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Collegiate baseball: Rams split with Pioneers

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Facing a three-run deficit in the first inning after dropping the first game of a crucial doubleheader to Elmira, the Watertown Rams could have easily folded their tents on Tuesday night.

Undaunted, starting pitcher Kevin Klaess settled in, second baseman Trevor Marino doubled, singled twice and knocked in two runs and left fielder Bobby Indeglia delivered a defensive throwing gem as the Rams rallied for a 7-3 victory over the Pioneers after losing the opener to Elmira, 4-2 in Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League play at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds. The win puts them back on pace to secure the franchise’s first playoff berth in five seasons.

By salvaging a split in the twin bill, West Division leader Watertown (24-17) essentially held serve against second-place Elmira (20-19) by maintaining its three-game lead.

“This was a big one,” Watertown coach Paul Alteri said. “It’s a big win because they had a chance to gain ground on us and they didn’t.”

The Rams, who broke a two-game slide, moved closer to their goal of clinching a playoff berth as well as winning the division. The Rams have seven games left in the regular season, with five at home.

“After losing that first one, it was big for us to get that split,” said Marino (Virginia Commonwealth), who collected five hits, including his double, in the two games. “Now we want to create a little distance between us and them down the stretch.”

Watertown also guaranteed itself at least a .500 finish for the first time in seven years.

“Just being able to split with them will be a huge advantage for us going down the stretch,” Klaess (Cypress) said.

After yielding two runs in the first inning in the opener, the Rams trailed 3-0 in the first inning of the nightcap as Ryan Plantier belted a three-run home run.

With Elmira starting pitcher Brandon Diorio pulled after two innings, Indeglia (Holy Cross) reached on a leadoff bunt single to lead off the third and, after Joe Moroney doubled, Marino belted a two-run single to right field.

“We gave up those runs in the first, but we have a lot of confidence in our bats,” Marino said.

After the Rams drew even at 3-3 in the fourth on Indeglia’s sacrifice fly, Watertown struck for three runs in the fifth.

“That was good to get that win and stabilize ourselves,” said J.J. Wagner (Pacific), who hit three singles and drove in a run. “It’s always tough getting in a hole like that, but this team just keeps battling — that’s what we do.”

Dominic Lopez hit a leadoff single and, after Collin Theroux walked and scored the go-ahead run on Wagner’s single, Theroux and Wagner later scored on a two-error sequence by shortstop Parker Curry for a 6-3 Watertown lead.

The Rams added a run as Indeglia scored on Lopez’s sacrifice fly.

“We started hitting the ball,” Alteri said. “For some reason, we go into funks where we just don’t hit the ball. ... When we start squaring up on the ball and hitting the ball, it’s contagious.”

After the opening inning, Klaess shut the Pioneers down for the next four innings — and was backed up by a timely defensive play in the fifth. Indeglia nearly made a diving catch in deep left field, but quickly recovered and threw out Spencer Henderson attempting to advance to third base.

Relievers Logan Grant and Matt Hennie each tossed a scoreless inning to preserve the win.

“That play by Bobby was huge,” said Klaess (4-1), who equaled Grant for the team lead in wins. “I think that changed the momentum for us right there.”

In the first game, Henderson scattered eight hits over seven innings to earn the win. The Pioneers scored two unearned runs in the first on a throwing error by Rams pitcher Jake Jenkins and Chris Knott followed with an RBI single.

Elmira added two runs in the sixth. Plantier doubled and Brian Bashara lined a two-run home run to left.

Watertown snapped a 16-inning scoreless slump with two runs in the sixth on RBI singles by Theroux and Wagner.

After tonight’s PGCBL All-Star Game in Newark, the Rams will host Adirondack and Newark on Thursday and Friday, respectively, both 7 p.m. starts.




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