Champions Walked Off by Rockland to Open June
By Mike Nellis
Ottawa, ON – A valiant comeback by the Ottawa Champions fell just short Thursday afternoon. After a two-run ninth for the Champions, Jared McDonald and the Rockland Boulders walked off the defending champs 7-6 with an infield single in the bottom of the ninth.
The loss is Ottawa’s eighth in nine games, and drops their record to 4-9.
Despite the close play and near win, Champions manger Hal Lanier was not satisfied with the loss, saying “certain people” need to step up if the Champions want to turn their record around.
“Our bullpen needs to be better,” Lanier said. “We came back and really battled. Guys who got on had some big base hits, but again we wasted a fine start from Gil.”
The Champions starter went six full innings, giving up five hits and two earned runs. He gets no decision, and a quality start.
After Rockland took a 1-0 lead in the fourth, Ottawa answered with a solo home run off the bat of Daniel Bick in the fifth inning. Rockland continued the seesaw effect with a sac fly courtesy of Marcus Nidiffer in the bottom half of the aforementioned fifth.
In the fifth, the shootout continued with another home run, this time a two-run bomb off the bat of Matt Helms. The shot to right field was Helms’s second homer of the season, and put Ottawa ahead 3-2.
After the Champions padded their lead in the top of the seventh with a run, the middle of the Boulders order silenced the Champions.
First a monster three-run homer by Nidiffer gave the Boulders the lead at 5-4, and then after the Boulders captain cleared the bases, Joe Maloney did it again with a solo jack to give Rockland a 6-4 lead.
Ottawa needed a big ninth inning, and they came up with the baserunners they needed. After early singles from Daniel Bick and Brian Bistagne, Sebastien Boucher walked to load the bases for Steve Brown. The Columbian made no mistake, lining a two-run single into left field for a 6-6 tie in the ninth.
The Boulders battled again, and loaded the bases in the bottom half of the inning. Victor Beriguete (L, 0-1) struck out Alex Herceg to bring Rockland to their last out.
Then, McDonald dribbled a ball down the first baseline. Beriguete fielded the ball, collided with McDonald in front of first base, and umpire Kris Engstrand ruled that Beriguete missed the tag and the base. He called McDonald safe after he picked himself up and touched first, giving the Boulders a 7-6 win.
Boulders closer Mayckol Guaipe (W, 2-0) picked up his second victory of the season after blowing the save a half-inning earlier.
Ottawa will return home for a six-game homestand, staring Friday night against the Sussex County Miners at 7:05 p.m. After the end of the three-game set, the very same Rockland Boulders come into down for an early-week series.
Single-game tickets and group packages can be purchased by visiting www.ottawachampions.com, over the phone at 613-745-2255, or in person at the RCGT Park box office.