By Connor Stalker, Utica Blue Sox Staff Writer
Utica, N.Y.– The fireworks were present both on and off the field this July 4th at Donovan Stadium at Murnane Field. It was a back-and-forth affair between Utica and Watertown that ended dramatically on a 2-run shot in the bottom of the 10th by Will Shannon that walked it off.
It was apparent throughout the game that the fans were in for a treat. Fireworks lit up the sky for most of the game, and the product on the field was exciting.
Holden de Jong got the start on the mound for the Blue Sox and looked solid if not a little wild, pitching 4 innings and giving up 2 hits, 1 run, and 5 walks while striking out 6.
For Watertown, Ryan Peters got the start, his 2nd start of the summer against the Blue Sox. Peters struggled giving 5 earned runs in 4.1 IP.
The Blue Sox got the scoring started on a 1st and 3rd play in the 3rd inning. Taylor Kaufman stole second, and when the catcher attempted to throw him out, Peter Adams took off for home scoring the 1st run. Will Shannon then proceeded to knock Kaufman home on a base hit to right field.
Gaetan Grandelli chipped away at the Blue Sox’s lead, hitting a sac fly in the top of the 4th that plated David McCann.
De Jong was removed in the top of the 5th, and the Blue Sox called on Greg Levin to hold the lead. Levin struggled allowing 2 run singles to both Nick Mazzotta and Grandelli giving the Rapids the lead, 5-2.
The Blue Sox battled back in the bottom of the inning with walks to Peter Adams and Taylor Kaufman as well as a single by Norris McClure that loaded the bases. Will Shannon hit a bounding ball to the shortstop that was booted allowing a run to score.
In response, Watertown’s manager called on Derrike Goutremout to try and stop the Blue Sox rally. Goutremout walked the first batter he faced, allowing another run to score, before giving up a line drive single to Easton Brenner, enabling the Blue Sox to regain the lead. The scoring did not stop there as C.J. Wisniewski skied a ball to left field that allowed Josh Skowronski to tag up and score, making the score 7-5.
The back and forth continued in the top of the 6th as Nick Locurto singled home a run off Daniel Jirgal to bring Watertown to within 1.
The Rapids again threatened in the top of the 8th. With 1 out, Terrence Moynihan roped a ball to left field. Moynihan made the mistake of trying to 2, and Wyatt Jensen cut him down easily, with a dart to 2nd base.
In the top of the 9th, Watertown struck for 3 runs all on one crazy play that really highlighted the “fireworks” of the evening. With men on 1st and 3rd, Quinten Perilli smacked a pitch from Kris Giangreco to right field. The man on 3rd scored easily. The man on 1st attempted to reach 3rd. Easton Brenner’s throw was errant allowing the man to reach 3rd. He then proceeded to test Norris McClure’s arm and head home. McClure spiked one in the dirt that allowed the runner to score, while also giving Perilli a chance at the plate. The catcher got to the ball and tossed it to a sprinting Kris Giangreco, however, the tag was not in time and the Rapids took a 9-7 lead. Some words said at home plate riling both benches. The benches hurled insults at one another and the umpires, and by the time the dust settled, McClure and Coach Doug Delett were tossed from the game.
At this point, winning seemed bleak, yet the Blue Sox bats did not falter. With runners on 2nd and 3rd, Taylor Kaufman hit a line shot that the pitcher knocked down. The pitcher overthrew the 1st basemen allowing the Blue Sox to tie the game.
Into extra innings, Kris Giangreco remained on the mound. Another bout of craziness ensued in which Giangreco tried to pick the “ghost runner” off at 2nd and sailed the ball into center field. The runner tried testing Easton Brenner’s arm, another mistake by the Rapids’ baserunners. Brenner easily threw out the runner giving the Blue Sox 1 out. Unfortunately, a single later in the inning would give the Rapids the lead back 10-9.
Down to their final at-bats, the Blue Sox were desperate for some more on-field fireworks. Will Shannon was exactly the man for the job. On a 2-1 pitch, Shannon hit a towering blast to deep left field that easily cleared the fence, capping off the night with a walk-off. Murnane exploded as the Blue Sox players poured onto the field around home plate. With the 11-10 win the Blue Sox are riding high, improving their record to 10-10.
Kris Giangreco got the win on the mound by going 3 solid innings, striking out 2. Reliever Kaelen Clarkson was handed the loss giving up 4 runs (only 1 earned) in 3 innings of work.
Will Shannon was the player of the game compiling 4 RBIs, and 2 runs, capping it off with the thrilling 2-run home run. Taylor Kaufman and Easton Brenner also had solid games at the dish with Kaufman finishing with 2 hits, while Brenner plated 2 runs.
For the Rapids, Grandelli led the offense with 2 hits and 3 RBI. Perilli and McCann also contributed walking 4 and 3 times respectively, while also getting a hit apiece. Finally, Moynihan and Locurto added 2 hits each, while Moynihan also walked 3 times.
The Blue Sox look to build upon the momentum at home this Thursday against the juggernaut Amsterdam Mohawks, who are 24-1 and are riding a record-breaking 15-game win streak that just recently surpassed the previous mark of 14 which was held by the Blue Sox.