Watertown Rams coach Paul Alteri didnt hold back when asked about his teams effort on Friday night.
After the Rams led for much of the game, Samm Wiggins slugged a go-ahead two-run home run in the eighth inning as the Newark Pilots rallied for a 3-2 Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League victory at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.
It hurts, it hurts a lot, Alteri said. Thats one of the toughest losses weve had this season.
A night after Watertown clinched the franchises first playoff berth in five years, Alteri wasnt pleased at all about his charges all-around performance.
Were not ready for the playoffs, Alteri said. Were not ready after a night like tonight.
The West Division-leading Rams (25-18) lost their second consecutive game to Newark (18-24), which strengthened its hold on third place and the final playoff berth in the division.
Its the same story as last time, Newark coach Mike Armstrong said. We need as many wins as we can get here at the end of the year as were trying to stay in third place. Weve lost a lot of one-run games this year, which means weve been playing good baseball, but we just havent gotten the one big hit or the break weve needed.
So to get a comeback win like this is big for this team.
Watertown, in its quest to win its first divisional title since 2006, also lost a game in the standings as its lead over second-place Elmira was cut to three with five games left in the Rams regular season.
But more importantly to Alteri, it was the way Watertown squandered both the lead and a potential win in the late innings.
We let them hang around and I warned our guys, Alteri said. I warned them not to let that team hang around. We didnt execute again, we didnt run the bases well, we didnt come off the bench and do what were supposed to do in clutch situations.
The Rams took a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning as Bobby Indeglia singled, went to second base on a wild pitch, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Joe Moroney and scored on Dominic Lopezs flyout to center field.
After Max Rosing singled to right field to begin the Pilots rally in the eighth, Wiggins (Houston Baptist) connected on an 0-2 fastball from reliever Logan Grant to provide Newark with its 3-2 advantage.
Theres no excuse for it, Alteri said. Its an 0-2 pitch and the kid hits it out. I understand thats baseball, but with an 0-2 pitch, that pitchers supposed to be in control.
Watertown failed to score in the final four innings by stranding five runners (nine overall), as well as having one runner picked off between first and second base in the eighth inning.
Watertown is in first place for a reason, said Armstrong, whose team turned two double plays, including one in the ninth to end the game. They kept battling until the end, but fortunately we came up with some big defensive plays.
It is a tough loss, said Moroney, who singled three times and scored a run. I think as a team we consider Newark our closest rival because we always seem to have close games with them. I thought our pitchers did a pretty good job of shutting down their offense, but we didnt execute as well as we should have on the offensive side.
Andrew Sanders (Ithaca) pitched seven innings, allowing two runs and scattered seven hits to earn the win for the Pilots. Justin DAmato (St. John Fisher) tossed a scoreless eighth and Donald Frew (Young Harris) recorded the save.
Newark led 1-0 in the first inning as Jeff Edwards singled to center field, stole second base, went to third as Steve Laurino walked to load the bases and scored on a wild pitch by Watertown starter Anthony Magovney.
The Rams drew even at 1-1 in the bottom of the inning as Moroney singled to left field and reached third base on a two-base error, and scored as Lopez reached on an RBI fielders choice.
The Rams magic number to secure the West Division crown remains at four, which is any combination of Watertown wins and Elmira losses.
I dont know how this team is going to respond after tonight, I really dont, Alteri said. Im concerned right now.
Weve got to do a better job at the plate, Moroney added. I think in our losses weve left some runners on base, so weve got to find a way to bounce back from this.
Watertown plays at Utica at 7 tonight and is idle on Sunday before playing at Adirondack at 7 p.m. on Monday.