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Lopez delivers in Rams win

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Dominic Lopez’s family traveled from Texas to watch their son play baseball on Wednesday night.

And Lopez made sure their trip was worthwhile.

The Rams’ designated hitter went 2-for-4 and provided a pivotal three-run double to lead Watertown to a 5-2 victory over the Utica Brewers at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.

The Rams improved to 21-15 and maintained a three-game lead over Elmira in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League’s West Division.

Various members of Lopez’s family arrived from San Antonio and Corpus Christi earlier in the day.

“I wanted to do good in front of them, so it was good for me and good for them. I haven’t seen them in a while so it was pretty cool,” Lopez said.

Lopez, who will be a sophomore at Division I Texas A&M next spring, said that his family lives right down the road from the university, so they are regulars at all of his college home games.

Wednesday night was their first chance to see him in action this summer.

“It was just like when I was a little kid, I just wanted to do good in front of them,” Lopez said. “For them to see me playing at this level, it means a lot to me.”

Lopez had been batting for just a .217 average coming into the game, and went 0-for-7 in an extra-inning victory on Tuesday night.

But on Wednesday, he knocked a triple to the gap in left-center field in the first inning, then came through with a bases-clearing double with two outs in the fourth that gave the Rams a 4-0 lead.

“I’m happy as hell for him,” Watertown manager Paul Alteri said. “It’s kind of funny how he came up in some clutch situations, and you’re hoping that the kid has a good night in front of his family, and he comes up and he delivers.”

Utica, which fell to 11-19, brought one of its most productive hitters to the plate to represent the game-tying run with one out in the ninth inning.

But Jay Gonzalez, who is second on the team in batting average (.367) and runs batted in (19), grounded out and the next batter popped up to end the game. “You’re looking for that guy to shoot a gap and clear the bases, and it just didn’t happen,” Utica manager Keith Strickland said.

The Rams became the first team in the PGCBL to reach 21 wins and are 16-5 in their last 21 games. They are a league-best 11-3 on their home field.

They also snapped a four-game losing streak to the Brewers.

Despite holding a seven-game lead over last-place Utica, the Rams were just 1-4 against them entering Wednesday’s game.

“Tonight’s win was a little special. They’ve taken it to us at their place, and we got a little bit of revenge tonight at our place so it was a nice win,” Alteri said.

“The guys already knew about it. We didn’t even have to mention it,” he added. “We’re on a roll right now, we’re not really looking for any motivation. We’ve got our own going for us.”

Joe Moroney and J.J. Wagner each drove in a run and Dale Irving went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles for the Rams.

Kevin Klaess allowed three hits and struck out three in five scoreless innings to pick up the win.

Watertown will next play on Friday at Amsterdam. They will host Cooperstown at 7 p.m. Saturday and Newark at 5 p.m. on Sunday at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.

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