Rapids stay in playoff battle

Watertown Rapids

WATERTOWN — Alex Santos knew to expect an explosive lineup when Amsterdam traveled to Watertown for a interdivision, Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League matchup Monday.

The end result was typical for Amsterdam, a 12-3 win over the scuffling Rapids. Santos pitched five innings and allowed six runs on five hits with two walks.

Santos wanted to be aggressive against the potent offense.

“I wanted to throw strikes and pound the zone,” Santos said. “I know they’re a great hitting team, but it’s just a matter of throwing strikes and letting my defense do the work.”

Much of the Amsterdam roster consists of players from the Southeastern Conference. Santos said that he definitely noticed a difference between these batters and the ones he usually faces as a member of Rhode Island in the Atlantic 10.

“One thing I noticed is that you can’t make mistakes against these guys, they know how to capitalize on those mistakes,” Santos said. “In the A-10 we have some great hitters, but one thing I see with these guys is that they’re very balanced. You can’t miss a spot or they’re going to take advantage like they did today a couple of times.”

Santos never had an inning implode on him. The Mohawks’ three-run fourth inning was the closest the righty came to a meltdown. After giving up a home run to DJ Poleet on the first pitch of the inning, the Mohawks (29-8) only managed one more hit in the inning — a double by Dalton Reese that fell right in front of a diving Derek Kasperzyk and promptly ricocheted off of his face. The Reese double allowed two more runs to score.

With two outs, Santos got Mitch Hartigan to fly out to center to end the inning.

Santos bounced back nicely, ending his night with a 1-2-3 fifth.

“As long as I’m throwing strikes, I let my team do the work,” Santos said. “I’m controlling what I can control, so it’s just a matter of throwing strikes and knowing that the more innings I get the better I’ll be so it’s just a matter of breathing, taking deep breaths, and pounding the zone as much as I can.”

The Mohawks had a comfortable 6-1 lead when Santos departed. With reliever Spencer Vainavicz on the mound, Amsterdam tacked on two runs in the sixth. The Mohawks eventually scored six runs on the Rapids’ bullpen.

Bryce Brock, a freshman at Mississippi State, kept the Rapids’ bats quiet. Watertown came up a foot short of leaving a glaring mark on Brock’s pitching line. With the bases loaded in the third, Vinny DeRubeis muscled the first pitch to right where the wind carried the ball to the warning track before dropping it into Sam Zayicek’s glove. The Rapids did get a run out of the long out, as Kasperzyk tagged up and jogged home, but Watertown’s best opportunity to make a splash had pass.

Brock pitched six innings, allowing two runs on six hits.

Jonathan Catapano managed to record one of those hits, an RBI single that was rocketed up the middle in the sixth.

“Early on in the game we saw that he liked his curve ball a lot. He liked to get ahead with it but he was leaving his fastball over the plate a lot,” Catapano said. “In that at-bat where I got the RBI, I was just looking for a fastball, something that I could put a good swing on and had a good result.”

The loss dropped the fourth-place Rapids to 15-22, only a game up in the loss column on fifth-place Elmira. The Rapids have nine games left, including six on the road, to hold off Elmira for the West Division’s final playoff berth.

Of the final nine, two are against Mohawk Valley (second place in the East), two are against Geneva (second place in the West), one against Utica (first in the West) and one against Elmira (a half-game behind Watertown). The Rapids are scheduled to play at Elmira on Friday.

“Just keep playing, keep fighting,” Rapids coach Mike Wood said. “They show me that they want to compete and try to win every day. ... We’re going to put the best lineup out there and try to win.”

The Rapids play tonight at Oneonta at 7:05.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

Sports Writer

Beat writer for Section 3 high school football, Frontier League boys and girls basketball, Frontier League baseball and Frontier League softball.

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