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The Ottawa Champions relief pitchers continue to have trouble closing games. (Ottawa Champions image)

Ottawa 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 beat Ottawa 5-4. The loss drops the Champion’s record to 12-21.

Champions starting pitcher Phillippe Aumont tossed six strong innings, allowing one run on six hits for the quality start.

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 early portion 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 (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 tonight, as they go back at it against the Boulders. Ottawa sends 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.

In other Can-Am league action, Trois-Rivieres defeated Sussex County, 7-3, Quebec edged the Dominican Republic, 4-3 and New Jersey beat the Cuban National Team, 4-3.

Inside pitch: The Champions have signed RHP Matt Tulley to a contract for the 2017 season and placed RHP Curtis Johnson on irrevocable waivers.

Tulley, 23, recently finished his senior season at the University of Massachusetts Boston where he went 8-2 with a 2.42 ERA in 13 appearances (10 starts), striking out 80 batters in 67 innings.

Johnson, 24, was signed by the Champions out of the open tryout camp in May and in six relief appearances had a 4.32 ERA with seven strikeouts and six walks in 8.1 innings pitched.

-Ottawa Champions

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