Rapids’ regular-season finale at home canceled

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WATERTOWN — The outcome of Sunday’s game for the Watertown Rapids wasn’t nearly as dramatic as the night before, but was still a welcome one for the team.

A day after winning in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Rapids grinded out an 11-2 victory over the Utica Blue Sox on Sunday in a Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League game at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.

Watertown (3-4) broke open a close game by scoring nine unanswered runs, including six in the seventh inning, en route to winning back-to-back games for the first time this season.

“I think our team is just starting to hit our stride with just staying even keeled, not going too high or too low with bad things that happen,” Watertown coach Ben Moxley said. “We’re just staying even keeled and that’s allowing us to wait for the big inning and keeping us in the game, and not blowing up. If we make an error, we don’t make another error, which keeps us in a good place.”

The Rapids also avenged a 16-14 loss at Central Division leader Utica on Friday night in which they scored a season-high total in runs in a game, only to be turned away.

“After the walk-off we all were pretty excited, high energy,” Watertown catcher Jordan Dissin said. “And facing these guys, last time at their place, we could feel a little bit of fire under our rear ends to come out and win this game today, it was a great game.”

On Sunday, four Watertown players totaled two hits each — among them Dixon Black and Ryan Strollo, who each drove in two runs — as well as Dissin and Hazel Martinez.

The Rapids also received a clutch performance from newcomer Peter Jones, who pitched three scoreless relief innings to win in his team debut.

“We’ve also got some more pitchers in which helps a lot,” Moxley said. “Pete Jones threw great out of the bullpen tonight, Peter Ostensen closed last it night, both came in the last two days, so the roster is starting to get there.”

After tying the score at 2-2 in the fifth as Dissin singled and scored when Dylan Broderick reached on a fielder’s choice, the Rapids plated the go-ahead run in the sixth. Black hit a leadoff single and came home on Dylan Perry’s lineout to left field.

“I think as a unit, we all felt good, it felt like we were seeing the ball well,” said Black, a third baseman from Monmouth who delivered Saturday’s game-winning hit. “We were able to put some good innings together.”

The Rapids broke the game open in the seventh with six runs as after Martinez doubled, Dissin reached on another infield single and Dave Stirpe executed a perfect bunt single, Strollo followed with an RBI single. After Broderick reached on an RBI fielder’s choice and two more runs came home on throwing errors, Black delivered a two-run single and Perry singled in a run for 9-2 lead.

“We just stayed in it, stayed in it and kept making plays,” Moxley said. “And they started not making plays and we have some pretty good team speed, which means other teams are in trouble when they start not making plays.”

“I think most of our runs like in this game and even in our season, come when we’re real aggressive on the basepaths,” said Dissin (University of Richmond), who reached base four times, including on a pair of singles, and scored two runs.

Watertown tacked on two more runs in the eighth, as Martinez scored on an error and Strollo supplied an RBI single.

“We also did a better job with two strikes tonight, we’ve been striking out a little bit too much,” Moxley said. “But tonight we put the ball in play when we got down and put pressure on the defense.”

Rapids starter Anthony Espinoza, making his first start, allowed two runs over five innings in a no decision, striking out three while walking three.

Jones then pitched a scoreless sixth and allowed a base runner in each of the next two innings, but struck out three.

“Pete’s a high-school kid, he’s going to Hamilton College next year,” Moxley said of Jones, who hails from Connecticut. “He’s got really good stuff and he just pounds the zone, he’s a got next-level slider and he knows where it’s going.”

Watertown High graduate Ryan Peters pitched a scoreless ninth as Watertown’s three pitchers allowed five hits.

After Utica scored an unearned run in the top of the first inning, Watertown drew even at 1-1 on Tony Santa Maria’s RBI single in the bottom of the inning. The Blue Sox reclaimed the lead at 2-1 in the fourth on run-scoring single from Ryan Enos.

Black provided the heroics on Saturday for the Rapids, who rallied from a 4-0 deficit in the late innings to win on Dixon’s hit in the ninth, which nearly left the park, to prevail, 5-4 over Auburn.

“That was a really fun game, a really great exciting atmosphere, we’ve got a great group of guys to play with,” Black added.

The two wins follow a season-high four-game losing skid. Watertown has also now scored 30 runs in its past three games.

“Hopefully we can just try and keep it going,” Black said. “I think we’re a really close-knit group, we’ve got some good chemistry here.”

“Obviously after (Saturday) night and then coming out here tonight and really playing a complete baseball game, everything looks like it’s headed in the right direction,” Moxley said.

n NOTES: Strollo, who attends Fairfield, also joined the team this weekend. ... The Rapids play at Mohawk Valley at 6:35 p.m. Monday before hosting Utica on Tuesday and Mohawk Valley on Wednesday, both 6:30 p.m. starts at the Fairgrounds.

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