After being away from the collegiate coaching ranks in summer baseball for a decade, Paul Alteri has been waiting for this moment for quite some time.
In the Watertown Rams home opener, Alteris players responded by earning their first victory of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League season.
Starter Kevin Klaess pitched five shutout innings and Nik Alfonso and Bobby Indeglia combined to drive in five runs on a pair of doubles in the third inning as the Rams defeated the Utica Brewers, 6-1 on Sunday evening before a turnout of 858 at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.
This is my first win in 10 years at this level, said Alteri, who coached the Watertown Wizards from 2001-03 in the New York Collegiate Baseball League. Thats how good it feels.
It was also a much-needed win for the Rams, who had lost the first two games of their campaign, including a 4-0 loss at Mohawk Valley on Saturday.
This was an important for us in our home opener, Indeglia said. Especially because it was a good win its definitely a confidence and morale booster.
Watertown (1-2) broke through early on by batting around in the third inning and scoring six runs to seize command.
The difference today is we had a lot of timely hits, Alfonzo said. So now we can start scoring some runs.
After Dominic Lopez, Jacob Boylan and Austin Lueck each walked to load the bases to open the inning, one out later Alfonso, from South Florida, belted a three-run double to the center-left field gap.
After Bryce Greager walked, Alfonso scored from second base when Trevor Marino reached on an infield error for a 4-0 Rams advantage.
One out later, Indeglia (Holy Cross) doubled to left field to drive in two more runs to boost Watertowns lead to 6-0.
After two exhibition losses, and a couple tough losses to start the season, this is pretty big for us, Indeglia said. Last night, our bats were real quiet, so it was good to get our bats going tonight and see our offense come alive.
Said Alteri: We havent been backing our pitchers up offensively. We havent done well with runners in scoring position but tonight we did.
Klaess, who just completed his sophomore season at Cypress College in California, allowed only two hits in five innings and struck out four to earn the win. He also walked four batters, but worked out of a pair of jams, including leaving the bases loaded in the top of the third inning.
He did a great job, Utica coach Keith Strickland said of Klaess. We had some chances, we had the bases loaded with two outs, but he worked his way out of if. He had a good command of the strike zone.
Weve had good starting pitching for three games in a row now, Alteri said. The guys have been throwing well.
The Rams received four innings from a pair of relievers the rest of the way as Matt Hennie and Joshua Amann each tossed two innings to close out the game.
I could tell he was getting a little bit tired, but he gave us another inning in the fifth, Alteri said. It was a really good outing for Kevin and then our bullpen took over.
Watertowns pitchers were also aided by a pair of double plays, with one being turned in the second inning and the second producing the games final outs.
He (Klaess) worked out of a couple jams, Alteri said. We stress for our pitchers to give us ground balls and they did.
Third baseman and South Jefferson graduate Tyler Decker singled twice for Watertown, and catcher Collin Theroux doubled.
This win is huge for the guys, Alteri said. Theyve been pressing the last couple games and they want to win and they got it done tonight.
Utica (0-3) is in its first season in the PGCBL, after making the move from the New York Collegiate Baseball League.
The Brewers generated their lone run in the sixth inning as Michael McClellan led off with a single to center field and two outs later scored on a single to left field by Matt Hendricks.
Starter Hunter McIntosh yielded all six runs in two innings of work in taking the loss for the Brewers.
There will be quick turnaround for both teams as theyll meet again at 11 this morning at Murnane Field in Utica.
Its just three games, Strickland said. But we have to find a way to score some runs. But the beauty of baseball is well be right back out there playing these guys again tomorrow.