Credit the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs with an all-around effort.
And while the weather continued to heat up on the first day of summer, the same can’t be said for the Watertown Wizards.
Left-hander Josh Means and two relief pitchers combined on a five-hitter and struck out 16 as Mohawk Valley downed slumping Watertown, 9-2, on Wednesday in a Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League game at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.
“That was a tough one,” said Watertown manager Nathan Kafka, whose team was dealt a third consecutive setback. “But we know we’ve got to get better.”
Means, who attends Fort Scott Community College in Kansas, out dueled Alex Solis (St. Mary’s, Texas), who struck out nine in seven innings, handing the lefty his first loss of the season.
“Means has been good for us all season,” Mohawk Valley manager Roberto Vaz said. “He’s somebody that we needed to help stop the bleeding, and he pitched a couple games where we didn’t play very well. He came out (tonight) and set a good tone for us and did a good job of minimizing that inning where we had two errors in a row.”
Means won for the first time in three starts, as the DiamondDawgs (4-7) snapped a three-game losing streak and won for just the second time in seven games.
“I felt good out there, I felt stronger as the game went along,” Means said. “We really needed a win to break the streak. We did well tonight.”
“He was good, he’s definitely one of the tougher pitchers we’ve seen,” Kafka said of Means.
Watertown (5-7) led 2-1 by scoring a run each in the second and third innings, both unearned, as Christian Hickman walked and scored on a pair of errors and Riley Norton reached on a bunt single and later came home on a throwing error.
But the Wizards’ defense let them down as Mohawk Valley scored three unearned runs in the fourth inning to take the lead for good at 4-2 — keyed by Tom Valichka’s two run double — which followed two consecutive infield errors.
Chris Cruz (Cornell) homered to right field in the fifth inning and drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning as Mohawk Valley led 6-2, and then added an RBI single in a three-run ninth.
To compound matters, the Wizards put seven runners in scoring position after the third inning, but failed to score and left 11 runners on base overall.
“Defense, hitting with runners in scoring position and our pitching,” said Kafka, “all aspects of our game that we need to get better at — and hope I have a group of guys that want to do that.”
Solis, named the league’s pitcher of the week, allowed six runs, only three earned, and six hits in seven innings of work.
“I thought he threw the ball well,” Kafka said of Solis. “We got a good start from him, but we made a couple mistakes again.”
■ NOTES: Solis (1-1) now has 24 strikeouts in 22 innings in three starts this season. ... Wednesday’s crowd was an announced season-best 1,327.