Early errors cost Champions in 4-2 loss to Sussex County
OTTAWA – The Ottawa Champions gave up three errors in the second inning that allowed the Sussex County Miners to score three runs. That would prove to be all the Miners needed as they won the first game of a three-game series 4-2 on Friday.
Heath Bowers (2-6) pitched six solid innings for Ottawa, striking out three with one walk and allowing one earned run on four hits.
“One bad inning,” said Champions manager Sébastien Boucher about his team’s performance against the first-place Miners. “We had one inning where we gave up a couple walks and we ended up throwing the ball around a little too much and gave them three runs.”
Boucher was happy with his pitcher’s performance considering Bowers is primarily a reliever.
“I think Heath threw really well coming in in a spot start, aside from a couple walks from the beginning” he said, “but he finished really strong.”
Larry Balkwill’s first home run with the Champions, a solo shot over the left field wall, made it 4-2 Sussex County, but that’s as close as Ottawa would get, despite having runners on second and third with one out in the bottom of the ninth.
Boucher said that although he liked that his team never gave up, he thinks that they play to their opponent too much.
“If we play Sussex, who’s the first-place team, we’ll play up with them,” said Boucher, “and then we’ll play the last-place team and we’ll play down to them. We need to be able to play the way we did today, every day.”
Sussex County opened the scoring in the second inning on a pair of errors by the Champions. Bowers started the sequence with a wild pitch that went all the way past Balkwill. That pitch walked Jarred Mederos and allowed Jose Bizuela to advance to third. Balkwill tried to pick him off but the ball sailed over Jordan Caillouet’s head and into the outfield, which allowed Bizuela to reach home.
Mederos ended up on third on that play and scored on the next play to make it 2-0 Miners. Two batters later, Balkwill tried to pick off Gavin Stupienski at second but let Brandon Downes steal home in the process, extending their lead to 3-0.
The Champions look to get back in the win column tomorrow in the second game of the series at 7 p.m. at RCGT Park. Newly-signed pitcher Zac Westcott gets the start for Ottawa after starting the season with the Milwaukee Milkmen of the American Assocation.