JUNE 5 NEW YORK COLLEGIATE BASEBALL LEAGUE — Mohawk Valley 11, Oneonta 3.
MOHAWK VALLEY 11, ONEONTA 3
LITTLE FALLS, N.Y. — A dizzy bat race.
An ice cream-eating contest.
With all the festivities going on, you would think that this was a Fourth of July party instead of opening day at Veterans Memorial Park in Little Falls on Saturday.
But it was the first day of baseball for the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs, who knocked off Oneonta’s Outlaws 11-3.
A record crowd of 2,161 showed up to watch their hometown DiamondDawgs open up their season. General manager Travis Heiser was pleased with the crowd.
“It’s a credit to the community,” Heiser said. “Without the community, this wouldn’t be possible.”
There were quite a few things for people to do before and during the game, especially for the large number of children on hand. Between innings, children could participate in contests like the uniform race, where the children put on a full-sized DiamondDawgs uniform and ran to Mohawk Valley’s new mascot, “Dollar Dog,” to a traditional race around the bases with the mascot.
“They really run it nice out here in Little Falls,” starting pitcher Joe Melioris said.
There were special events everywhere in the park: the Little Falls High School band welcomed spectators to the game and performed the national anthem with the special flagbearers for the night, the Marine Corps League.
With all the fun in and around the stadium, there were also some serious things going on. Reality Check of Central New York was at the park, handing out cards for children to sign, saying that they wanted cigarette ads out of such magazines as Sports Illustrated and ESPN the Magazine.
When all the pregame festivities were over, it was time to throw out the first pitches. The very first pitch was thrown out by the owner of the Herkimer Diamond Mines, Dr. Renee’ Scialdo Shevat. Following Shevat were several dignitaries, including the mayor of Little Falls, Bob Peters. Then, a big cheer rang through the crowd as former Yankee great and DiamondDawgs chairman Tommy John stepped up to the mound and fired a perfect strike to catcher T.J. Dougherty, just like he was back in the Major Leagues again.
Then, after all the festivities were over, the game could begin.
Melioris allowed a first-inning home run to Oneonta catcher Tom Murphy, but that was all the 6-foot-10 DiamondDawg would give up as Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs notched their first win of the season against the newest member of the New York Collegiate Baseball League’s East Division.
“You just have to get the first couple of batters under your belt,” Melioris said of the first inning which ended with Outlaws on first and second base after a pair of ground outs.
Page 2 of 2 - Then Melioris got hot in the next three innings, allowing just one batter to reach base, before being pulled in the fifth. The DiamondDawgs’ bullpen picked up the slack, with Evan Kirsch getting into a little bit of a jam of the eighth inning when he walked four straight batters before being replaced by Joe Michaud who struck out first baseman Sam Meyer and forced a double play to end the inning.
“It was a good time to knock the rust off,” manager Troy Gerlach said, referring to Kirsch who had not pitched in more than a year following surgery. “A lot of pitchers get that way.”
“All those guys that pitched today will be able to come back tomorrow,” Gerlach said of his strategy to have his relievers throw one inning each.
Overall, Gerlach was happy with the way his team played today.
“(It’s) always great to get the first (win) out of the way,” Gerlach said.
On the offensive side of the innings, the DiamondDawgs scored six runs in the fourth, while 27 batters came up in the next three innings. Sharad Johnson scored in all three of those innings, and drove home two more with a single in the sixth.
“I was just trying to drive in runs,” Johnson said. “That’s my job, (just) the little man trying to give a spark to his team.”
Jason Simone went 3-for-4 on the day, hitting three singles before walking in his last at bat. His two-run single broke a 2-2 tie in the fourth inning and he drove in a third run with another hit in the fifth.
When asked about the record crowd cheering for them, Johnson enjoyed the attention.
“I had a great time with the crowd,” Johnson said. “(It was a) great day for me and the crowd.”
The DiamondDawgs are back home Monday for a game against the Cooperstown Hawkeyes, formerly the Saratoga Phillies.
After the game, the crowd were treated to a fireworks display, sponsored by the diamond mines.
With all the batting the DiamondDawgs were doing against the Outlaws, the casual observer could say the fans got two fireworks displays.
MOHAWK VALLEY DIAMONDDAWGS 11, ONEONTA OUTLAWS 3
Oneonta 200 000 010 — 3 3 1
Mohawk Valley 000 623 000 — 11 10 3
Justin Brooks, Daniel Marrs (5), Mike Klaus (7), Stephen Streich (8) and Tom Murphy. Joe Melioris, Justin Brown (6), Tyler Rogers (7), Evan Kirsch (8), Joseph Michaud (8), Kris Barone (9) and T.J. Dougherty. W — Melioris 1-0. L — Brooks 0-1. 2B — Mohawk Valley, Matt James. HR — Oneonta, Murphy. Records — Oneonta 0-2; Mohawk Valley 1-0.