Bullpen Struggles Allow Boulders to Come Back in Eighth
By Mike Pattison
Photo by Marc Lafleur
Ottawa, ON – The Ottawa Champions fell to the first-place Rockland Boulders 7-6 on Chris Neil Appreciation Night at RCGT Park.
The former Ottawa Senators forward threw out the ceremonial first pitch and greeted fans to take photos and sign autographs.
Despite the loss, it was a lively night at the ballpark as the Champions fans were treated to an entertaining game as well as the chance to meet the Senators' enforcer.
Things were going well for the Champions as the Boulders were struggling to conjure up any offence. However, they got to the Ottawa bullpen in the eighth with a six-run barrage.
RBI's from Jared McDonald, Mike Montville and Aaron Wilson brought Rockland to within a run. All three of those runs were charged to Ottawa reliever Raydel Sanchez. Then, Dylan Tice launched a three-run homer over the right field wall to propel the Boulders in front 7-5.
"That's the first time the bullpen has given it up in a long, long time. It's going to happen sometimes," said Champions manager Hal Lanier.
Austin Chrismon was in line to pick up his ninth win of the year as he continued his hot streak on the mound. He went seven innings and allowed just one unearned run.
The Champions exploded in the second inning, connecting for four runs. It began with a solo homer for Steve Brown, his fifth of the year. They then rallied to load the bases for Matt Helms who drove in one with a single. A double play later, Daniel Bick centred up the gut to cap off the inning.
Also in the inning, Matt Helms made some history. His RBI single tied Albert Cartwright for the longest hit streak in Ottawa Champions' history, reaching 13 consecutive games.
The Boulders were able to crack onto the scoreboard in the seventh. Alex Herceg chopped one to third baseman Gustavo Pierre who one-hopped his throw past first base, allowing an unearned run to score.
The Champions used three relievers in the eighth, each of which allowed at least one run. Adam Eggnatz (L, 1-1) was left with the loss, as he was responsible for the go-ahead run during the Dylan Tice homerun.
Ottawa tried a ninth inning comeback but it fell just short. Sebastien Boucher drove in a run with a sac fly, but with a runner in scoring position they could not capitalize.
"We just have to start a new winning streak tomorrow," said Lanier.
The two teams will continue their four-game series on Friday night with first pitch scheduled for 7:05pm.