Ottawa’s Gustavo Pierre homered and drove in four runs for the Champions last night. (Ron Patey file photo)

The Ottawa Champions shook off the bus lag from the Quebec City to New Jersey overnight trip to defeat the New Jersey Jackals 5-2 in their series opener last night.

It was the first game in Yogi Berra Stadium this season for the Champions who arrived at 8 a.m.

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 home run 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.

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.

Lee Sosa (L, 4-2) was effective 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. 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.

The Champions added on to their lead in the ninth. With the bases loaded, who else but 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.

The two teams will square off again tonight with first pitch scheduled for 7:05.

In other Can-Am League action, Rockland blanked Sussex County 5-0 and Trois-Rivieres got past Quebec 6-4.

Inside pitches:

  • The Champions have activated OF Tyson Gillies from the disabled and placed LHP Yean Carlos Gil on the disabled list.
  • The Champions have signed RHP Jared Price to a contract and released RHP Andrew Cooper. Cooper, 24, is expected to miss the rest of the season after being admitted to hospital on Sunday due to perimyocarditis brought on by pneumonia. The Belle River, ON, native has been told to rest for at least a month before resuming baseball activities. He had a 4.58 ERA with 13 strikeouts and eight walks in 17.2 innings pitched over 13 appearances in his second season with Ottawa.

-Ottawa Champions