Champions Drop Tight Decision Despite Strong Start by Gil
By Mike Pattison
Photo by Drew Wohl
Ottawa, ON – A three-run seventh inning propelled the Rockland Boulders to a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Champions on Friday night. It was Ottawa's second straight loss to the Boulders and third straight overall.
Once again the Champions struggled to find any offence against a stout Boulders pitching staff, despite having a shut down performance from starter Yean Carlos Gil.
"We aren't running into any good luck right now," said Hal Lanier, the Champions manager.
It was a pitcher's duel early on as both Gil and Boulders starter Justin Topa were trading scoreless frames.
Gil threw six shutout innings for the Champions in his first start since returning from the disabled list. He struck out eight batters, only allowing three hits but was left out of the decision.
"Gil had a great performance tonight, he threw the number of pitches we figured he would throw, but we didn't want to over-extend him," said Lanier.
Boulders' starter Justin Topa (W, 11-2) was almost as good. He went seven innings while only allowing two earned runs, and picked up his league-leading 11th win of the season.
It wasn't until the fifth inning that either team was able to push a run across. After Matt Helms reached base, newly acquired Alex Venditti doubled for his first professional hit to put two runners in scoring position. Tyler Nordgren then hit an RBI groundout to put Ottawa up 1-0.
In the seventh, Ottawa doubled its lead thanks to back-to-back doubles from Danny Grauer and Matt Helms.
However, things fell apart in the bottom half of the inning when Adam Eggnatz (L, 1-2) came in to the game in relief.
After a sacrifice fly from Mike Fransoso and an RBI single from Dylan Tice, the bases were loaded for Marcus Nidiffer. Eggnatz was struggling with his command and walked Nidiffer to bring in the go-ahead run.
The Champions had a glorious opportunity to tie up the game in eighth. With the bases loaded and two outs, Matt Helms grounded out to leave the runners stranded.
"It's tough right now, we’re not going with the guys we'd like to see on the field right now, and we're going with lesser experience guys," said Lanier, referring to key injuries to Ricky Oropesa and Sebastien Boucher.
The two teams will meet for game three of the four-game set on Saturday night with first pitch scheduled for 6:30pm.