Joe Landi sure picked an opportune moment to hit his first collegiate home run.
Landi slugged a three-run home run in the ninth inning to lift the Newark Bears past the Watertown Wizards, 8-6 on Sunday in Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League play at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.
Its a big win, Landi said. Were kind of on a hot streak with our offense and our pitchings been great. Weve been coming up with clutch hits and everybody seems to be putting the ball in play in the right spots.
The blast was Landis first at this level as he went homerless in his first two seasons with the University of Rhode Island.
That was my first collegiate home run, so it felt great, said Landi, primarily a third baseman who played some outfield with the Rams this spring.
By squandering the victory, the Wizards (16-24) have been pushed closer to elimination from the playoff race as they trail fourth-place Newark (22-19) by 5 1/2 games with seven games remaining in their regular season.
We needed that one and it was a tough loss, right fielder Cole Gleason said. We definitely needed to pick up one or two wins on this homestand and we didnt get it done.
For the second consecutive game, Watertown got the potential tying run on as after Chris Glynn singled and Edgardo Salas walked with two out. Both runners advanced on a double steal, but Brandon Roush flied out to right field to end the threat.
We let them jump out to an early lead, but we kept battling back and scoring runs, Gleason said. To lose the game like we did is tough.
The game included a bizarre ending as Newark coach Chris Ebright suffered a leg injury while patrolling the third base coaching box in the top of the ninth and was taken to the hospital by ambulance.
Along with their late rally, the Bears also started the game strong by scoring four runs in the top of the first on an RBI sacrifice fly from Austin Logan and Chris Doyles three-run double to the left-center field gap.
Watertown responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning on RBI singles from Gleason and Chris Glynn, and then took a 5-4 lead in the second as Gleason crushed a first-pitch offering over the left field wall for a three-run home run.
The Wizards led 6-4 in the sixth inning on former Immaculate Heart Central standout Dustin Exfords run-scoring triple to center field, but the Bears drew within a run on Logans RBI double. Logan would also double in the ninth to help spark Newarks rally.
That was a rough start, but we battled back well, Watertown manager Nathan Kafka said. Just like (Saturday) we had a chance to win it at the end and thats all you can ask for.
Austin McAuliffe (3-2) pitched two scoreless innings to earn the win for Newark, which occupies the leagues final playoff spot, 1 1/2 games ahead of Oneonta. Kyle McNutt (0-1), who surrendered the home run, was tagged with the loss.
Every game counts right now and were just focusing on the game at hand and trying to get it done, Landi said. Were not even thinking playoffs, just on each game.
After playing at Elmira at 7 tonight, four of the Wizards six remaining games will be at home, including Thursday night against Cooperstown at 7.
As long as each guy tries to improve and take it one game at a time and one bat at a time, said Kafka, and take the right approach so they can get better. Because theyre going to start up their fall season not too long from now and their coach needs to be impressed with how theyve improved throughout the summer.
nNOTES: Six players will represent Watertown at Tuesdays PGCBL All-Star Game in Amsterdam Brandon Cipolla, Jordan Enos and Donald Walter; and pitchers Bryan Chudy, Kole Mickolio and Jonathan Perez. ... Newarks Brent Langston, also an All-Star, leads the league in RBI (40) and is two shy of the league-record of 42, set by Watertowns Erick Gaylord in 2011.