By ADAM SHINDER
Recorder Sports Staff
For two weeks, the Amsterdam Rams have been in desperate search of the game-changing hit that would snap them out of an increasingly frustrating funk. Friday night against Colonie, senior Ayden Healy provided three.
Healy went 3-for-3 with five runs batted in, finishing a double shy of the cycle as he provided two game-tying hits -- including his third home run of the season -- and a two-run triple that provided the Rams with some crucial insurance runs in a 7-4 non-league baseball win over Colonie that snapped Amsterdam's four-game losing streak.
"We got the job done today after a tough four-game losing streak," Healy said. "We had three games we could've won last week, and it feels good to come out here and get the win."
Amsterdam coach Brian Spagnola said Friday's win was a major shot in the arm for a Rams club that had started to stagnate as midseason approached.
"There's a lot of smiles, a lot of emotion," Spagnola said. "We've showed that emotion and intensity, but we needed this win to get us going. A couple big hits, and we've got a little confidence right now."
After Healy -- and Jonardy Anil, who ripped an RBI double to plate the go-ahead run in the fifth inning -- helped the Rams (6-5) rally twice from two-run deficits, senior pitcher Dylan Angelo earned the win with three scoreless innings in relief of starter Julian Gallup.
Originally, Angelo was only scheduled to throw two innings, with junior varsity call-up Tony Isabel throwing the seventh to get some varsity experience. But, with the Rams nursing a three-run lead, Angelo desperately wanted to be the one to be on the mound to end Amsterdam's skid.
"No. Absolutely not. We were on a losing streak, I felt I was our best option and I wanted to get out there and get it done," Angelo said.
Spagnola said Angelo's insistence to remain in the game was reminiscent of when Amsterdam Mohawks pitcher Mark Leiter Jr. refused to exit his brilliant complete game effort during the 2012 Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League playoffs.
"(Dylan) said, 'We need the win. You're not taking me out of this game,'" Spagnola said. "It was very convincing, and I was with him. I felt bad, because we brought Tony up here to throw, but we needed a win."
Angelo allowed one hit over three shutout innings, working around a leadoff walk to Alex Luizzi in the seventh to close out the game by inducing three straight harmless pop-ups.
Offensively, the Rams were powered by senior leadoff hitter Healy, who erased an early 2-0 deficit with a two-run homer -- his third of the season -- off Colonie starter Ryan Nicholson. After Colonie went ahead with two runs in the top of the fourth, the Rams again rallied to tie the game behind back-to-back two-out RBI singles from Eric Robertshaw and Healy.
Then, in the bottom of the fifth, the Rams finally surged ahead with a two-out rally. With Brett Flint on first base, Anil lined a fastball from Colonie reliever Anthony Bassotti over the head of Garnet Raiders first baseman Luizzi and into the right field corner for a double that brought in the go-ahead run. Robertshaw then worked a walk, then Healy lofted a flyball deep into left that Colonie's Kyrek Osterhout lost in the lights at Shuttleworth Park and fell for a two-run triple.
"It felt good. We looked like a great team today," Angelo said. "That's how we should be playing all the time."
After four frustrating losses to Troy and Christian Brothers Academy, Friday night was a major boost for the Rams heading into next week's home-and-home series with La Salle Institute.
"Now, we have all that momentum going into La Salle," Healy said. "We're gonna go into La Salle thinking we can win both those games and keep going on into sectionals."