Saturday Sports: Rapids, Red & Black seasons wrap up

Published: Jul. 30, 2023 at 3:39 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - The Watertown Rapids 2023 season finale on the road against the Oneonta Outlaws was postponed due to rain.

With the rainout, the Rapids finished percentage points out of a playoff spot, wrapping up the 2023 season with a 15-30 record.

Despite not making the post season, it was a memorable couple of months for the players and coaches. Almost 2 months ago, the 2023 Watertown Rapids arrived at Toyota Field for the beginning of a grueling 45 game schedule that would see it’s share of ups and downs for the players.

New teammates along with 9 straight weeks of hitting the field almost every day was a bit of a culture shock for the players, but they say the lessons learned and friendships made made it all worth it.

”I’ve had a great time in Watertown so far, meeting all the new people. All the fans are pretty dedicated and pretty loyal to the fan base and the team. All my friends here on the team, it’s great to meet new people and obviously see the talents within this league,” said outfielder Jax Miller.

”It’s been great. I’m a high schooler getting to see a new perspective with a bunch of older guys and seeing a lot more polished players compared to what I’ve seen in the past. A lot more experience on the field, and it’s great to put myself out there with these guys,” said catcher David McCann.

While the wins didn’t come as often as the players wanted, the one thing they did get was some much needed experience for when they return to their respective colleges for fall baseball and their regular seasons in the spring. One of the key reasons for coming to Watertown to play baseball this summer.

”Yeah, so this is really, this has been my first full season in maybe 4 years since COVID and just trying to get on the field in college. This was really big for me to help me bring back to my school a nice piece of paper full of stats. Aside of that, I’ve seen great pitching here. It’s a great league, great competition and I felt that I really held my own here,” said outfielder Gaetan Grandelli.

”I would take away kind of learning how to play with the ups and downs of baseball and the adversity. Kind of learn from some older guys to kind of just take it on the chin and keep playing every day like it’s a new day, every pitch like it’s a new pitch,” said 3rd baseman Pranav Sundar.

Rapids Manager Mike Kogut, who put the roster together, says he’s impressed with how this group dealt with adversity throughout the season and gave 100% each and every night.

”Yeah, you know these guys made friendships that are gonna last a lifetime. They bonded over the 2 months here. They’ll stay in contact and they were a great group of guys to coach. They always gave maximum effort which is all a coach can ask for,” said Kogut.

With the work these players put in on the field and off the field by holding camps for the area youth, their stay in Watertown has given them valuable lessons they will carry with them for the rest of their baseball careers and lives.

The Watertown Red and Black wrapped up their 2023 GDFL regular season Saturday night at George Ashcraft Field, hosting the Upstate Predators.

The Predators score on their first possession when Billy Joiner rolls out and hits Jarrett Osterhout for a 60 yard touchdown pass. Upstate in front 6-0.

The Red & Black defense tightens up and Josh Lear comes up with the sack of Joiner.

In the second quarter, the Red & Black get on the board when Eric Beyler connects on a 32 yard field goal: 6-3 Upstate.

The Predators strike just before halftime when Joiner hits Osterhout for a 5 yard touchdown: 14-3 Upstate at the half.

Red & Black bounces back when Corey Smith takes it in from the 1 yard line and then Shawn Johnson hits Keepan Quior with the two point conversion, cutting the Predators lead to 14-11.

Now in the 4th quarter, the Predators are up 22-11 when Corey Smith comes up with an interception for the Red & Black. He’s becoming a ball hawk for Watertown.

The Red & Black score later in the 4th quarter when Shawn Johnson passes to Semaj James for the touchdown. The score now 22-17 Red & Black.

With the score now 22 to 19, it was the Red & Black with one last chance to pull the game out, but a 4th down pass play comes up just short. Final Score: 22-19 Upstate Predators.

The Thousand Islands Spirits are less than 24 hours away from hosting the North American Box Lacrosse League Upstate Division Championship game.

The Spirits will square off against Oswego for the title Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. at the Town of Alexandria Municipal Arena.

The two teams have met three times this year, with the Spirits winning both divisional games and losing an out of division matchup with Oswego.

The Spirits enter the game winners of 7 straight and ranked 2nd in the latest NABLL standings, but Spirits Owner and General Manager Nate Jobson knows Sunday’s game will be a battle.

”You know, more of the same. The last 2 times we played them in league play we won. So, that’s the expectation, that we can do it again but time will tell. Tomorrow is when it’s all on the line and that’s when it counts,” said Jobson.