There are good nights at the plate, there are nights that you call your parents to brag about, and then there are the kinds of games that Jacob Sanford experienced on Saturday night, as the Ottawa Titans took down the Empire State Greys 13-0. With family in the stands to take in the game, Sanford crushed two home runs and four total hits, driving in 10 runs, tying the Frontier League record for most RBIs in a single game.
“It’s pretty awesome, for sure,” Sanford said. “But I just like to get out there and win ballgames with the boys. You just want to keep winning, keep this hot streak going, and make it to the playoffs.”
“It was a pretty good game for that guy tonight,” said Titans’ manager Bobby Brown. “It comes from opportunity. In order to drive all those runs in, there had to be guys on base. From the top to the bottom, they set the table for him and he got some good pitches to hit. He’s a really talented hitter, and he took advantage of mistakes pitches and had a career night. If he did that every day, he would have 2,000 RBIs!”
Sanford was exceptionally close to hitting his third home run of the game when, in his final at-bat, he drove a ball off the left centre field wall, legging out a three-RBI triple. Had that ball gone a few extra feet, we would be talking about a new record holder, but Sanford could still joke around after tying the record.
“I gotta get a couple of extra pushups in next time,” Sanford said with a laugh.
You would think that it can’t get better than a game where you gave four hits, a walk, a triple, and two home runs, but Sanford says that this milestone only ranks second on his list of single-game performances.
“It’s probably second because I had a game in college where I had three home runs and 13 RBIs,” Sanford said. “It was an awesome feeling though.”
Though the situation that brought Sanford to Ottawa was ugly, Brown says his presence in the clubhouse has been anything but that. He has been a helping hand for the young players, and leads by example each and every day.
“Jacob is a good influence,” Brown said. “He’s the most studious guy in the dugout between innings when new pitchers are coming in, and that rubs off on guys. Young guys can see him having success from being so prepared, and it trickles down to everybody.”
Those teammates that Sanford has helped guide have also been a big part of why he himself has seen so much success in Ottawa. Coming into the locker room after everything went down, they accepted him immediately, and ever since, they have grown close.
“It’s awesome, I love these boys,” Sanford said. “There’s no cliques or anything, we’re here, we’re a team, and we’re bonding together. Whenever someone is down, we’re always there for each other.”
“It was great to just be out here in front of the big home crowd, but I was just trying to get the win. I feel like if anybody struggles, we have someone there to pick them up. We just keep grinding no matter what.”
With Sanford previously being a top 25 prospect in the New York Yankees system, it’s likely that sooner or later, someone is going to give him another chance. His presence in Ottawa is temporary, but when it ends is up for debate.
“I’m not sure,” said Brown. “He could be the whole year, or it could be tomorrow. You never know in baseball. Somebody might need a ‘AA’ hitter and could plug him in right there.”
With the win, the Titans wrap up the first quarter of the season 12 games over .500, with a record of 18-6, and on a nine-game win streak. There’s still lots to do to get into the playoffs and compete for the championship at the end of the season, but they have laid a good foundation to build on.
“It’s definitely a grind, and the guys have to get off the bus and play,” Brown said. “I don’t know how much meal money they get, but they aren’t going to Red Lobster, they’re eating McDonald’s. As we get into July and August, they are really going to have to take care of their bodies and be prepared to play 100 games.”
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