WATERTOWN — David Elliott showed plenty of heart in his debut with the Watertown Rapids on Monday night.
Pitching for the first time since he underwent heart surgery in November and making his debut with the team, Elliott pitched five innings of relief to earn the win as the Rapids edged the Auburn Doubledays, 2-1, in a Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League game before a crowd of 264 at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.
Elliott joined the Rapids with the encouragement of his friend and current Watertown first baseman Dylan Perry, as the two have played travel ball together in the past.
Elliott came to town to visit Perry this week and quickly got a chance with the Rapids after starting pitcher and LaFargeville native Owen Parliament pitched four scoreless innings against the Doubledays.
“I loved it,” Elliott said. “Back in November, I had heart surgery, so I have a pacemaker in my chest now. So it’s a always blessing to get back on the mound, you never know how long you can play this game. I really wish my dad (David) was here to see this, he passed away nine weeks ago and I just did it for him.”
After yielding a solo home run with one out in the fifth inning, Elliott allowed only four base runners the rest of the way, including three singles and a walk, while striking out six, in a game which was played in a brisk two hours and 17 minutes.
“Yesterday was his birthday, and I just wanted to see him because I haven’t seen him since January when we went back to school,” Elliott said of Perry. “I texted that I could and he said ‘you can join us, you might as well.’ I was supposed to get the start at Utica (Sunday) night, but that called because of rain, so then I drove up here to Watertown and he (Rapids coach Ben Moxley) said ‘you’ll be the first out of the (bullpen), as long as you can.’”
“He was just electric after he gave up that home run,” Moxley said. “He just put it behind him and just kept throwing strikes.”
The Rapids (13-24), who have seven playing days left in their season, delivered perhaps their most complete win of the season pitching-wise, knocking off Central Division leader Auburn (22-15).
“A lot of the games in this league, even when you win, you’re winning 9-6, 10-7 or something like that,” Moxley said. “It’s nice to see a nice, clean baseball game on both sides and we came out on the right end of it. ... We pitched probably our best game all summer.”
Elliott was also backed by solid defensive play as catcher Thomas McCaffery threw out a runner at second base later in the fifth. After Matt Livingston singled with two outs in the top of the ninth, he was thrown out at second on a throw by right fielder Ryan Strollo while he attempted to stretch the hit into a double.
“I’m playing back home in a league, it’s little bit below this caliber of level,” said Elliott, a native of Fulton, Md., who attends Christopher Newport University in Virginia. “But we’ve still got Division I guys throwing, hitting and catching, but not like the lineups they have here, one through nine. I mean the No. 9 guy went Yahtzee on me, so it was like I had to battle all nine guys, I couldn’t take any pitches off.”
Watertown shortstop Tony Santa Maria collected two of Watertown’s three hits, including reaching on an infield single in the third to drive in the eventual winning run.
Making his fourth start of the summer, Parliament blanked Auburn in four innings, striking out six, while allowing one hit and three walks.
After Parliament totaled 71 pitches, throwing 42 for strikes, Elliott was also efficient in his five innings, firing 58 pitches, including 42 strikes.
“Just getting ahead in counts, that kind of helped me,” Parliament said. “Working ahead and that’s all I was focused on tonight, is getting ahead, trying to not walk too many guys and stuff like that. Let the defense play and I think I had some good innings.”
Parliament worked out of trouble in three of his innings, including escaping a bases-loaded jam in the third, striking out the side.
“Owen was as good as we’ve seen him this year,” Moxley said. “He hadn’t pitched in a couple weeks, so we didn’t want him to go too long, so we got him out of there after four innings, but he was great.”
“I felt good, hopefully my last start will go just as good,” Parliament said. “Throwing this summer is huge for me, so it’s been great. It’s also nice to see us win as well.”
After he underwent successful heart surgery, Elliott returned to his college team, playing third base this spring for the Captains.
“It feels really good, you never know how long you can play this game, so I’m just glad I can help the team win,” Elliott said.
Parliament is coming off his freshman season at Division I Wofford (N.C.) College and is playing his first season with the Rapids.
Watertown won with only three hits. It seized a 1-0 lead in the first as Dylan Broderick drew a leadoff walk, advanced to second base when Auburn’s catcher threw the ball away and scored on Dixon Black’s sacrifice fly.
Perry walked to lead off the third, and two outs later, Broderick reached on an infield single, as did Santa Maria, who hit a ball to deep short to drive in Perry for a 2-0 edge.
“Those balls weren’t really smoked today, but we’ll take those kind of runs when we can get them,” said Santa Maria, who attends Iona College and he also reached on an infield single in the sixth.
Broderick also made a diving catch in center field to record the first out of the fourth.
Watertown, which delivered its first win since July 11, most likely won’t qualify for the PGCBL playoffs as it continues to occupy last place in the Central.
“For sure, it’s very good to get a win,” Santa Maria said. “It’s been a rough one for us the past few games, so it’s always nice to pull out a victory.”
The Rapids have eight games left in the season, including the resumption of a suspended game at Mohawk Valley next Tuesday.
Watertown has four home games left as it hosts Utica today, Mohawk Valley on Friday, Auburn on Monday and Utica on July 29.