right-field corner. Then Chris Glynn (UW Parkside) and Peter Rajkovich (San Joaquin Delta) followed with two-baggers of their own. A.J. Capone's (Saint Rose) squeeze-bunt brought in the team's fourth run of the game while Shephard was struggling to find the quality stuff he had displayed in his previous starts in which he had allowed just one earned run in 34 innings entering play.

Amsterdam's comeback would get started in the fourth with Josh Nethaway (U. Albany) reaching safely on an error and coming around on Jeff Boehm's (Kentucky) RBI single.

A two-run triple by Papaccio in the fifth would pull the Mohawks to within a run at 4-3. He plated Jeff Limbaugh and Evan Stephens (Wake Forest).

Shephard had settled down from his rocky start but was touched for one more run in his sixth and last inning of the night. Chris Glynn's RBI double to right plated Cipolla who had led off the frame with a single.

Watertown led 5-3 in the middle of the sixth.

Hoagboon would come through again with a game-tying single to left to make it 5-5. Nethaway and Boehm started off the inning with consecutive singles and were advanced on a sacrifice-bunt by Brian Ruby (Binghamton) to set the table for the Mayfield native, Hoagboon.

Both teams would exchange scoring chances for the next couple innings with Connor Kaden of Amsterdam and Drew Qunniey (Savannah State) of Watertown squeaking their way out of it.

But then the eighth inning threat would finally be capitalized on by the Mohawks. Boehm singled up the midle and was replaced on a fielder's choice by Ruby. Hoagboon was hit by a pitch and removed for pinch-runner Demarcus Henderson (Mississippi State) for extra speed on the based. Turns out that the Mohawks didn't need that speed. Limbaugh launched a hanger from Kole Mickolio (Utah Valley) over the left-center Chain Monster for a dramatic time to pick up his first Amsterdam dinger to make it 8-5.

That sent a disappointed Wizards team back to their bus for the long three-and-a-half hour bus ride home to the North Country after failing to hold the early 4-0 advantage.

For Amsterdam, the comeback win has to be considered one of the best of the season as they scratched their way back to a tie game, held off a couple of potential Watertown rallies, and were able to get the key late drive to win the game.

The Mohawks are 4-0 against the Wizards this year with one more game remaining in the regular season series, on Sunday back at Shuttleworth Park in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam continues their homestand Friday night renewing their rivalry with the Glens Falls Golden Eagles. Mark Leiter (2-0, 1.50) will start for the Mohawks. Pre-game Happy Hour with Live entertainment will begin the festivities at 5:30 and then the game at 7:05. The Mohawks will be wearing specialty jerseys for one game only presented by St. Mary's Health Care with a silent auction for the jerseys taking place during the game.

The Mohawks also have upcoming home games on Sunday and Tuesday.

The game was the third of six consecutive on the road for the Wizards who do not return home until Monday night. The Wizards travel to Newark on Friday night and will be returning to the Rug City on Sunday at 7:00.

Follow the action of Mohawks baseball this season on ustream.tv/channel/mohawksradio

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