One down, three to go.
Cooperstown won its first playoff game in franchise history Friday as the Hawkeyes beat the visiting Newark Pilots, 6-2, in the opener of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League West Division Championship Series.
The Pilots will host Cooperstown for Game 2 of the best-of-three series at 7:05 p.m. Saturday. If necessary, Cooperstown will host a third game at 1 p.m. Sunday at Doubleday Field to determine which team will represent the West in the PGCBL Championship Series next week.
The West winner will play Glens Falls or Amsterdam, who finished the regular season as the top two teams in the East. Amsterdam beat Glens Falls, 4-3, on Friday and will host Game 2 of the East Division Championship Series at 7:05 p.m. Saturday.
If necessary, those teams will meet for a third game at 7:05 p.m. Sunday at Glens Falls.
Ben Miller's inside-the-park grand slam in the bottom of the seventh inning Friday at Doubleday Field proved to be the difference in Cooperstown's victory.
Hawkeyes scorekeeper Tom Heitz said Miller drove a pitch from reliever Andrew Tidwell to the left-center field gap, where outfielders Michael Bolling and Luke Swenson collided.
"Miller hit a long flyball, almost to the wall," said Heitz, who added the game drew an announced attendance of 761. "They caught up with it, but the ball fell in when they collided."
Heitz said a 22-minute injury delay followed after left fielder Swenson attempted to make a diving catch. Swenson's head crashed into center fielder Bolling, Heitz said, and both players remained down while Miller rounded the bases to give Cooperstown a 6-1 lead.
Swenson and Bolling left the field via ambulance and were taken to Bassett Hospital, Heitz said.
Alex Meadow opened Cooperstown's at-bats in the seventh with a groundout to shortstop, but J.P. Sportman followed with a single to left field. Delhi graduate Luke Burns then singled to center, and the two advanced with Danny Nelson at the plate. Sportman stole second on a pitch that resulted in a passed ball for Newark catcher Adam Grace, allowing Burns to take second.
Carson Beauchaine then hit Nelson with a pitch, ending the day for Newark's starting pitcher. Tidwell then came in and gave up the gapper to Miller, which resulted in three more earned runs for Beauchaine.
Cooperstown took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on back-to-back sacrifice flies by Bryan Aanderud and Ben Manlove. The Pilots cut their deficit in half with a run on a bases-loaded hit by pitch in the sixth against Hawkeyes starter Tyler Broome. He struck out seven, walked one and hit three batters in seven innings.
After Miller put Cooperstown ahead, 6-1, in the seventh, Newark capped the scoring when Shayne Herold hit an RBI single in the eighth against reliever Terrance Moore.
Parker Ray closed with a 1-2-3 ninth for the Hawkeyes, who won despite getting outhit, 9-7.
HAWKEYES 6, PILOTS 2
PGCBL WEST SERIES GAME 1
at Doubleday Field
Newark     000 001 010 _ 2 9 2
Cooperstown     200 000 40x _ 6 7 2
Tyler Broome (W), Terrance Moore (8), Parker Ray (9) and Ben Manlove. Carson Beauchaine (L), Andrew Tidwell (7) and Adam Grace. 2B _ Michael Bolling (N). HR _ Ben Miller (C). A _ 761.