Tyson Gillies cracked a grand slam homer last night to give the Champions the victory. (Ron Patey file photo)

The rampaging Ottawa Champions used a seven-run ninth inning comeback to defeat the New Jersey Jackals 12-8 last night and move a game and a half ahead of Sussex County in the race for the league’s final playoff spot.

With the bases loaded in the ninth and the Champions trailing by three, Steve Nyisztor cracked a three-RBI double that tied the game. The team rallied to load the bases for the second time in the inning. Tyson Gillies then drove them all home with a grand slam over the left field wall to hand the Champions their 13th victory in 15 games.

Matt Tulley struggled during his first start since being named Pitcher of the Week. He went four innings giving up six earned on seven hits. Jackals starter Andres Caceras, on the other hand, went six innings, allowing one earned run. He walked six batters but he was able to get out each situation unharmed.

Things started off well for the Champions who opened the scoring on an RBI single from Gillies. However, they loaded the bases but could not capitalize leaving them stranded.

The Jackals wasted no time tying up the game as Brian Burgamy doubled into the gap scoring a run.

New Jersey began to break the game open in the second when yet another double drove in more runs for the Jackals. Rylan Sandoval‘s double scored both Johnny Bladel and Max Casper to make it 3-1 after two innings.

The Champions had another chance with the bases loaded in the top half of the third but Tyler Nordgren grounded into the inning ending fielder’s choice to halt any momentum that they had.

New Jersey made sure to capitalize off Ottawa’s missed opportunities as in the fourth inning when Conrad Gregor hit his 12th homer of the year. The ball just squeaked over the short left field wall for a three run shot and gave the Jackals a commanding 6-1 lead.

Ottawa was able to muster up some offense in the sixth as a costly Jackals error resulted in two runs. With Gillies on second, Gustavo Pierre chopped one back to Caceras who overthrew the third baseman.

Gillies came into score and Pierre hustled his way all the way to third. He eventually scored on a ground ball off the bat of Nordgren.

The Jackals responded with Burgamy driving in his second run of the game in the bottom half of the sixth to make the score 7-3.

A late push from the Champions made things interesting. They once again loaded the bases but Sebastien Boucher hit into a double play scoring a run. Later, after another run scored on a wild pitch, the Champions loaded the bases for Pierre. However, he grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the rally.

It was 7-5 after eight innings.

Burgamy launched a solo homer in the eighth to increase their lead to three before the Champions completed the comeback.

The two teams will wrap up their three game series this afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 2:05 as the Champions look for the series sweep.

Tickets for the 2017 regular season and Can-Am League vs. American Association All-Star Game can be purchased online at www.ottawachampions.com or in person at the RCGT Park box office.

In other Can-Am League action, Quebec trounced Sussex Country 10-1 and Trois-Rivieres beat Rockland 4-1.

-Ottawa Champions