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First-place Amsterdam too much for Watertown Wizards

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The Amsterdam Mohawks showed on Friday night why they’re far and away the top team in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League thus far.

Chandler Shepherd pitched seven innings of shutout ball and the Mohawks received some timely hitting to roll past the Watertown Wizards, 10-4 on fireworks night at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.

Shepherd, a right-hander who is coming off his freshman season at the University of Kentucky, allowed three hits, struck out seven and walked only two in improving to 4-0 for Amsterdam (17-3). Entering the game with a 0.45 ERA, Shepherd has allowed only one run in 27 innings this season and has registered 29 strikeouts.

“It was a good outing, Shepherd was dominating out there,” said manager Keith Griffin, whose team has won six straight games and 16 of its past 17. “He wasn’t quite as good as he’s been and that’s what’s scary — he’s been sharper, but he was still really good tonight.”

The Wizards had scored a combined 21 runs in road victories at Elmira (12-2) and Oneonta (9-5) on Wednesday and Thursday, but ran into a red-hot hurler in Shepherd.

“Their guy is pretty good,” Watertown manager Nathan Kafka said of Shepherd. “He’s got a chance to be really good in the near future — he’s got good stuff.”

Watertown (8-12), one of the league’s top road teams at 6-2, suffered its seventh consecutive loss at home, and are now 2-10 at the fairgrounds.

“We want to come out here and take advantage of being at home, but that hasn’t been happening,” said left fielder Donald Walter (Cal Poly Pomona). “We’ve just been really struggling with our bats and we’ve just got to stop making errors in all areas of the field. ... We’ve been getting quality starts from our pitchers, but those errors have been costly.”

Shepherd, though, felt right at home.

“I felt good, I didn’t really put the ball exactly where I wanted it early on,” Shepherd said, “but I have a good defense behind me and that always helps. It’s been good this season, we’re a really confident team right now.”

The early innings featured a pitchers’ duel between Shepherd and Wizards’ right-hander Nick Bradley. Amsterdam scored single runs in the first and fifth innings before breaking through with four runs, two of them unearned, in the seventh inning.

“He had good stuff all day,” Walter said of Shepherd. “It seemed like we were taking our swings at his good pitches and he was tough out there.”

Amsterdam left fielder Evan Stephens walked in the first and scored on a single to left field from Nathan Gomez. Center fielder Ed Charlton followed with a two-out home run over the left-center field fence in the fifth for a 2-0 Amsterdam lead.

With the bases loaded in the seventh, Stephens hit a bases-clearing double off the left field wall and later scored on an infield throwing error as the Mohawks built a 6-0 advantage and added four more runs in the ninth.

Bradley (Western Michigan) pitched seven innings of five-hit ball, allowing six runs, four of them earned, in taking his first loss of the season, dropping to 2-1.

The Wizards showed some signs of life by scoring twice in the eighth inning — on an error and an RBI single from first baseman Jordan Enos (Holy Cross) — and right fielder Derek Hagy (Texas-Pan American) singled in two runs in the ninth.

“The guys did well,” Kafka said. “We put together some good at bats, we just didn’t put it together for some runs.”

The two teams will complete the home-and-home series at 7 tonight in Amsterdam.

“That’s the great thing about baseball, we just wait for the next day and get back out there,” Walter said. “You’ve got to have a short memory, especially after a game like this.”

nNOTES: Fireworks night drew an announced crowd of 1,047, the team’s second largest this season. ... Watertown committed six errors for the second straight home game. ... The Wizards will host the Newark Pilots on Sunday at 5 p.m.

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