By Connor Stalker, Staff Writer
Watertown, N.Y.– After starting out hot in the season opener, the Blue Sox bats slumped managing only 3 runs on 8 hits after torching the Diamond Dawgs pitching the night before. On the flip side, Blue Sox pitching held the Rapids’ bats to 8 hits, though timely hitting allowed Watertown to nab the win.
Watertown started local product Jonah Shearer, a righthander that spent this past season with SUNY Oswego, on the mound. Utica’s bats jumped on Shearer early as back-to-back singles by Easton Brenner and Norris McClure and an error by the Rapids’ center fielder plated the Blue Sox’s first run of the game. After taking second on the error, McClure swiped third, his first of three steals, setting up a sac fly for extra hitter Will Shannon.
Returning star Alex Canino started the game for the Blue Sox and looked a little rusty out of the gate hitting leadoff Jake Swerdloff with his first pitch of the season. A double in the left-center gap by catcher Quinten Perilli put runners in scoring position with no outs. A combination of walks and past balls allowed the Rapids to tie the game up at 2-2.
In the second and third innings, Shearer made quick work of the Blue Sox batters, allowing only two base runners on a walk and an error. Canino regained his old form working a one-two-three inning in the second, before giving up the lead in the 3rd on a single by 2nd baseman Terrence Moynihan.
Shearer continued to dominate in the 4th and 5th, holding the potent Blue Sox lineup to one hit, while striking out three more. He finished his night with 4 strikeouts and only allowed 1 walk, 3 hits, and 1 earned run.
The Blue Sox bullpen was called early as Daniel Jirgal replaced Canino in the 4th. Jirgal held the Rapids scoreless for an inning before handing the ball off to southpaw Jordan Savinon. Savinon, a freshman out of Felician University, looked the part of a long relief ace, pitching 3 scoreless innings, and giving his lineup ample opportunity to come back. In the 7th inning, the Blue Sox did just that.
To lead off the inning, left fielder Taylor Kaufman ripped a ball up the middle for a single. Rapids’ catcher, Quinten Perilli, tried to unsuccessfully pick off Kaufman and threw the ball into rightfield allowing Kaufman to advance. Ben Partridge took advantage of the miscue and singled home Kaufman to retie the game at 3 apiece.
Kaufman showed off on both sides of the ball in the 7th inning. The Rapids began the bottom of the 7th with a single by Gaetan Grandelli. The next batter skied a high fly to right field that Kaufman handled easily, before showing off his arm and doubling up Grandelli. The next batter walked before the Rpaids’ designated hitter blooped a single to Kaufman. Rather than respecting Kaufman’s arm after the fantastic play earlier in the inning, the Rapids’ baserunner decided to head to third, in which Kaufman threw a dart to the third baseman to get the runner out.
In the bottom of the 8th, the Blue Sox turned to Ryan Dieguez to hold Watertown’s offense. A single and a walk put a runner in scoring position for the Rapids before a tag up and stolen base put runners on second and third. Cleanup batter Owen Parliament worked a 3-2 count before grounding a ball directly down the first base line that hit the bag and gave the lead back to Rapids, 5-3.
The Blue Sox worked a two-out, bases-loaded jam against hard-throwing righty Ryan Peters, though Peters fought back striking out Wyatt Jensen to end the game.
Utica falls to 1-1 in the early season. Ryan Peters earned the win, while Ryan Dieguez was handed the loss. Ben Partridge and Norris McClure each recorded multi-hit games. McClure also showed off his impressive speed stealing 3 bases on the night.
The Blue Sox return to action in their home opener this Saturday, June, 3rd taking on the Oneonta Outlaws for their first meeting of the young season.