R & B on the march

Rich Fyle column

From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:

The Watertown Rapids have been scuffling — trying to get out of the way of their own two feet — over the past four weeks, but the good news is that the team can control its playoff destiny over the final two weeks of the regular season.

A quick 7-3 start over the first 10 games has faded to a 6-16 stretch since to result in a 13-19 record, still good enough for third place in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League’s West Division.

Eight teams will qualify for the playoffs, with four teams from each division playing first-round, single-elimination games. The division finals and PGCBL finals will be best-of-three series.

While Utica (22-11) and Geneva (20-11) will be fighting it out for top spot in the West, Watertown is 8 1/2 games out of first place, but can still hold on for either third or fourth place for a postseason berth.

Fourth-place Adirondack (13-21) is a game behind Watertown, while Elmira (12-21) and last-place Newark (12-22) are close. The Pilots are two games out of third place.

The Rapids have 14 games in the regular season, six at home and eight on the road. They have suffered six postponements (seven including a June 15 exhibition), and two cancellations that included a suspended game with the team one out away from a win June 29.

Seven total games are left vs. Adirondack, Elmira and Newark, and an eighth game remains at Oneonta (11-24).

The Rapids’ schedule favors them for clinching a playoff berth, but Watertown must begin to play better against Elmira, which has won the past five meetings by an aggregate 40-24 score.

The Rapids have lost eight of 11 in July, but neither Adirondack, Elmira nor Newark can assemble a hot streak. Elmira, in fact, snapped a six-game losing streak with Sunday’s 8-2 win over Watertown.

The Rapids are hitting .253 as a team in 32 games, with 16 home runs and an impressive 70 stolen bases. However, the Rapids’ run differential is a poor minus-44, and the 54 errors are the fourth most in the 12-team league and have yielded 47 unearned runs. The team’s 4.76 ERA ranks sixth and is better than each of the Rapids’ nearby playoff competitors.

The Rapids’ most challenging part of the schedule will be the final week, playing doubleheaders at Mohawk Valley (23-11) on July 28 and at Geneva on July 31.

Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at rfyle@wdt.net

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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