McDonald’s Walk-Off Blast Hands Champions Deflating Loss
By Mike Nellis
Photo: Marc Lafleur
Ottawa, ON – Champions manager Hal Lanier will have to wait another day for his 900th win as an independent league skipper.
A walk-off home run from Jared McDonald completed the comeback for the Rockland Boulders Thursday night. After trailing 4-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning, they put up four runs to hand the Ottawa Champions their second straight loss.
The performance drops Ottawa’s record to 12-21 after starting pitcher Phillippe Aumont tossed six strong innings, allowing one run on six hits for the quality start.
“We wasted a brilliant pitching performance from Phil,” said Lanier after the game. “Clutch hitting, good baseball – and we can’t get four outs with a three-run lead. It’s very disappointing.”
Lanier said pitchers coming out of the bullpen aren’t doing their job, and that’s what is contributing to losses.
“I don’t know what these guys are trying to do out there,” he said. “It’s really a shame that we’re losing ballgames with starts like that.”
The start of the game had the Champions scoring the majority of the runs. Tyson Gillies continued his torrid pace, getting on base with a single to lead off the game and scoring on an RBI fielder’s choice to make it 1-0 Champions.
Tyler Nordgren was next to get on the board, ripping an RBI double into left field. Danny Grauer turned on the jets and crossed the plate all the way from first base to extend Ottawa’s lead to two.
After taking a 4-1 lead into the eighth inning, relief pitcher Raydel Sanchez allowed a solo home run to Joe Maloney, giving the slugger 12 bombs on the 2017 campaign.
Joe Smith then tied the game, smoking a two-run double to deep centre field. McDonald’s leadoff homer in the ninth off Victor Beriguete (L, 0-4) sealed the deal for Rockland, earning manager Jamie Keefe his 700th career win.
The Champions will attempt to get back on the right foot tomorrow night, as they go back at it in Pomony, NY against the Boulders. They send Austin Chrismon (3-2, 5.65 ERA) to the hill, as the reigning pitcher of the year goes for his third straight win.
First pitch will be at 7 p.m.