The Watertown High boys baseball team qualified for the postseason with an 8-4 win over Winthrop May 24 at Victory Field. The victory gave the Raiders a 2-2 mark against Division 3 teams and punched their ticket into the tournament.
“We would have like to have won more games this season” said coach Joe Chiodo, whose team finished with a 5-15 mark (4-14 in Middlesex League play). “But there were a lot of those losses where we had the lead or were tied, but just couldn’t pull it all together to get the win. Against Winthrop, we put it all together, and if we can do that in the tournament, maybe we can make some noise.”
In the most important game of the season, it was no wonder Chiodo gave the ball to pitching ace Justin Renzella. After the complete-game win over Winthrop in which he struck out 10 while walking only three, he ran his record to 3-1 with an ERA of 1.91. He had two complete games this season, had one save, struck out 33 batters in 33 innings and allowed only a .235 batting average against him.
“He pitched another great game for us,” Chiodo said, noting that he also helped his own cause with two hits and two runs scored. “He has been solid all year long.”
The Vikings got on the board with a run in the top of the first, but the Raiders would score two in the bottom of the second to take a 2-1 lead. In that frame, junior center fielder Dan Balian came up with a clutch two-run, two-out single, driving in catcher Sean Callahan and left fielder Dan Alberico.
The Raiders added another run in the bottom of the third to take a 3-1 lead before Winthrop scored one in the top of the fourth and two in the top of the fifth to reclaim the lead.
However, Watertown responded by scoring five unanswered runs to seal its tournament qualification. In the bottom of the fifth, the Raiders scored three, helped out by two errors and an Alberico (2-for-3, RBI, run scored) RBI double. In the bottom of the sixth, the Raiders gave themselves a four-run cushion after a Dave Sideris double to right center scored two.
“I gave Dave the green light with a 3-0 count,” Chiodo said. “I figured we had the lead and we had the chance right there to put the game away and Dave didn’t miss. He hit a blast.”
Sideris would end up the regular season with a team-leading 15 RBI while sharing high average honors with senior shortstop Steve Panza (2-for-3, two runs scored, stolen base against Winthrop) who both hit .339. Panza also led the team with 21 hits, 19 runs scored and an on-base percentage of .438.
The Raiders are hoping guys like Sideris and Panza stayed hot when they opened tournament play on Thursday, May 31, against O’Bryant High School in Boston.