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Collegiate baseball: Rams rebound in Game 2 with pitching gem after opening-game drubbing

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WATERTOWN — After Watertown was dealt a drubbing in the first game of a doubleheader against first-place Newark, Rams pitchers Corbin Powers and Jon Escobar provided their team with a much-needed lift.

Powers and Escobar combined on a four-hit shutout, and Matt Diorio, who hit for the cycle the day before, scored the deciding run as Watertown edged Newark, 1-0 on Monday night to salvage a split of a Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League twinbill at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.

The Rams blanked the Pilots after Newark won the first game in a rout, churning out 17 hits en route to an 18-7 victory.

“I felt amazing going out there,” said Powers, a left-hander out of Bellevue University in Washington state. “Right from the first pitch, I knew it was going to be a great game because I had control for each pitch, it was nice to be able to use my changeup a lot.”

Powers prevailed in a pitching duel with Jayson Yano, who one-hit Watertown (9-8) in six innings and struck out nine while walking none.

“I wasn’t overly impressed with their pitcher’s stuff, but he certainly made us look bad,” Newark coach Mike Armstrong said. “He did a good job keeping the ball low and changing speeds on us.”

Newark (11-7) managed just four singles off Powers, who struck out six and walked four in five innings to record his first win of the summer collegiate season.

“After seeing them (the Pilots) hitting really well, I kind of had my own game plan of just throwing a lot of offspeed pitches,” Powers said. “And (Sunday’s winning pitcher) Zander Clouse gave me a heads up about doing this.”

After Powers left in the sixth inning after yielding a walk and a single, Escobar (Holy Cross) came in and retired the next two batters, including fanning Zach Wall to end the threat.

“He really picked me up on that, because I was getting a little inconsistent,” Powers said of Escobar. “With him coming out throwing strikes and throwing as hard as he does, that really made it much easier for us to play defense.”

Escobar then struck out the side in the seventh inning to finish off the Pilots and record his second save of the season.

“We have confidence in him,” Watertown coach Paul Alteri said of Escobar. “When Jonny or Jake (Sale) get the call, they’re pretty confident and they’ve been fantastic right now. There’s nothing like the hammer at the end.”

The Rams made efficient use of their lone hit against Yano in the fourth inning. Diorio, who hit for the cycle in Watertown’s win at Newark on Sunday, delivered a leadoff double to the left field corner.

After he reached third base on a sacrifice bunt by Dominic Lopez, Diorio of Central Florida scored the game’s lone run as a ground ball by Joe Ogren that went right through the legs of shortstop Tanner Giesel. The run came after Diorio went 5-for-5 en route to the cycle Sunday.

“It’s something that you dream about a kid and it’s hard to do,” Diorio said of his cycle. “And it was nice to be able to contribute as well. We just go out there and try and score runs any way we can.”

The Rams won two of three games against Newark over the past two days and have won four of their past five to remain within a game and a half behind the West Division leading Bears.

“It was huge,” Alteri said of his team’s win. “Not only did he (Powers) pitch well and I’m glad he got the win, but it was huge for him to do well because of how bad it was for us in the first game.”

In Monday’s first game, Zach Wall went 3-for-3, including a two-run home run and a triple, and drove in four runs to pace Newark.

After Luis Silverio hit a two-run shot over the left field wall, Wall followed with his blast, also to left to stake the Pilots to a 4-0 lead.

Later trailing 6-0, the Rams broke through by scoring four runs in the fifth, keyed by a two-run double from Lopez.

But Newark responded with three more runs in the sixth, with one of them unearned, and poured it on in the seventh by plating nine runs on seven hits.

Pinch hitter Joe DeLuca belted a three-run home run to left field in the bottom of the inning for Watertown.

NOTES: On Sunday, Diorio generated just the second cycle in PGCBL history in Watertown’s 10-8 victory over Newark as he went 5-for-5, securing the feat with a two-run double in the sixth inning. ... Silverio was ejected in the fifth inning after he shoved Watertown catcher Jason Scholl after he was tagged out by third baseman Nick Moore in a rundown between third and home. ... The Rams, who are off today, will host Elmira at 7 p.m. on Wednesday and will play at Newark at 7:05 p.m. on Thursday.

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