Champions pitcher Austin Chrismon delivers first pitch of the season. (Ron Patey photo)

The Ottawa Champions opened their 2017 Can-Am League season by blowing out the Trois-Rivieres Aigles 7-1 on a wild opening day at RCGT Park, which included a spectacular 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 beyond the centre-field wall during a ceremony commemorating Ottawa’s championship run. The returning Champions will receive their championship rings before tonight’s game. 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.

Trois-Rivieres Aigles Trevor Gretzky waits on a pitch from Champions Austin Chrismon. (Ron Patey photo)

Austin Chrismon (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 (0-1) 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, lightning and high winds forced a 49-minute delay of 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 home run of the season over the right field wall giving Ottawa a 1-0 lead.

Program staffer greets fans to first game of season at RCGT Park. (Ron Patey photo)

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’s hustle. After a stolen base and an error, Boucher came into score when Rusch uncorked a wild pitch.

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 ended, 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.

In other Can-Am League action, the Rockland Boulders beat the Sussex County Miners, 9-3 and the New Jersey Jackals downed the Quebec Capitales, 8-4.

The Champions and Aigles square off again tonight with first pitch scheduled for 7:05. Steve Borkowski gets the start for Ottawa.

-Ottawa Champions