After a quick road trip to Quebec over the weekend that resulted in a loss to the Quebec Capitales, and a win over the Trois-Rivières Aigles, the Ottawa Titans returned to RCGT Park for their lone home preseason game, against the Aigles. In front of a crowd hungry to see baseball make its much-awaited return to the nation’s capital, the Titans downed the Aigles, thanks to a large eighth inning, by a score of 5-3.
“It’s always good for the fans to see that our team is going to play hard,” said Bobby Brown, the Titans’ manager. “Early in spring training, building up a winning atmosphere is important. Some people say that spring training doesn’t matter, but it does. The team gets used to winning, so I’m really proud of my group today.”
The Titans sent Jack Alkire to the mound for the first inning, and immediately, he walked the Aigles’ leadoff hitter. It didn’t take long for the Aigles to make their mark on the game, as Joe Campagna blasted a two-run shot deep to left-field, giving his side the early lead. Despite the brought start to the game, Alkire settled in, and gave the Titans three really good innings, limiting the damage to just two runs.
“The book on a lot of starting pitchers is if you’re going to get them, get them in the first inning,” Brown said. “Alkire maybe that way, we’re trying to learn these guys. As a coaching staff, we would like to see them get it going a little quicker so you’re not in a hole like we were tonight, but he settled in and was good.”
Even though RCGT Park is known for being a notoriously difficult place to hit home runs, the Titans responded with a blast of their own. In the bottom of the second inning, AJ Wright stepped up with the bases empty, and sent one just over the wall in left-field, bringing the Titans within a single run.
“The first pitch was on the inner third of the plate, and I was kind of expecting him to come back in there,” said Wright. “I was waiting for it, I put a good swing on it, and luckily, it went out. It felt good, but I didn’t think it was going to be high enough to get out. It felt good, right on the sweet spot.”
“I’m not typically a power hitter, either,” he said. “I got one up into the breeze that was going out towards left, and it carried it out.”
That 2-1 scoreline would remain intact until the bottom of the seventh, when Brendon Dadson struck a double into the gap, cashing in a run for the Titans. The game would remain tied, largely thanks to a quick side from Neil Lang, and in the bottom of the eighth inning, the wheels fell off the Aigles bus.
Alex MacKinnon came into the game for Trois-Rivières, and immediately, he was wild. He walked the leadoff man, and as the inning continued, launched three wild pitches, scoring three runs for the Titans in the inning. Ottawa took control of the game, and wouldn’t look back.
“It’s kind of crazy when all of that stuff happens,” Wright said. “All the passed balls and the walks, but you still have to be patient as hitters, and get your pitch. Luckily, we were able to put some runs together.”
“They gave us a couple of gifts, but those guys had to get on base first to put them in a pressure spot,” Brown said.
The past three games have been the first cracks at some real game time for the Titans, and it should prove valuable with a short spring training, and the regular season just around the corner. But it has also been fun for the team to hit the field and play some games.
“It’s exciting for the games to finally mean something,” Wright said. “We’ve been facing each other in inter squads, and it’s always good to play games that mean something on the scoreboard.”
Playing the game they love, with passionate fans in the stands, the Titans and their players are ready to get things rolling.
“It’s good,” said Wright. “We’ve been practicing here for the last few weeks and it was good to get some fans out there. It’s honestly just good to be playing in front of anyone, wherever it is. It’s a good time to be an Ottawa Titan.”
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