May 19, 2017 - Canadian American League (Can-Am) - Ottawa Champions
May 18, 2017, Ottawa, ON - The Ottawa Champions defeated the Trois-Rivieres Aigles 7-1 on a wild opening day at RCGT Park, which included a long rain delay.
Prior to the game Miles Wolff, Champions majority owner, presented the 2016 Can-Am League Championship banner to the returning players from last year's team. The banner was raised out in centre field during a ceremony commemorating Ottawa's championship run. The returning Champions will receive their championship rings before game two on Friday night.
Mayor Jim Watson was also on-hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game.
Ottawa had an impressive record of 11-6 against Trois-Rivieres last season and were also 2-0 all-time in opening day games coming into Thursday night.
Austin Chrismon (W, 1-0), the reigning Can-Am League Pitcher of the Year, took the mound for the Champions and was strong all game long. He threw seven innings allowing no earned runs on eight hits in his first start of the campaign.
"He had a superb, gutsy outing after that long rain delay," said Champions manager Hal Lanier.
Aigles starter Matthew Rusch (L, 0-1) was solid despite the loss. He gave up three earned runs on seven hits, while striking out eight Champions in his five innings of work.
During the bottom of third, home plate umpire Mike Boulianne suspended play. Heavy rain and scattered lightning forced a 49-minute delay in the game.
When play resumed the Champions struck for their first run of the season just two batters after the delay. Adron Chambers ripped his first homerun of the season over the right field wall giving Ottawa a 1-0 lead.
"It was just a good swing to a good pitch," said Chambers on his homerun. "[Rusch] was leaving a lot of pitches up today and we took advantage."
Three doubles in the bottom of the fourth would put Ottawa up 3-0. Gustavo Pierre and Danny Grauer each drove in their first RBI of the season.
Ottawa would tally another run in the fifth inning thanks to Sebastien Boucher. After a stolen base and an error, Boucher came into score when Aigles' starter Matthew Rusch uncorked a wild pitch.
For Hal Lanier, base running will be a key to his team's success this season.
"We're going to be a very aggressive ball club. We've got some guys that can run and they're going to make it an exciting game and the fans will enjoy it."
The Aigles responded with a run on a sacrifice fly to shrink the deficit 4-1.
Things got interesting in the sixth for Ottawa. With two men in scoring position and two outs, Daniel Bick hit a single up the middle to drive in both runs. However, as Bick was attempting to take second base, Aigles' catcher Kyle Lafrenz overthrew his second baseman and Bick came all the way around to score on the error.
When the chaos settled the Champions had a 7-1 lead and never looked back.
Gustavo Pierre stood out offensively for the Champions with a couple of doubles, an RBI as well as two runs scored.
The Champions and Aigles will square off again on Friday with first pitch scheduled for 7:05pm. Steve Borkowski is set to make his first start of the regular season for Ottawa.