The Ottawa Titans got their dream start to the Frontier League Division Series against the Quebec Capitales on Friday night, taking the first game of the best-of-three series by a score of 3-0. The catalyst for the win was a dominant performance on the mound from lefty Tyler Jandron, with a complete game shutout, striking out four and allowing just four hits. He left Quebec hitters frazzled, unable to come up with a hit when they needed it the most.
“I have been in independent ball for a long time, and that may have been the greatest game I have ever seen pitched,” said Titans’ manager Bobby Brown. “I think the first two pitches were off, but from that point on, that was his game.”
The praise was high, both from Brown, and from the 3,252 fans in attendance, who stood the entire ninth inning, rooting their hometown Titans to the win. Jandron came up with a special performance to coincide with the team’s special night.
“I think so,” Jandron said when asked if this was his best game. “It was just about putting it all together. I talked to Zac Westcott about it last night, and it [was just putting everything together for a whole game], and keeping their hitters off-balance.”
Going up against Frontier League Pitcher of the Year Miguel Cienfuegos, Jandron didn’t let the moment get the better of him, and was able to get himself prepared as if it was just another regular season game.
“It felt like any other game,” Jandron said. “Obviously, it’s a must-win game, but every game is a must-win game from here on out. If you treat it like every other game and you have a game plan, it simplifies the game and doesn’t let the moment control you.”
Offensively, the Titans were spurred on by a big second inning, but the big names in the lineup weren’t the ones getting things done, and it was instead Titans’ Rookie of the Year winner Liam McArthur driving a two-RBI double into the outfield, giving Ottawa a 3-0 lead they wouldn’t look back from.
“I was just trying to do something with two strikes, trying to simplify everything,” McArthur said. “Kai [Moody] hit the double earlier to score the one run, and I was just trying to chip away a little bit more and get some more support.”
McArthur’s time in Ottawa has been brief this season, but he was impressive to start the campaign with the Empire State Greys, and did enough to catch Brown’s eye. He probably didn’t expect McArthur to come up with perhaps the biggest hit in the team’s biggest game so far, but you never know what’s going to happen.
“Liam [McArthur] was a thorn in our side when we played [Empire State], and I always told myself that if I ever got the chance to sign him, I was going to,” Brown said. “We made a call right before the deadline, and their front office was willing to let him go to be part of a pennant race, and it’s neat to see.”
“The guy is hitting .330 in a really good league,” Brown exclaimed. “I mean, Tony Gwynn was a .330 career hitter. To hit .330 is really going something.”
After spending most of the season on the road with the Greys, McArthur had a chance to play a big game in front of a big home crowd on Friday night, something he won’t soon forget.
“The biggest difference is having a home field,” said McArthur. “The fans were cheering us on, and that was great. They came out to support us and they really helped us stay focused.”
“It’s a really good vibe right now in the clubhouse. It’s a really good place, we’re excited to go out and play every night. Even though it’s a playoff game and some people might think it’s stressful, we’re not letting the pressure get to us.”
For Jandron, his work for the series is now likely done, after throwing 103 pitches in his nine innings of work. When he gets to Quebec for game two and three (if needed), he’s going to be the team’s cheerleader, and he says that he has no problem with that at all.
“Absolutely not,” Jandron said. “I’m going to cheer on the team. That’s what it’s all about, and we’re all in this together. Everyone gets along, there’s a bond in here, and it all starts in this clubhouse. I like cheering the guys on, sometimes more than when I’m actually pitching, so I’m going to be that cheerleader for them.”
McArthur may have spent most of the season on the road, but there has never been a bis trip he’s more excited about than this one.
“Definetly looking forward to this one, for sure,” McArthur joked.
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