WATERTOWN — In yet another showdown for first place in the Central Division between Watertown and Mohawk Valley, the Rapids once again squandered a chance to snap out of their recent struggles.
After Watertown lost to Mohawk Valley, 7-6, in 11 innings in the first game, the DiamondDawgs won the nightcap by the same score to complete a sweep of a Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League doubleheader on Friday before a crowd of 255 at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.
With both setbacks, the Rapids (15-13) have lost a season-high five consecutive games — all at home — and lost valuable ground in the division standings to the first-place DiamondDawgs (17-10).
“Those were two heartbreakers, that’s for sure,” Watertown manager David Anderson said of the pair of losses.
Playing in their second doubleheader in four days, the Rapids rallied from an early two-run deficit to tie the game at 4-4 in the fifth inning, only to watch the lead evaporate in the next inning.
The DiamondDawgs struck for three runs in the top of the sixth to take the lead for good as Joel Alvarez hit a two-run single to right field and tacked on another run as an RBI groundout from J.D. Davis for a 7-4 advantage.
Watertown responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning to pull within 7-6 as Michael Russell hit a two-run single down the left-field line.
Julian Kurych doubled to lead off the bottom of the ninth and William Heurtin walked two outs later, but pinch hitter Nick Bosma struck out to end the game.
“We had chances in both,” Anderson said. “We put ourselves in position to win both games and we just didn’t come through in the right moments. Those are just two tough games right there.”
Reliever Marc Bisogno struck out the side in the ninth for Mohawk Valley, which now leads Watertown by 2 1/2 games in the Central Division.
“I think right now, we’re just hitting a rough stretch,” Bozoian said. “I think it’s important that we don’t get frustrated and make sure we keep our heads up.”
“Those were two big games, but we’re still within striking distance,” Anderson said. “So there’s going to be time to catch back up with them.”
The Rapids, who were also swept in a doubleheader at home by Adirondack on Tuesday, have also lost seven of their past eight games.
“We’re right there, I think four of our last six losses have been by one run,” Anderson said. “With most of them coming in the last inning or extra innings. So, we’re really right there and it’s about taking advantage of the opportunities that we create. So, we’ll be all right.”
Earlier in the second game, Mohawk Valley seized a 2-0 lead in the first inning on an infield single by Mark McKenna and Drew Fureno scored as he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
After the DiamondDawgs pushed their advantage to 3-0 as Joseph Castellanos singled and scored on a wild pitch in the fourth, the Rapids responded with two runs of their own as Joshua Bozoian hit an RBI bloop infield single and Heurtin drove in a run when he reached on a fielder’s choice.
Mohawk Valley led 4-2 in the fifth inning as Fureno singled and scored on a wild pitch.
In Friday’s opener, the Rapids blew a lead in the late innings for the second straight game.
Trailing 5-2, the DiamondDawgs scored one run in the sixth inning and two more in the seventh to tie the game.
The comeback spoiled a strong start by Watertown’s Tony Rivera, who pitched into the seventh inning, but then allowed two runs in ninth to relinquish the lead.
In the sixth, Mark McKenna reached on a fielder’s choice and scored for Mohawk Valley on an infield error to draw his team within 5-3.
In the top of the seventh, Castellanos walked and Ryan Hernandez doubled in the top of the seventh and scored on an RBI flyout by Ryan Toohers and an RBI single from Joel Alvarez, respectively, to tie the game at 5-5 for the DiamondDawgs.
Mohawk Valley loaded the bases in the 11th and Alvarez delivered a two-run single to center field past diving second baseman William Heurtin to lead 7-5.
Watertown pulled within a run in the bottom of the inning as Bosma doubled off the center field wall and scored on Heurtin’s single to right.
But with two Rapids on base, DiamondDawgs reliever Alexis Calderon struck out the next two batters to preserve the win.
Watertown, which stranded the two runners, also left the bases loaded in the sixth, seventh and 10th innings.
“I definitely think if we keep battling through all these games and just keep putting up a fight, we’ll have a good chance the rest of the season,” Bozoian said.
The Rapids built a 4-1 lead in the first inning on an RBI double from Bailey Lewis and Bozoian followed with a three-run home run to right.
After Mohawk Valley scored a run in the fourth inning on Stephen Furman’s RBI single, Watertown led 5-2 in the fifth as Nolan Wilson singled and scored on an infield single by Lewis.
The Rapids and DiamondDawgs will meet again at 6:45 tonight at Mohawk Valley.