WATERTOWN — Kyle Schmack and his fellow Utica Blue Sox continued their dominance of the Watertown Rapids on Tuesday night.
Schmack, who has a fitting name for a power hitter, and the Blue Sox teed off on the Rapids once again, this time for a 10-6 victory in a Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League game before a turnout of 184 at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.
Sparked by Schmack, who belted a two-run home run in the second inning, Utica (14-8) totaled five runs in the first two innings on seven hits to take command early.
The Central Division-leading Blue Sox have now won eight of nine meetings with the Rapids this season.
“We jumped on them, which is what we’re trying to preach a little bit,” Utica coach Doug Delett said. “Let’s get out early and put the pressure on the other team. Because in college games like these, I’m not comfortable even with a five-run lead, anything can happen here.”
Watertown (8-19), which has lost 11 of its past 12 games, sits in last place, now 8 1/2 games behind Utica, and seven games out of playoff position in the division.
“It’s just a matter of, it’s something different every night, that’s what’s tough,” Watertown coach Ben Moxley said. “I think our at-bats for the most part were fine, they had a good pitcher. But our guy just wasn’t as good tonight. He’ll be better next time, he was better last time, it’s just running into a good arm when you don’t put it all together.”
“We’re all definitely still having fun, we’re not like getting super frustrated, we’re trying to keep calm and keep working at it and keep doing the same thing we’re doing every day,” Rapids center fielder Ryan Strollo said.
Schmack also delivered a two-run double in the sixth inning, singled and scored a pair of runs.
“It just felt good to play today, I’ve been working on a lot of stuff and coach has been helping me out a lot,” said Schmack, who attends Valparaiso and is a native of Wanatah, Ind. “So, I’m actually starting to put it together.”
Utica struck for three runs in the first inning on a two-run single from Tanner Kim and a bases-loaded walk and led 5-0 on Schmack’s blast over the left-field wall on a 3-2 offering from Brendan Williams.
“It was a curveball, it felt nice to get one under my belt,” said Schmack, who hit his first home run of the summer season.
“Brendan threw enough outs, but just one little mental mistake,” Moxley said. “That’s baseball, it happens, but not covering first there really hurt, they got some hits after that and that’s how they scored in the first. When you get down 5-0, it’s tough.”
Watertown native Ryan Peters relieved Williams in the third inning and allowed just a single run in the fifth inning in three innings of work.
The Rapids drew within 6-2 with single runs in the fourth as Strollo tripled off the right-center field wall and scored on an RBI flyout to left by Dixon Black, and Dylan Perry walked to lead off the fifth and came home on Jordan Dissin’s single to left field.
But the Blue Sox responded with three runs in the sixth, capped by Schmack’s two-run double to the left-field wall for a 9-2 lead to break the game open.
“I think we’re not playing bad baseball at all,” said Strollo (Fairfield University), who recorded two of Watertown’s five hits on the night, driving in two and scoring twice. “I feel like we’re just getting a little unlucky. I feel like we’re putting up a lot of runs, I feel like our pitching is doing well, it just seems like somehow the other team gets to squeak it out every time for the past I don’t know how many games.”
Watertown chipped away by scoring twice in the sixth on Strollo’s RBI double down the left-field line and a run-scoring single from Black, and drew within 9-5 in the eighth on Strollo’s run-scoring sacrifice fly to center.
Utica added a run in the ninth on Eddie Javier Jr.’s RBI single before the Rapids plated a run in the bottom of the inning on newcomer Rob Conley’s run-scoring groundout.
“Our pitching staff is just not deep enough in terms of the number of guys we have,” Moxley said. “If we get down 5-0, Peters gave us a good little bridge to the bullpen, just a little midweek work for him because he’ll start later in the week. But we just don’t have enough pitchers to go for the win every night or if we get down, put in our best arm to hold it there and then come back. We just don’t have the guys to do that.”
Starting pitcher Aidan Layton allowed two runs on two hits in five innings to record the win for the Blue Sox, while walking two and striking out three.
“Aidan’s got a live arm, has good-arm action and throws the ball really well,” Delett said. “We still need to tweak him a little bit, but he’s got good (velocity), he’s got an idea of how to pitch.”
The two top teams in each of the PGCBL’s three divisions will qualify for the playoffs this season.
The Rapids, who are now 6-9 at home, have 21 games remaining in their regular season.
“Guys are getting better, but it’s like are we going to get better tomorrow or in two weeks, where’s everything at when it happens?” Moxley said. “Right now we’re just focusing on getting better individually and that’s my focus for the most part. ... We’re just trying to work through it and continue to get better, rather than just showing up and playing a game.”
Watertown plays at Utica today and at Auburn on Thursday.
“It’s baseball, stuff happens,” Strollo said. “So we’re just going to keep grinding it out and hopefully we get hot.”