Locked in a 5-5 deadlock with the Sussex County Miners, the Ottawa Titans stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning needing just one run to hold onto second place for another day. With two outs and runners on first and second, Clay Fisher came up to the dish, and punched double down the right-field line, walking the game off for the second time in as many weeks.
“Those are the situations where you have to just tell yourself that you want to be there,” Fisher said. “I have played this game for so long, and there are so many rollercoasters in this game, the ups and downs, and there have been plenty of downs this year, so it’s nice to get rewarded.”
“Clay is a professional,” Titans’ manager Bobby Brown said. “He was with me all of last year, and I have had him for each of the last two years. He’s not my son, but I feel like he is sometimes, so I’m really happy to see him do that. He’s pretty dedicated to the game, and I love to see him have success.”
Fisher, who is now batting .263 with five home runs and 33 RBIs, has seen his production at the place explode since coming back from a dislocated kneecap that kept him out of the Titans’ lineup for about a month. The key to his success, he says, has been about slowing the game down and sticking to his process.
“I just dug myself in a hole early in the season,” Fisher said. “Last year, I had one of my best offensive seasons ever, and I think when I started struggling early this season, I started to panic a little. When I was hurt, I was working on my swing and trying to get back to the basics of what I was doing, and you just have to roll with it, even if you’re not successful that day.”
While the rest of the East Division has been heating up in July and early August, the Titans have been holding on for dear life, and Wednesday’s game was the embodiment of that. Sussex County had climbed level with the Titans in the standings, and Ottawa’s win allows them to hold onto the place, critical for playoff seeding.
“Great win,” Brown said. “We needed it. That’s a great club over there with Sussex County. They came in here and won some really close games a month ago and swept us, and they won a tight game on Tuesday, and just for the morale of our club moving forward, I’m probably not showing it, but I’m just overjoyed right now.”
“I think it was a big swing for the boys,” Fisher said. “We have been struggling and playing a lot of close games lately, and they just tied for second place with us on Tuesday. It’s a big win, and hopefully, it’s a momentum swing too.”
“Our past couple games, the offence has been kind of stale,” Fisher admitted. “We haven’t been scoring a lot of runs, and to string some hits together, that’s what we did tonight. I think that was the key. We need to start doing that more and hopefully get into a groove.”
Although the record in the past 10 games (5-5) may not reflect it, the Titans have been playing better baseball as of late, and are starting to get back to where they were during their dominant stretch earlier in the season.
“Slowly,” Fisher said. “I don’t think we’re quite there yet and we have to keep working and come out here every day and grind. But I think slowly, the boys are getting back to how we were playing in the first half.”
With 71 games in the books and now just 25 games to play, the standings have grown ever tighter. The Titans are within five games of the Trois-Rivières Aigles who are all the way down in sixth in the East Division currently, but they are also within three games of the Quebec Capitales in first, who have come crashing back down to earth, losing their past eight games. The team knows this, and they aren’t prepared to shy away from the challenge.
“Oh, we watch them,” Brown said emphatically. “Once you get into August, you watch the standings.”
“We have to show up every day with some fight,” Fisher said. “The end of the season is creeping up, and our whole division is in the race. We have to keep our foot on the gas.”
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