Jammers Set Their Sights On League Championship
When the Jamestown Jammers look across the diamond toward the home dugout Sunday at Veterans Memorial Park in Little Falls, they will see what manager Anthony Barone calls a “mirror image” of themselves in the Mohawk Valley Diamond Dawgs.
Game 1 of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League Championship Series will be played at 6:35 p.m. with the East Division champion Diamond Dawgs hosting the West Division champion Jammers.
“It’s been a really good season, not only winning the West side in the regular season, but also the West Division title in the postseason,” Barone said Friday morning. ” … I know our guys definitely want to finish this off by winning the league championship.”
Mohawk Valley clinched the East Division title Thursday night by upsetting No. 1 Amsterdam, 4-3, in 10 innings for a 2-0 series sweep.
“Amsterdam has a smaller ballpark and more runs are scored in that type of environment. Mohawk Valley is a little different. They play really fundamental baseball with really good defense and good pitching,” Barone said. ” … Anything you get against Mohawk Valley you have to earn.”
Jamestown captured the West Division crown with a 2-0 series sweep of Elmira after beating the Pioneers, 7-4, on Thursday at Dunn Field.
The Jammers finished the regular season with a 34-15 record and scored 343 runs in those 49 games, but did so with the help of just 16 home runs and 79 doubles. Likewise, the Diamond Dawgs finished with a 29-18 record and scored 280 runs in those 47 games, doing so with just 20 home runs and 81 doubles.
Jamestown did finish with a .286 batting average — good for third best behind Amsterdam and Elmira — while the Jammers also got on base at a .407 clip, good for second behind Amsterdam.
Where the two teams shined was on the mound and in the field.
The Jammers led the league with a 3.29 earned run average, a .226 batting average against and a miniscule .295 slugging percentage against. Mohawk Valley wasn’t too shabby itself with the league’s third-best ERA at 3.84 to go along with a .238 batting average against and a .346 slugging percentage against.
Defensively, Jamestown led the league with a .964 fielding percentage while Mohawk Valley tied for second with a .962 fielding percentage.
Isaac Meza will make his first start for the Jammers in Game 1 on Sunday, but he has been one of the Jammers’ most dominant pitchers this summer. The CSU Bakersfield right-hander is 1-0 with a 1.73 ERA to go along with a save.
“He’s come on in the second half of the year. I think he’s been more valuable out of the bullpen, but due to the fact he got a clean four innings the other day and he got his pitch count up, I think it’s going to work out perfectly,” Barone said. “I think he’s ready for the big game.”
“He told me the other day that I was going to get the start and I’m excited for the opportunity,” Meza added Friday evening. “When I come out of the bullpen, I usually throw out of the stretch, but Sunday I will incorporate a windup … probably throw my changeup a little bit more often.”
In 26 regular-season innings, Meza allowed just 18 hits and five walks while striking out 20.
“We’re going to let him go as long as he’s successful,” Barone said. “If we can get five, six innings out of him that’d be great.”
The 6-foot-3, 235-pounder followed up his regular season with four innings of one-hit, two-strikeout pitching in a 3-2 win over Onondaga in the first round Tuesday.
“It always helps to have a good outing when you are going into the first start in quite some time,” Meza said. “I’m pretty confident in my ability to compete.”
Mohawk Valley will counter with Tyler Ksiazek, who hasn’t pitched since a six-inning performance in a victory over Glens Falls on July 29. The right-hander from Monmouth University went 4-1 with a 3.96 ERA in nine starts this summer, striking out 47 in 50 innings pitched.
A pair of off days should allow both teams to go back to their “aces” for Monday’s Game 2 in Jamestown, which would allow the Jammers to throw David Lyskawa (Niagara County Community College) on a full five days of rest since beating Onondaga on Tuesday. Lyskawa went 5-1 with a 1.89 ERA in six regular-season starts this summer, striking out 53 in 38 innings before winning Tuesday’s game against the Flames, throwing seven innings while allowing just one earned run.
That would then line up Bradley Griggs (University of Texas-San Antonio) to throw an if-necessary Game 3 on Tuesday back at Diethrick Park. Griggs went 4-2 in the regular season with 38 strikeouts in 50 1/3 innings pitched before winning Wednesday’s game against the Pioneers, throwing six innings while allowing two earned runs.
The teams met just once during the regular season with Mohawk Valley beating the Jammers, 2-0, at Diethrick Park on June 24. Ksiazek was the winner on the night with six innings of shutout pitching as he allowed just four hits while Griggs took the loss. Their game scheduled for July 1 in Little Falls was rained out.