2023 Quebec Capitales vs Evansville Otters

Le Québec est Magnifique Again With Repeat Frontier League Title

Le Québec est Magnifique Again With Repeat Frontier League Title

Here’s a look back at the Frontier League Championship Series, in which the Quebec Capitales took down the Evansville Otters 3-2 back-to-back titles.

Sep 18, 2023 by Briar Napier

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Baseball-mad Quebec, forced to fill a major professional void in the sport without the Montreal Expos in the province since 2004, has a powerhouse ball club that it can call its own.

And if the Quebec Capitales keep on doing what they’ve been doing across the past few seasons since joining the Frontier League, good luck expecting their run of dominance to end anytime soon.

The East Division’s regular season winner, holders of the league’s joint-best 2023 regular season record, and the reigning league champions lived up to their lofty standards by making it back-to-back Frontier titles this past weekend in their first two seasons as a standalone, playing ballclub in the league — an immediate run of success not ever seen previously in the league’s history.

History with a first-ever Frontier three-peat is now the mission for the Capitales in 2024, but in previous leagues before joining prior to the (planned) 2020 season, Quebec had already achieved that feat — and then some. 

The championship resides in Quebec for the time being. C’est la vie in the Frontier League.

Here’s a look back at the Frontier League Championship Series, in which the Quebec Capitales took down the Evansville Otters 3-2 to secure the Canadian team’s second consecutive Frontier title:

Capitales Reign Supreme

Since the Can-Am League and Frontier merged after the 2019 season, no team has been better from top to bottom across the schedule than Quebec (a Can-Am League addition) as it’s been joint holder of the league’s best regular season record in both 2022 and 2023. And just like the Capitales did in 2022, they ended this year’s Frontier playoffs holding a trophy and sitting atop the league’s totem pole. 

This year’s title, the team’s ninth across all independent leagues since 2006, didn’t come easy; with Quebec threatening to sweep up 2-0 in the five-game Championship Series, Evansville stormed back to tie the series at 2-2 and threatened a winner-take-all Game 5 for all of the marbles. But as a club that’s played for a title so often in its history — and has won it while it’s been there, more often than not — the situation was nothing that the Capitales hadn’t been faced with before or needed to be scared of. 

Forced to play Game 5 on the road Sunday, Quebec responded to the challenge by going out to a 6-0 lead through three innings in the decider and holding on for the rest of the way in a convincing 12-3 series clincher, with David Glaude and Tommy Seidl each hitting home runs to help build a lead that the Capitales were never in real danger of giving up. 

On the mound, Quebec starter Abdiel Saldana went five innings and was brilliant, striking out eight and allowing just three hits with two earned runs as the bullpen backing him up completely shut down the Otters’ offense (with just one hit allowed the rest of the way between three pitchers) upon his exit from the game. 

And when reliever Frank Moscatiello picked up a final strikeout in the ninth inning to officially clinch the title for Quebec and send his team into hysterics, the mission of being the first Frontier League team to win back-to-back titles since the Schaumburg Boomers in 2013 and 2014 was officially complete. 

Otters’ Rally Falls Short

Though the Capitales’ second straight Frontier championship seemed awfully predictable for much of the season, respect must be paid to the Evansville Otters for giving Quebec a huge fight to get there and pulling off a remarkable playoff run of their own. 

The No. 3 seed in the West Division at the end of the regular season, Evansville had the worst record (52-44) of any team that qualified for the Frontier’s postseason, meaning that it had to play in and win a single-game Wild Card round on the road against the second-seeded Boomers to even get a chance at playing in the Divisional Series. 

Sure enough, the Otters — the Frontier’s longest continuously-operating ballclub, in terms of teams who have been solely with the league for the longest time — beat Schaumburg by a narrow 4-3 margin in the Wild Card to advance and face the top-seeded Gateway Grizzlies; from that point forward, it seemed as if Evansville only got better when its backs were against the wall. A three-game dogfight with the Grizzlies saw the Otters win 9-7 to win the Divisional Series and move on to face mighty Quebec, where Evansville quickly found itself down in a 2-0 hole and at risk of a sweep after a pair of 7-6 defeats in Games 1 and 2 on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. 

A never-say-die attitude quickly arrived, however, and with a dominant 14-5 victory in Game 3 and a slim 3-2 win in Game 4, it was the Otters that instead had the Capitales on the ropes and forced to respond when Sunday’s Frontier season finale arrived for the title. Evansville ultimately came up short of its third Frontier League championship, but hats off to the Otters, anyway — on paper entering the playoffs, few would’ve expected them to be just one win away from winning it all.

Beginning of a Dynasty?

No team in the 30-year history of the Frontier League has ever pulled off a three-peat, though if there was any club in the league that’d have the best infrastructure and enough talent to pull it off, it’s Quebec — and it’s now two-thirds of the way there. 

As mentioned previously, Quebec has been winning league titles in indy ball for a while now; in the Can-Am League’s 14-year history from 2005-19, the Capitales won half of the league’s titles (seven) and had one of the best runs in indy ball history from 2009-13, winning five straight Can-Am championships. 

When the team got to the Frontier, the success only continued. The Capitales won it all in their first season as a standalone ballclub in 2022, having been forced to sit out 2020 with the rest of the league due to COVID-19 along with being part of a Canada-based traveling team for 2021 (with the Ottawa Titans and Trois-Rivieres Aigles) due to continued U.S.-Canada border travel issues throughout the summer as the pandemic continued. 

The most impressive part of Quebec’s two titles, however, was arguably how quickly and efficiently the team managed to reload after the 2022 championship. Five players had over 50 RBIs including rookie Justin Gideon — who had a fantastic first season of indy ball with 22 homers, 71 RBIs, and an .879 OPS — and offseason addition Juremi Profar (the brother of San Diego Padres outfielder Jurickson Profar), who was a Frontier All-Star at first base and led the team in hits, reaching triple digits (100) across 93 games played. And as for the pitching staff, fellow new signees Ruben Ramirez and Steven Fuentes were each nine-game winners while Moscatiello — a three-year vet of Quebec — was shifted to the closer role for the first time and thrived, finishing as the Frontier’s saves leader with 20. 

The retooling and quick gelling of the Capitales’ squad was a major reason why they were able to storm to another joint-best record in the Frontier and nab another league title. If similar occurs in 2024, it’s difficult to see at the moment how any stops the Quebec freight train from an unprecedented third Frontier title in a row.