WATERTOWN — Geordon Blanton helped the Amsterdam Mohawks steal a win and then he put an exclamation point on it.
Blanton stole home in the eighth inning and capped off the win with a three-run home in the ninth to guide Amsterdam to a 7-3 victory over the Watertown Rapids (7-4) in a battle of Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League division leaders Sunday at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.
Longtime Mohawks manager Keith Griffin saw something in Rapids reliever Mark Maestri and gave Blanton the cue to take home. Blanton said his manager gave him the idea.
“I can’t take credit for it because it was all his call,” Blanton said. “I’ve never really done it before in a game straight like that.”
Amsterdam (9-2) had been struggling at the plate in recent games, so Griffin decided to manufacture the eventual winning run. The Mohawks pushed across the pivotal run without registering a hit.
“I didn’t really consider that a risk because I thought the numbers added up that we could steal home,” Griffin said. “He’s really fast, he got a good lead, a good jump and we talked about stealing when the opportunity presented itself.”
Max Costes added three hits and Danny Watson pitched two-plus innings of relief for Amsterdam, which leads the East Division and owns the league’s best record. The defense and bullpen have kept the Mohawks on the winning track so far.
“Our pitchers have been the focal point of our team so far,” Blanton said. “Once our hitters come around, we’ll be really tough to handle.”
James Krick belted a two-run home run in the first while Emil Matti, Drake Smith and Vinny DeRubeis each collected two hits for Watertown, which is now a half-game behind idle Geneva in the PGCBL West. The Rapids had chances to add to the lead, but their hard-hit balls were snared by the Mohawks’ fielders.
“It’s super frustrating especially when guys are struggling and get a barrel on it only to look up and see it caught,” Krick said.
Amsterdam clawed back runs in the fourth and fifth innings to tie the game before taking the lead in the seventh. Watertown tied the game in the bottom half of the inning. However, it didn’t get a chance to add more runs because the home plate umpire ruled Krick intentionally got hit by a Watson pitch.
“It was probably the biggest play in the game,” Rapids manager Mike Wood said. “It’s disappointing, but you got to kind of put it behind you and move on.”
Krick subsequently struck out and the Rapids’ chance at more runs was snuffed out. Watertown would only get a single thereafter.
“It was frustrating for the guys because we had a rally going and that kind of put a halt to that,” Krick said.
Blanton, a second baseman, then put the game out of reach for the Mohawks with a great diving defensive play in the eighth on DeRubeis and then his homer.
Watertown hosts Albany at 6:15 tonight.