Westcott whiffs eight as Champions earn critical 6-3 win over New Jersey
OTTAWA – Zac Westcott tied his season-high with eight strikeouts on Friday to earn his victory with the Ottawa Champions, a critical 6-3 win over the New Jersey Jackals.
The Champions are deadlocked with the Québec Capitales as they both chase the Rockland Boulders for the fourth and final playoff spot. Québec and Rockland both lost on Friday, with the latter mired in a three-game losing streak.
In addition to his eight strikeouts, Westcott walked one over six innings pitched and allowed just one earned run on four hits. On offense, Malik Collymore went 1-for-3 with two walks and three runs, and Steve Brown also went 1-for-3 and drove in two runs.
“It feels good,” said Westcott about finally getting his first win of the season. “I’ve had four starts up to this point; the last three I feel like I’ve thrown really well and we just haven’t gotten it done and it feels good to get that first win out of the way.”
Westcott gave his defense credit for helping him get that first win.
“I can’t speak enough to my defense today,” said Westcott. “They kept me in the ball game and they were making plays all day.”
Champions manager Sébastien Boucher was happy to see his starter finally get the run support he needed to seal the deal.
“Westcott has been really solid since he got here,” said Boucher in French. “We were finally able to give him some support and let him do what he always does, give us a quality start and we were able to keep a lead for him.”
New Jersey made it interesting, putting up two runs in the top of the eighth which made it 5-3 for Ottawa, but Steve Brown drove in Larry Balkwill in the next half inning to put the Champions back up by three.
Michael Baca made a spectacular play in the sixth inning, diving for a ball he had no business catching and throwing a bullet to get the runner at first. The play had Westcott fired up.
“It was amazing,” said Westcott. “Earlier in the game too, Baca had a tough backhand play on a short hop that’s a really tough play, and he was kind of down on himself at that point. We got 3-4-5 to start the inning and Baca comes out and makes a play like that on a hard ball up the middle, there’s nothing that fires me up more than that.”
The Champions put the Jackals in a tough spot early in the game, loading the bases with no outs in the bottom of the inning. A wild pitch from Lendy Castillo allowed Collymore to score and a walk two batters later let Adron Chambers reach home.
Ottawa would add another run later in the inning when Michael Baca hit a short grounder that didn’t get out of the infield. Jackals Richard Stock ran in from first but had nobody covering him, allowing Baca to reach and Brown to score.
Game 2 a crucial three-game series for the Champions is Saturday at 7:05 p.m. at RCGT Park.