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Gautieri nullifies Rams’ home edge

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Facing the top home team in the league, Dan Gautieri showed that the Newark Pilots have plenty of fight left this season.

Gautieri tossed a complete-game shutout to both stymie and cool off the Watertown Rams with a 3-0 decision in a Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League game Sunday at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.

While the Pilots (15-23) are battling to stay alive in the playoff race, they halted the West Division-leading Rams’ winning streak at five and also handed Watertown (23-16) just its second loss in the past 13 games at home.

“Pretty much before the game here, our co-owner Leslie (Ohmann) was telling us that ‘this is pretty much it — we have to win today,’” said Gautieri, who pitches for Penn. “This is something that we’ve been telling each other for a while — we want to be able to control our own fate, so this win is really key for us if we actually want to make the playoffs.”

“We let him (Gautieri) get in a rhythm real early,” said Watertown coach Paul Alteri, whose team slipped to 12-4 at home. “He ended up dictating the game — and that’s on us. But in defense of that kid, he threw well and really shut us down tonight.”

Steve Laurino (Marist) doubled twice, singled and knocked in two runs for fourth-place Newark, which pulled within one-half game of Adirondack in the chase for the division’s second wild card spot.

“We’ve been doing well, but we came out flat today,” said Rams left fielder Bobby Indeglia (Holy Cross). “Their pitcher got into a groove real early and he was on today. Once they scored their three runs, we were trying to fight the whole game to put something together, but we never did.”

In turn, Watertown’s lead in the division was trimmed to three games by second-place Elmira, which won twice on Sunday.

“We have nine games left and we want to get another winning streak going,” said Indeglia, who singled twice. “We really want to keep up our advantage against teams from our own division because getting the top overall seed is our goal.”

Gautieri, who set a quick pace throughout the game, at one point retired 13 of 14 batters before Colin Theroux singled in the seventh inning, to out duel starter Joe Adel.

“It was just a great effort from Dan,” said Newark coach Mike Armstrong, whose team also ended a four-game losing skid to Watertown. “He’s been pretty good for us all year and to have him go out and pitch like this in a pretty much must-win game for us — all of them are from this point on — was huge for us.”

The Rams threatened in the eighth as Nik Alfonso, Indeglia and Dominic Lopez each singled to load the bases, but Jacob Boylan struck out, and Lopez was forced out at second base on a ground ball to end the inning.

“We can’t rely on a threat in the eighth inning after we dug ourselves a hole early on,” Alteri said. “Making a comeback is tough to do on a consistent basis in this game.”

Gautieri then retired the side in order in the ninth to record his first win of the summer.

“I felt great,” said Gautieri, who pitched four complete games for the Quakers in the spring. “The last couple starts, I haven’t really been able to throw a curve ball for a strike, but that pretty much got me out of a lot of jams today. I felt like I had a lot of stamina.”

Newark scored three runs in the first three innings to provide all the offensive support Gautieri would need on an RBI double from Laurino in the first, and a run-scoring double from David Vandercook and an RBI single from Laurino — both coming in the third.

Adel, who leads Watertown in wins (four), pitched seven innings, allowing the three runs on 10 hits and didn’t walk a batter.

After a day off, the Rams will host second-place Elmira in a doubleheader at 5 p.m. on Tuesday at the Fairgrounds. Watertown has nine games — including seven at home — remaining in its regular season.

“It will be nice to get a day off, but it would have been better going into it with a win,” Indeglia said. “Tuesday is a big day ... hopefully we can come up with two wins against Elmira — it’s going to be a big doubleheader for us.”

nNOTES: The Rams lead the season series, 5-2. ... Watertown played an exhibition and lost 10-9 to the Sackets Harbor Ontarios earlier Sunday in a game in Sackets Harbor played by 1860s-era rules as a part of the village’s Can-Am festival. Video highlights of the exhibition can be found at http://wdt.me/X3DM8y.

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