By Connor Stalker, Blue Sox Staff Writer
Utica, N.Y.– The rain made for quite the opponent in the early going of tonight’s game as the forecast called for a flurry of storms to hit right around game time. The rain held off at the beginning of the game and the first pitch was officially recorded at 6:36 PM.
The game got off to a normal start. Watertown called on Jared Duquette to start on the mound. As usual, the Blue Sox jumped on starting pitching early, scoring a run in the first on a ground out by Norris McClure.
On the defensive end, the Blue Sox started southpaw Cole Syversen. Thus far, Syversen has maintained a 2.00 ERA, while striking out 9 in 9 innings of work. Syversen quickly got the inning’s first batter to fly out to center field. The next batter, David McCann, swung at the first pitch and barreled a fly ball to left field that sailed over the fence tying the game at one apiece.
Duquette and Syversen would both work scoreless 2nd innings before letting in a run each in the 3rd. With 1 out Ben Partridge lined a single to center field, increasing his hit streak to 7 games. During the next at-bat, Partridge stole 2nd, putting himself into scoring position. Taylor Kaufman struck out bringing clutch bat Norris McClure to the plate with 2 outs. On an 0-1 pitch from Duquette, McClure smoked a ball on the ground up the middle that the 2nd baseman knocked down. The 2nd baseman made a play at it, but could not get the speedy McClure who earned an infield single. McClure then swiped 2nd before a wild pitch scored Partridge and allowed McClure to take 3rd.
In the bottom of the 3rd, right fielder Mike Norton turned on a 2-2 pitch from Syversen that just barely left the yard, bouncing off the top of the fence and tying the game at 2.
The Blue Sox broke the game open spotting 5 runs off Duquette in the 4th inning. Josh Skowronski led off the inning with a single. Ryan Rifenberg ripped a double in the right-center gap to move him and Skowronski into scoring position. A walk to Easton Brenner brought RBI machine, Pablo Santos, to the plate. Santos sent Duquette’s 1-1 pitch up the middle for a base knock scoring 2 and giving the Blue Sox the lead, a lead they would not relinquish for the rest of the game. When asked about the swing, Santos noted “I put everything I got into it.”
The rally continued with 2 outs as Ben Partridge sent a ball over the left field fence for his 2nd home run of the season, as he continues to torch opposing pitching.
In the bottom of the 5th, the Blue Sox ran into trouble, this time in the form of a lightning delay. After waiting 30 minutes play resumed, and the Blue Sox turned to relief arm Kris Giangreco to hold the lead.
Giangreco started off wild and a few walks put men on base for the Rapids. Nick Locurto took advantage of the opportunity and hit a single scoring 1 run, before an error allowed a 2nd run to score making the score 7-4.
By this point, the rain had begun to fall steadily, though not enough to stop play. After struggling a little in his first inning, Giangreco found his usual stuff and held the Rapids scoreless in the 6th and 7th. The Rapids relievers faired similarly, as Maverick King worked 2 scoreless innings despite a gaudy 13.50 ERA, and lefty Kaelan Clarkson worked a scoreless 7th.
After concluding the 7th, the umpires decided to officially end the game because of unsafe conditions caused by the rain. Cole Syversen earned his first win of the summer, finishing with a strong stat line of 4 IP, 2 hits, 2 runs, and 4 K’s. Kris Giangreco also looked the part of a top-notch reliever, going 3 innings while allowing only 1 earned run, and striking out 3.
Offensively, the Blue Sox played well with Ben Partridge and Norris McClure leading the charge with 2 hits each. Partridge also contributed a stolen base, his 6th of the season, and a home run, while McClure swiped 2 bases, his 7th and 8th of the season. 9 of the 10 batters in the Blue Sox lineup finished with a hit, an impressive performance across the board.
For the Rapids, Duquette earned the loss, while Mike Norton finished with 2 hits, 1 hit being a home run. David McCann also contributed a solo shot in the losing effort.
The Blue Sox improved to 8-8, back up to a .500 record for the first time in roughly a week.
For fans looking to catch the Blue Sox back in action, they have a home game tomorrow, June 27th, versus Watertown at 6:45 PM.