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Watertown Rams split doubleheader

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With the playoffs right around the corner, both Watertown and Albany each received a pitching gem in Tuesday’s doubleheader by identical scores.

First, Kevin Klaess shut down the Dutchmen, 4-0, in the first game. Then, Albany’s Jose Hernandez blanked the Rams by the same margin, to salvage a split on the day in a Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League twinbill at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.

“Both winning pitchers pitched well,” Watertown coach Paul Alteri said. “Kevin did a good job ... and sometimes you’ve got to tip your cap to the other team — their guy (Hernandez) did a good job and threw well.”

While Watertown (28-19) had clinched the West Division title two nights ago, the Dutchmen are just battling to make the playoffs.

Albany (25-21), which received a three-run home run from Zach Remillard in the first inning of the nightcap, enters the final day of the regular season tied with Glens Falls for the third and final postseason-berth in the East Division and the two teams will square off in a doubleheader at Glens Falls today.

“Absolutely, this was a good bounce-back win for us,” Albany coach Nick Davey said. “Now going into tomorrow, I think we need a split to get ourselves into the playoffs. Jose pitched his tail off for us tonight and gave everything he had — he gave us a great game.”

Hernandez allowed only five hits, struck out seven and walked three in a seven-inning, complete-game effort for the Dutchmen in the second game.

“We got a good couple pitching outings from both of our pitchers,” said Rams third baseman J.J. Wagner, who reached base five times on the night, including a pair of singles. “In the first game, we were really able to get some good at-bats and put up some runs. But in the second, we were a little stymied at the plate.”

In the opener, Klaess pitched six-plus innings of shutout ball, striking out three and walking three. Matt Hennie struck out both batters he faced in the seventh to preserve the shutout.

“Kevin threw well and that was his last start of the year,” Alteri said of Klaess (5-2), who tied Joe Adel for the team lead in wins and will return home to California later this week. “He’s got to go home early and won’t be with us for the playoffs. So I was hoping that tonight was his night — and sure enough he came through and he threw a real nice game.”

Watertown scored four runs, three of then unearned, in the first three innings of the opener to provide Klaess with enough run support.

The Rams plated a run in the first after Riley Smith was hit by a pitch and Trevor Marino singled to left field, Smith scored on an error as Wagner lined a ball off the glove of left fielder Bradley Noland.

Bryce Greager singled to left field in the second and one out later, scored on Smith’s single to left-center field for a 2-0 Watertown lead.

The Rams scored on a pair of unearned runs in the third as Wagner was hit by a pitch and scored when third baseman Remillard threw the ball past first base on Collin Theroux’s ground ball. Theroux, who took third base on the overthrow, came home on Brad Rush’s fly out to center field and Watertown led 4-0.

“They’re a real good team,” Davey said of Watertown. “Hopefully, we’ll see them in the playoffs — they can really hit.”

Klaess was aided by an unconventional double play in the third. Remillard fouled out to Theroux and the catcher fired to first base to pick off runner Chris Suseck.

In the second game, Albany jumped on Rams starter Daniel Reitzler in the first inning as Anthony Marks reached on an infield single, Matthew Dacey walked and Remillard, who also tripled and doubled, connected on a three-run shot over the left field wall.

“Zach had an unbelievable night tonight,” Davey said. “We came up with some clutch and timely hits and we pitched our butts off.”

The Dutchmen added a run in the sixth when Teddy Cillis walked and scored on a bases-loaded walk by Marks.

Watertown, which left the bases loaded in the second inning and two more in the third, stranded eight runners and managed to reach base just four times in the final four innings.

“I’m kind of disappointed because obviously we wanted the sweep,” Alteri said. “We took the first one and we’re hoping to get the second one, especially in front of a big crowd like that. But they really shut us down in the second game.”

The Rams conclude their regular season by playing Utica at 7 tonight at the Fairgrounds.

Watertown will host either Elmira or Newark in the first game of a best-of-three divisional series at 7 p.m. on Friday.

nNOTES: Rams center fielder Joe Moroney came into the day leading the league in runs scored (40). ... Watertown has split three doubleheaders this season, while sweeping the other three. ... Albany won the season series, 3-1. ... At 15-7, Watertown still has the top home record in the circuit. ... The Dutchmen are 11-11 on the road.

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