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Collegiate baseball: Pioneers spoil Rams’ home opener, 13-3

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WATERTOWN — Paul Alteri isn’t accepting any excuses for his Watertown Rams team after its second loss in as many days to open its collegiate summer season.

After being edged by a run in their season opener, the Rams were thoroughly beaten by Elmira, 13-3, on a damp and misty Thursday night at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds in Watertown’s home opener in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League.

“We’re trying to be positive, but the honeymoon is short in this league and then it’s over,” said Alteri, who is in his second season as Watertown coach. “It’s over right now for us — now we have to get to work and there’s no more excuses. We have to snap out of it now.”

The Rams managed only six hits, including only one over the first five innings.

“In our first game in front of your home crowd, you want to show them what you can do,” said Rams first baseman Dominic Lopez, who is back for a second season with the team.

“It didn’t turn out that way, but hopefully we can bounce back tomorrow and put on a good show.”

Last season, Watertown won the league’s West Division crown and then was swept by Elmira in two games in the opening round of the playoffs.

“It was one of those nights, it was just like that night here when we won that 14-inning game in the rain,” Elmira coach Matt Burch said. “We seem to like playing here.”

In this meeting, after Watertown pushed across the game’s first run in the opening inning, Elmira struck for 12 runs over the next five innings to take command.

“I’m still waiting for our bats to wake up a little bit, but it’s the second game of the season,” said Alteri, whose team was beaten by Adirondack, 6-5 Wednesday in its season opener.

I’m more concerned about our defensive play — not so much our physical errors, but our mental errors,” Alteri added. “And there’s no excuses for it — these guys are young men.”

The Rams were held without a hit for the first four innings until Robbie Alessandrine’s RBI single in the fifth.

“I still saw a lot of positives there,” Alteri said. “But with our hitting, you’re not going to win a whiffle ball game on the five or six hits that we had.”

Elmira was opportunistic in scoring three runs in the second inning to take the lead for good.

With two out and two runners on, Chris Kalousidian struck out, but reached first base on a dropped third strike to load the bases.

John Armbrust scored on a passed ball to tie the game at 1-1, and two runners then came home on an infield throwing error and the Pioneers led 3-1.

“That’s all it takes,” Alteri said. “Right now, other teams are doing that to us and we’re not getting those breaks — but that’s one us — we have nobody to blame but ourselves.”

After the Pioneers led 5-1 in the fourth inning on TJ Dixon’s two-run double down the left- field line and Watertown answered with a single run in the fifth.

Elmira broke the game open with a seven-run sixth inning by batting around — keyed by a two-run double from Christian Santiseban and Drew Fisher’s two-run single to lead 12-2.

The Pioneers tacked on a run in the ninth as Pete Carrier walked and scored on a wild pitch, and Watertown’s Charles Leblanc followed with an RBI single in the bottom of the inning.

“I feel like we have a ton of talent, I think maybe even more than last year,” said Lopez, who drove in a run with a groundout in the first inning and later doubled. “I think we need a couple games to kind of get our feet set.”

Pioneers starting Roberto Suppa allowed one run in four innings despite walking five batters and reliever Zach Pidgeon earned the win with one inning of work.

Watertown starter Mitch Sewald, who pitched for LSU briefly two years ago, was tagged with the loss, yielding five runs (two earned) in five innings. He struck out six and walked two.

“I liked the way Mitch pitched,” Alteri said. “It’s been a year and half since he threw in a live game and I thought he threw really well. I was hoping to get five innings out of him, and he fought through that one bad inning with no fault of his own.

“Kyle Simmons pitched well and Jon (Escobar) is going to be tough as a closer.”

Right-hander Dalton D’Spain, a teammate of Lopez at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, will start tonight’s game against Adirondack.

The Rams will host the Trail Blazers at 8 p.m., with a fireworks display to follow.

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