New Ottawa Champion drives from New Mexico to get winning hit

When Brian Portelli signed a contract with the Ottawa Champions as their newest infielder, he expected he would get at least a day to recover from his three-day solo road trip from New Mexico. 

But things took an unexpected turn for the 25-year-old Michigan native during Tuesday night's game between his new team and the New Jersey Jackals in Ottawa. 

Just an hour after he signed his contract, Portelli was asked to play after two of his new teammates were called out on strikes and ejected after arguing with the umpire.  

"Before the game [my manager] said you probably [will] have the night off and play tomorrow," Portelli told CBC Radio's All In A Day, adding that he just arrived in Ottawa the afternoon before the game.​

"But you know, sometimes things happen, you've got to be ready."

'He's had some kind of sensational year'

Portelli's debut at-bat in the fourth inning drove in the tying and go-ahead runs in a game the Champions eventually won 3-2.

"He played first base before [and] I really did not have any other [option]," Champions manager Hal Lanier said. 

"Brian handled himself well … he's had some kind of sensational year."

Portelli joined the Champions after wrapping up his Pecos League season with the Roswell Invaders on July 26, smashing 32 home runs and earning 114 RBI in 60 games.

"I don't care where you are playing, the numbers that he put up at the Pecos League are just remarkable," Lanier said. 

Portelli admitted he's only played two games of professional first base, but did play there growing up and in college. 

"I was ready to hit, I thought that was the perfect opportunity to show that I belong," he said.

The Ottawa Champions are an independent professional baseball team based in Ottawa. 

They made their debut as a member of the Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball (Can-Am League) in 2015 and are currently in last place out of the six regular members of the league.