Diamonds in the Ruff: DiamondDawgs capture PGCBL title

Zach Vennaro hurled two shutout innings to pick up the save in the deciding game of the 2017 PGCBL Championship Series. (Photo: TRAVIS LARNER)

Sophomore Tim Zeng (Fairfield University) drove in three runs in the DiamondDawgs 8-4 win over the Jamestown Jammers in game three of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League Championship series Tuesday night at Russell Diethrick Park, securing the championship.

The title is the DiamondDawgs’ second in the last three years and makes it six straight years in which either they or the Amsterdam Mohawks have been the league champion. The DiamondDawgs won game one 11-1, but fell to the Jammers 5-2 in game two, making a third game necessary.

Sophomore Clay Koniencki (Monmouth University) also contributed a pair of RBI for the DiamondDawgs, who scored five of their runs over the course of three innings to take the lead.

The Jammers started the scoring in the bottom of the second, picking up two runs. Junior Skyler Valentine (University of Texas-San Antonio) led off the inning with a single to left field, quickly coming around to score when junior Alex O’Donnell (Mercyhurst University) drove the ball into right field for an RBI triple. O’Donnell’s college teammate and fellow junior Jimmy Standohar (Mercyhurst University) followed with a single to right, plating O’Donnell.

But the DiamondDawgs responded in the top of the third, taking a 3-2 lead with three runs of their own. The bases became loaded on a walk to junior Dan Deely (Sacramento State), a single to center for sophomore Lucas Terwilliger (SUNY Adelphi) and a single to left for sophomore Joe Engel (Columbia University). Deely scored on a sacrifice fly out for Zeng and Koniencki delivered a two-run triple to bring in Terwilliger and Engel.

Sophomore Ben Porter (Columbia University) smacked a home run in the top of the fourth to extend the lead for the DiamondDawgs, but the Jammers got runs back in the bottom half. After Valentine and O’Donnell walked, freshman Connor Rule (Kansas State) singled into center, allowing Valentine to score. Another single, this one for junior John Conti (Canisius College), brought in O’Donnell.

The DiamondDawgs added another run in the fifth on a double to right field for Zeng, plating sophomore Alexis Monge-Rodriguez (Barry University). Monge-Rodriguez had tripled to center earlier in the inning.

Over the final two innings, the DiamondDawgs scored three more runs to put the game out of reach. In the eighth inning, Porter walked and stole second, putting him in scoring position for Deely’s at bat. Deely took advantage of the opportunity, knocking a 2-2 pitch into left field for an RBI double, with junior Austin Pollack being thrown out trying to score after walking earlier.

In the ninth inning, Engel singled, reached second on a wild pitch and headed to third on an error which allowed Monge-Rodriguez to reach first. Zeng drove in Engel on a fielders choice, being called safe at first and moving Monge-Rodriguez to third. Monge-Rodriguez then scored on a single to center for sophomore Russ Olive (University of Massachusetts-Lowell).

Olive’s RBI improved his team playoff record to nine.

Conti singled to lead off the bottom of the ninth, reaching third with only one out, but a strikeout and a ground out clinched the win and title for the DiamondDawgs.

Sophomore Colin Johnston (Monroe Community College/Greece) pitched one-third of an inning in relief for the Jammers, allowing one hit.

Redshirt sophomore Levi Abrahamson (Treasure Valley Community College) and junior Zach Vennaro (University of Mount Olive/Monroe C.C.) combined to throw four scoreless innings in relief for the DiamondDawgs, giving up four hits and one walk with two strikeouts.

The DiamondDawgs finish the playoffs at 5-1, while the Jammers end at 4-2.

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