ARLINGTON — The Watertown High School baseball team began the MIAA Div. 3 Tournament with a 7-2 win over Arlington Catholic. The 38th-seeded Raiders traveled to 27th seed Arlington Catholic’s home field on June 3 for the Preliminary Round matchup.
Being the lower seed mixed with the cold air temperatures and bouts of rain, the Raiders faced challenges, but nothing the players and coaches, especially Watertown head coach Aram Manoukian, felt they could not conquer.
“I knew they’d be good. They had good wins against really good teams, like really top ranked teams … but we also knew that with a little bit of rest, and especially the way we played earlier in the year … we could scrap them,” said Manoukian.
The first two innings remained scoreless, with solid fielding from both teams. However, once the third inning began and the Raiders reached the top of their batting order the momentument shifted.
Senior captain Casey Williams knocked a three-run home run over the Arlington Catholic fence to commence the scoring. That did not entirely surprise Manoukian.
“His batting practice before the game today looked a little different than it has the last two or three weeks,” said Manoukian. “He was really connecting through the ball today. You know, Casey likes guys that throw hard.”
Manoukian felt that that was the turning point for the Raiders.
“I thought that kind of flattened them a little bit like ‘woah, this team can actually hit a little bit.’” he said. “So when they had a very good lefty pitcher throwing against us, Casey takes them deep. It does make you kind of sink a little bit as a pitcher. So that was the turning point I think.”
Along with the home run, dominant batting from sophomore Emilio Berndt and senior Matt Tuccinardi sealed the fate for the Cougars by driving in two runners in the sixth inning.
“Matt Tuccinardi’s single that drove in two runs was huge coming off the bench,” Williams said. “It’s not easy to do against a good pitcher. So I was very impressed with that.”
The Raiders’ pitching was also impressive during the game. Sophomore Justin MacCormack and senior captain Robbie Iannetta each tallied five strikeouts.
“The pitching was dominant through the whole game even when there were some bumps in the road,” said Williams.
Manoukian complimented the team for staying steady throughout the whole game and for remembering the tactics they have learned.
“We played, basically, perfect defense. We threw a runner out from the catcher spot. So I mean, I think we did all the little things well, and I think they’ve kind of realized that, you know, you can lose to anybody. You can beat anybody. But you really got to stay sharp, the entire seven innings,” said Manoukian.
With a 10-10 regular season record, the Raiders have improved all around this season. Their fielding has also improved, all around, through the season.
“I think every single guy on the team is playing better right now than they were in the beginning of the year,” Manoukian said. “The defense looks really crisp right now … Everyone, as an overall baseball player, has gotten better.”
Individually, players are improving their game noticeably to the coaches and teammates around them.
“Like at third base, Dan Tattrie is spinning double plays very quickly. Rob hasn’t made an error in what seems like forever,” said. Manoukian. “LJ (John Cacace) wasn’t throwing anybody out from the catcher spot in the first half of the year. He’s throwing three guys out, I think, the last three games.”
Watertown looks forward to taking on the number-six seed Foxborough (13-7) in the Round of 32 on June 5 at 4 p.m. The team is confident in their abilities and feels like they are ready for the next round of playoffs.
“My coaching staff feels like we’ve covered all the bases there’s really nothing left to prepare for at this point,” said. Manoukian. “The guys know what they can do. They’re a veteran team at this point, especially in the infield. So it’s just about going out there and doing it.”