WATERTOWN — Owen Parliament and the Watertown Rapids won’t go away.
The LaFargeville native smacked a walk-off, RBI single in the 10th inning as Watertown staved off elimination with a 5-4 Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League victory over the Utica Blue Sox on Tuesday night at Toyota Field at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.
“This is a gritty group,” said Parliament, who plays at Binghamton University. “I know we struggled in the beginning, but we came together in the end and we’ve got a good group.”
Parliament’s single gives the Rapids a 19-23 record and they remain one-half game behind the fifth-place Albany Dutchmen (19-22) in the East Division after Albany beat the Glens Falls Dragons, 7-5.
Both teams are trying to chase down the idle and fourth-place Oneonta Outlaws (22-21), who stand two games ahead of the Dutchmen, while Watertown moved to within 2 1/2 games of Oneonta.
The top four teams in each division will qualify for the playoffs.
Former Lyme Central standout and incoming St. Lawrence University pitcher Mike Flyzik picked up the win after pitching four innings of strong relief for Watertown. Elvis Lopez collected three hits and Connor Maxwell doubled, singled drove in a run for the Rapids.
Ryan Maka and Kade Reinertson each supplied two hits for Utica (26-16), which now sits 1 1/2 games behind the first-place Batavia Muckdogs (27-14) in the PGCBL’s West Division. Jonathan Rosario took the loss for the Blue Sox.
Watertown is still mathematically alive for a postseason spot despite an early 13-game losing streak in June. The Rapids thought they had sewn up the win earlier, but a couple of questionable calls almost cost them a playoff spot.
“It was a little rough towards the end, but this team fights,” Flyzik said. “We’ve faced adversity every single game, but we always try to come back and win.”
Utica got on the board first with a pair of runs in the fifth after a passed ball and a Lukas Schramm double. Watertown responded after former Lowville standout Brett Myers singled in Maxwell, who reached third base after a throwing error by Utica starter Alex Canino, to cut the lead to 2-1.
“We were very flat to start off the game,” Maxwell said. “We just needed something to spark us and we took off after that.”
The Blue Sox tacked on a run in the sixth with an Edwin Tavarez RBI single, but Flyzik entered the game in the seventh after Rapids’ starter Josh Ruiz gave up a leadoff hit. Flyzik managed to work his way out of a bases-loaded jam to keep the game close.
“He’s going to be a tough pitcher to face four years in college,” Rapids coach Mike Kogut said. “He goes out no matter the situation and gave up zero runs with bases loaded no out and first and second no outs.”
Watertown then took the lead with a three-run seventh inning that was capped off by Clay Grady’s ground rule-double for a 4-3 lead.
Flyzik set down Utica in order and things look good heading into the ninth. However, Maka singled after a possible third strike was called a ball. The Blue Sox scored Maka after a Reinertson double to tie the game at four, but Flyzik managed to calm down and finish the inning and keep Utica off the board in the 10th.
“For him to be a high school senior and do that, was just incredible,” Maxwell said. “He came in and got outs and gave us a chance to win along with Josh.”
The Rapids thought they won the game after Lopez singled, but Grady was called out at the plate in a very close play at the plate after a throw from center fielder Chris Fernandez. Kogut and the Rapids were visibly upset with the call that could have cost them a playoff spot.
“I felt like a bunch of things did not go our way,” Kogut said. “To not get credit for the game-winning run made me a little hot.”
However, Malachi Flaherty was inserted as a pinch runner for Lopez and Tyree Bradley worked a walk that moved Flaherty to second. This set up Parliament’s winning-moment as he took the Rosario pitch to left field and Flaherty scored after the Blue Sox couldn’t get a second out at plate of the inning.
“I knew if I put something in play that I knew he (Flaherty) was going to score,” Parliament said.
Watertown now hosts the Newark Pilots at 6:30 p.m. today in a must-win game. However, the Rapids are still glad to be alive with three games left and loads of adversity.
“We’ve got to reset, put this one in the past and win another one,” Flyzik said.
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