Champions can’t complete comeback in 7-6 loss to Miners
OTTAWA – The Ottawa Champions comeback bid fell just short on Saturday as they lost 7-6 to the Sussex County Miners.
Down 6-2 at one point, the Champs kept pressing the Miners but couldn’t put it together in the bottom of the ninth. Ottawa had the bases loaded with no outs but weren’t able to capitalize.
“Another one-inning game,” said Champions manager Sébastien Boucher. “Everything seems to happen in on inning. It’s as if we lose focus for one inning and that’s the inning that ends up costing us. We gave up four today and that hurt us.”
Those four runs came in the top of the fifth and were all earned runs, but Boucher thought it was positioning mistakes that cost his team.
“We could have easily limited the damage in that in, but it’s just a lack of focus for a minute and we lose the ball game,” he said.
Newly-signed pitcher Zac Westcott made his first start in a Champions uniform, striking out four batters and walking three over five innings with four earned runs on eight hits.
Boucher said that Westcott hadn’t started in almost three weeks but still threw a good ball game.
“For him to come in today and throw like he did, I’m satisfied with his outing,” said Boucher. “He had that one tough inning, the last inning that he threw, but he did fine. He was throwing strikes, he was getting the ball down and he was keeping us in the ball game.”
The Miners scored four runs in the fifth, highlighted by a two-RBI triple from Jose Bizuela that drove in Audy Ciriaco and Mikey Reynolds. Brian Portelli hit an RBI single in the bottom of the inning that scored Malik Collymore to make it 6-3.
Portelli went 2-for-4 on the night with two RBI after going 0-for-3 yesterday. He was particularly impressed with his team’s compete level despite the loss.
“It’s special for a team to have that kind of fight,” said Portelli. “There’s even a lot of good teams that don’t have that fight at the end of the game. I think that we just have to start playing complete ball games.”
Sussex added another run in the top of the seventh, but the Champions clawed back, scoring three runs to make it 7-6 heading into the ninth.
Sussex County took a 2-1 lead in the top of the third after RBI singles from Trey Hair and Ciriaco. Ottawa tied it up in the bottom with an RBI single up the middle from Jiandido Tromp that scored Maikol Gonzalez.
The Champions got on the board first after two straight doubles to left from Tromp and Portelli. Tromp scored from second on Portelli’s hit, making it 1-0 Ottawa.
The Champions and Miners close out their three-game series tomorrow at 1:35 p.m. at RCGT Park in a critical game for Ottawa if they intend to fight their way back into the playoff race.