by Andrew Garda
The New Jersey Jackals (30-20) dropped a rain-soaked game to the Ottawa Champions (20-29) Friday night, 11-3. The teams actually only played eight innings Friday night, wrapping up at midnight due to a league rule preventing the beginning of a new inning after the clock strikes 12. They completed the game prior to Saturday’s 6-5 loss.
The win by Ottawa was the second in a four-game series during which the Champions swept the Jackals.
Things had started off much more positively for New Jersey when pitcher David Richardson first took the mound. While he walked Ottawa leadoff hitter Daniel Bick, Champions’ shortstop was caught stealing a few pitches later. Richardson then allowed a hit to second baseman Steve Nyisztor but forced centerfielder Sebastian Boucher into a double play to end the inning.
While Richardson allowed at least one hit an inning during his time on the mound, he managed to buckle down each time and shut Ottawa down with minimal damage.
Over the course of six innings, Richardson allowed just one run on seven hits, with three walks and six strikeouts. He showed good control throughout the day, even during a last inning, when he began to look a little gassed.
Richardson got solid run support from his batters early on as well.
Right fielder Johnny Bladel has been on a tear lately, doubling in four of the his previous six games heading into the series against Ottawa, and adding another double in the first meeting of the series, a 5-2 loss Thursday night.
His two hits in four at bats were important on Friday as well, as he got third baseman Taylor Brennan into scoring position with a one-out hit in the third. Both he and Brennan would score a short time after on a two-out single by Jackals designated hitter Conrad Gregor.
Unfortunately, once Richardson left the game, the bullpen couldn’t hold the lead as the next four pitchers allowed 10 runs on 12 hits. They were not helped by the fielding either: eight errors were committed over the course of the last three innings.
By the time the game wrapped up for good Saturday afternoon, the Jackals had lost by a huge margin.
The Jackals struggled to score runs throughout the four-game series, plating just 14 runners compared to Ottawa’s 32. Many of the Champions’ runs came late in games, which points to a problematic bullpen. On the other hand, the Jackals didn’t score runs late in games — or much at all — which makes it hard to come back from a deficit of any kind.
While the outcome of the series was disappointing for a team just two games behind the second-place Quebec Capitales and five games behind the league-leading Rockland Boulders, the Jackals have a month and a half to catch both teams and they get a shot at Rockland on the road this coming weekend. First, though, they will be in Quebec to take on Trois-Rivières Aigles.
Prior to the series against Ottawa, the Jackals had won six games in a row and now aim to get back on a good streak again.