Pierre's 4-RBI Night Propels Champions over Jackals
By Mike Pattison
Photo: Marc Lafleur
Ottawa, ON – The Ottawa Champions defeated the New Jersey Jackals 5-2 in the series opener on Thursday night.
It was the first game in Yogi Berra Stadium this season for the Champions who had to travel from Quebec to New Jersey, arriving at 8am.
Despite arriving so late Champions manager, Hal Lanier had high praise for his team: "I really have to congratulate the ball club for coming out and playing hard."
The outcome of the game was decided in the seventh inning as some clutch hitting from the Champions propelled them to a victory.
It began with an RBI single from Matt Helms that scored the recently returned Tyson Gillies. Then, Gustavo Pierre launched a massive homerun into the trees for a two-run shot.
The three run inning was the difference in the ballgame, and Pierre was the hero for the Champions, as his four RBI performance led the Champions to their first win of the road trip.
"He had a big, big night. He had the two-run homerun and hit a clutch base hit in the ninth," said Lanier. "He really played a good ballgame today."
It was a low-scoring affair early on as both starting pitchers were able to get through each inning without much damage taken.
Steve Borkowski (W, 4-5) pitched a solid game for the Champions as he lasted six innings while only surrendering two earned runs. The quality start was enough for him to pick up the win.
"Steve really pitched well tonight, he had his good stuff and he got us through the innings that he pitched," said Lanier.
Lee Sosa (L, 4-2) was very strong for the Jackals until that seventh inning. He went 6.2 innings, giving up four earned runs on eight hits. Despite that line, he was more effective than his stats presented.
The Jackals got on the board in the second thanks to a sacrifice fly from D'vontrey Richardson that scored Brian Burgamy.
It wouldn't be until the fifth inning for the Champions to finally break through. Gustavo Pierre connected for his first RBI of the night with a double that scored Champions' All-Star Danny Grauer.
However, the Jackals were quick to respond in the bottom half of the inning with yet another sacrifice fly. With that, it was 2-1 for New Jersey after five.
After a scoreless sixth, the Jackals ran into trouble in the seventh and fell behind the Champions 4-2.
The Champions added on to their lead in the ninth. With the bases loaded, who else but Gustavo Pierre hit an RBI single to score one,
Raydel Sanchez was lights out in relief as he went three scoreless innings to pick up his fifth save of the year. He ran into trouble in the ninth as the Jackals loaded the bases but he struck out Rylan Sandoval to escape the jam and end the ballgame.
"He pitched a solid three innings for us tonight. The strike zone got a little tight in the ninth but he was able to get out of it," said Lanier on Sanchez's performance.
The two teams will square off again on Friday night with first pitch scheduled for 7:05pm.
Tickets for the 2017 regular season and Can-Am League vs. American Association All-Star Game are currently on sale and can be purchased online at www.ottawachampions.com or in person at the RCGT Park box office.