Pilots’ starter Dominick Ruscitti hurls eight strong innings
The bats came alive in Newark as the Pilots (8-8) earned a 9-2 victory over the Watertown Wizards (7-9) on Friday night in front of 1,121 fans at Colburn Park.
After failing to make contact on any big hits in their previous game, which led to their one-run loss to Amsterdam on Thursday, three doubles, two triples and a home run gave the Pilots a large lead and the win.
Jacob Starnes (UT Dallas) ended his season slump in the bottom of the first with a three-run triple to left center to give Newark the early 3-0 lead. Matt Vera (San Joaquin Delta) was the first base runner to score after reaching base with a one-out double.
The Wizards managed to cut the deficit to one by the third frame. Chris Gruarin (Canisius) slapped a double of his own into right field to start the second inning. Gruarin then scored on the RBI fielder’s choice by A.J. Capone (Saint Rose).
Erick Gaylord (Campbell) cut the lead to 3-2 in the third. The Watertown centerfielder reached base on an error, then stole both second and third with Angel Rosa (Alcorn State) at the plate. Rosa’s single to center field allowed Gaylord to touch home uncontested.
Newark’s slugging first baseman Randy Villa (San Joaquin Delta) continued to punish opposing pitchers. Villa’s two-run homer in the fifth extended the Pilots’ lead to 5-2. The California native finished the night 4-for-5 with two runs and three RBI’s to lead all batters.
Watertown starting pitcher Anthony Buonopane (Furman) stayed in game through the start of the sixth as the Pilots added four more runs to increase their lead to 9-2. Vera hit his second double of the night for two RBI’s. Kyle Attl (Cal State Northridge) added another triple to knock in Vera in the following at bat.
Kegan Banks (Blinn) came in to relieve starter Dominick Ruscitti (Kutztown) in the ninth. Ruscitti went eight full innings with four strikeouts in his second win of the season.
Buonopane fell to 0-2 on the season, giving up all nine Newark runs while striking out four. Larry Balkwill (Siena) hit two doubles as part of a three-hit effort to lead the Wizards.
The Newark Pilots are back at Colburn Park on Saturday, July 2 at 7:30 p.m. as they host the Elmira Pioneers. Following the game will be the fireworks show in honor of the Fourth of July weekend. The Watertown Wizards are home against the Cooperstown Hawkeyes at 7:05 p.m.