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The Cajun connection of Gavin Culpepper and Landon Thibodeaux proved to be too much for the Watertown Rams on Sunday.

Culpepper pitched seven innings of two-hit ball and Thibodeaux homered, doubled and knocked in five runs to pace the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs to a 10-5 victory over the suddenly struggling Rams in a Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League game at Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.

“I feel good,” said Culpepper, who is a Louisiana native, as is Thibodeaux. “I was able to throw strikes and get ahead of the batters early in the count. This is the most I’ve thrown in a game in a while.”

The 6-foot-8 Culpepper struck out 10 and issued only one walk in an 86-pitch performance in his longest outing of the year for Mohawk Valley (8-8), including his sophomore season at Southeastern Louisiana.

“He dominated us — it’s that simple,” Watertown coach Paul Alteri said of Culpepper. “He controlled the game and he had (10) strikeouts. He had us under control until we got to their pen.”

“Gavin was great,” Mohawk Valley coach Nick Cacciola said. “All night, he pitched ahead and put batters away. He mixed his pitches well and it was a great effort.”

Watertown (5-9) managed only one run against Culpepper. The Rams did put seven runners on base, but only two reached scoring position.

“I feel like if we can just turn the bats on earlier, get more runs and compete a little bit better, we can be a better team,” Rams third baseman J.J. Wagner said. “We got down early and we were kind of dormant with our bats, which put us in a hole.”

Despite getting plenty of run support during much of the past week, Rams pitchers have struggled of late, allowing double-digit run totals in three of their past five games and yielding 53 runs over their last seven games.

“The last couple games have been tough to swallow,” said Alteri, whose team has lost three consecutive games. “Getting down by that many (runs) took a lot of wind out of our sails. ... “We’re not hitting the ball and then you tack on another poor performance from our starting pitching — those two things don’t add up to anything very good.”

While the Rams were shut down for much of the game by Culpepper, the Diamond Dawgs jumped on Watertown starter Kevin Klaess early.

After Dalton Herrington and Willie Shaw reached base on a pair of two-out walks, Thibodeaux (LSU-Eunice) poked a three-run home run over the left field fence for a 3-0 Mohawk Valley lead.

Watertown generated a run in the second inning on sacrifice fly to center field by Wagner, but the DiamondDawgs answered with Casey Rodrigue’s run-scoring single in the third inning.

Mohawk Valley struck for three more runs in the fourth inning to lead 7-1 — highlighted by Thibodeaux’s two-run double to left field.

“It was awesome,” Culpepper said of his run support. “We’ve been in a little bit of a slump, but we swung the bats well today.”

After the DiamondDawgs tacked on a single run in each of the fifth through seventh innings to lead 7-1, the Rams scored three runs in the eighth as Joe Maroney doubled and scored on a wild pitch and Wagner drove in two runs with a single.

Cameron Allen of Sackets Harbor delivered a pinch-hit, run-scoring single in the ninth inning for Watertown to record his first hit in the PGCBL.

Craig Lepre doubled, singled twice and drove in a run for Mohawk Valley, and Trey Hunt hit a solo home run.

“This is a big win for us, it puts us back at .500 going into our first off day of the season,” Cacciola said.

After a day off today, the Rams play at Amsterdam at 7:05 p.m. on Tuesday and return to host Glens Falls at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

“We need to get a streak going,” Wagner said. “When we have it, we have it — but we need to figure out how to be more consistent every day.”

nNOTES: Pitcher Chase Hessler, who arrived in town on Saturday, made his season debut with Watertown and tossed a scoreless ninth inning. ... Allen, who joined the then Watertown Wizards in the final week of the 2012 regular season, has now made six appearances this year for the Rams, including two starts in the outfield.


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