By ADAM SHINDER
Recorder Sports Staff
Eight was just barely enough to keep the Amsterdam Rams at bay Wednesday afternoon at Shuttleworth Park.
The Rams were chasing from the outset of Wednesday's Big 10 baseball clash with Christian Brothers Academy as the Brothers pounded their way to an early eight-run cushion against Amsterdam starting pitcher Dylan Angelo. Then, Zach Dufel -- two days removed from tweaking his left ankle at CBA's home field in Colonie -- came on to silence the Brothers' bats.
"It's tough to overcome eight, but I said from the beginning when we saw the way Dufel was throwing, 'If we can score 10, we'll win,'" Spagnola said. "I gave them one more (run). I said, 'If we score nine, we'll probably win. If we score 10, we'll definitely win. Let's get two here, two there, start getting some back."
The Rams started chipping away, and Spagnola nearly became a prophey. A run in the third got Amsterdam into the scoring column, then came three more in the third sparked by Andrew Rouse's first varsity home run. Then, an incredible sequence of at-bats got the Rams within two runs in the bottom of the sixth with the tying run on second base, but the Brothers escaped that jam, then held on in the seventh despite the Rams twice bringing the tying run at the plate to survive for an 8-6 win that left Amsterdam frustrated after once again coming within one big hit of breaking through against one of the Big 10's elite clubs.
"It's been the story all year. We haven't gotten that big hit," Spagnola said. "We did today. We got one or two of those big hits when we needed them, but that's not enough. That's the story of this little funk we're in -- we can get them on, we just can't get them in."
The Rams (5-5, 4-4 Big 10) were also victimized by some defensive problems in their fourth consecutive loss, committing five errors -- four of which came as CBA put up four runs in each of the first two innings against Angelo.
The Brothers took advantage of Amsterdam's early mistakes, striking early on a Zach DeThomasis three-run double and Alex Kashgorian's three-run homer in the top of the first, then getting a two-run blast from Chase Crawford in the second on the way to building up an 8-0 lead.
"It sucks, because we made so many errors," Dufel said. "I think that if we made less errors, we win that game."
Angelo was done after two innings, but the Rams were able to turn to Dufel, the team's top starter, who didn't get out of the second inning of Monday's 13-3 loss at CBA after issues with the pitcher's mound caused him to tweak the left ankle he'd previously injured during basketball season.
Wednesday, on his home mound, Dufel was taped up and comfortable, tossing five shutout innings with six strikeouts against just one walk.
"I wasn't really comfortable on their mound at all. I kept rolling my ankle, and my ankle was killing me," Dufel said. "I taped up my ankle today and it was 10 times better than it was Monday."
"He threw very well. He's a good arm," CBA coach Nick Davey said of Dufel. "He's probably the best arm we've seen so far all year."
With Dufel keeping the Brothers off the board, Amsterdam started its rally against CBA starter Jordan Mitchell in the bottom of the third when Jason Agresta was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to bring home Ayden Healy.
The Rams then cut the CBA lead to 8-4 in the fourth by rallying for three runs with two outs. Ayden Healy started the charge with a walk, then Rouse's flyball carried just over the fence in right for a two-run blast -- the first homer hit by an Amsterdam player other than Healy since Tom Miller's solo shot in a May 23, 2011 game against La Salle Institute. Three batters later, Agresta ripped a single to left two plate Julian Gallup before Mitchell retired Rob Sherlock on a deep flyball to center to escape the jam.
In the sixth, the Rams put together an incredible string of four at-bats as Healy, Rouse, Gallup and Glionna worked consecutive walks off CBA reliever Justin Decker to bring in a run. After Decker struck out Agresta for the first out of the inning, Sherlock lofted a sacrifice fly to cut the lead to 8-6 before Decker induced Eric Robertshaw to fly out to left to end the threat with the tying run on second base. Matt Hamel came on in the seventh to notch the save for CBA, working around a one-out pinch hit single from Dan Renwick to retire Healy and Rouse and lock up the win, dropping Amsterdam back to .500 heading into Friday's non-league home tilt against Colonie.
"I really thought we were gonna pull ahead," Dufel said. "It's tough, that's the way baseball works sometimes. I'm just happy, really glad about this team that we fought back. I really think we can do something."
NOTES: Wednesday's game was initially scheduled to be played under the lights, but was moved to a 4 p.m. start due to a college game between SUNY Oneonta and SUNY New Paltz being moved to Shuttleworth. A member of the Oneonta sports information department said the game was relocated to Amsterdam because the second game of an April 16 doubleheader between the two teams in Oneonta was postponed and since SUNYAC rules prevent teams from making multiple road trips to the same site, the game was moved to Shuttleworth as the closest neutral field for both teams.