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Boulders Are Winners of Five Straight

(Photo by Grant Kelly - Double G Media)

(Photo by Grant Kelly – Double G Media)


Off the heels of a dramatic 9-8 come-from-behind victory last Thursday at Palisades Credit Union Park and sporting a 31-21 record, the Rockland Boulders traveled up to Canada facing off against the Ottawa Champions at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton Park in a three-game series.

“We’re in a situation where we are really playing good baseball right now no matter who we are playing,” Manager Jamie Keefe said. “If we play our game we’ll be in it and have we have to give ourselves an opportunity to play our style of baseball and finally found out what style is that is in taking extra bases and putting pressure on the other team.”

In game one of the series, Rockland grabbed an early lead in the first inning on a RBI single from Mike Montville and sac fly by Devin Harris. Elvin Soto tacked on a sac fly in the fourth.

Rookie pitcher Mike Adams tossed a brilliant outing going six innings yielding one run on five hits while striking out one and walking six earning his third win. Adams turned the ball over to the duo of Edgar Valle and Hector Nelo who preserved the victory allowing just one hit. Nelo registered his 10th save of the season.

Mike was going to have to throw 115 or 120 pitches no matter what and took that pressure and threw the ball as well as he has all season and did a great job for us,” said Jamie Keefe.

Game two of the series followed a familiar script with Rockland jumping ahead in the first inning on a two-run single by Devin Harris and Junior Arrojo sac fly. Boulders starter Richard Salazar dominated for seven innings marked by just one blemish that was a solo home run off the bat of Ottawa centerfielder Sebastien Boucher in the fourth inning.

Daniel Carela came into pitch in the eighth where the Champions tagged Carela for two runs tying the game up at 3-3. However, Carela recovered facing a bases-loaded situation getting Albert Cartwright to ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.

The game would go to extra innings where Mike Fransoso made a difference on the base paths. After grounding into a fielder’s choice, Fransoso swiped second base and advanced to third after the throw from Daniel Grauer sailed into center field. Mike Montvile strode to the plate and delivered in the clutch hammering a comebacker back up the middle as Fransoso scored the go-ahead run. In the bottom half of the frame, Pat Butler closed the door inducing Alexander Malleta into a 1-6-3 double play notching his first victory of the season.

“We’re getting a lot of production down in the lineup and happy for Devin and Montville has had a good couple of weeks,” said Keefe. “We had good at bats and continue to battle at the plate. To see Pat get an opportunity to close out a game and do it on a double plays builds up some confidence for all of us.”

Making his second start in the rubber match of the series, Jason Byers stepped in and delivered hurling six innings while surrendering two runs, one of them earned on three hits, striking out one and walking four to earn his first professional win and in a Boulders uniform.

Byers was the beneficiary of early run support as the red-hot Devin Harris drove in his 11th RBI in the last five games with a two-run double in the second inning. Jared Schlehuber kicked the lead to three with a sac fly and Mike Fransoso added an RBI single.

Meanwhile, Junior Arrojo sparkled with some bold base running scoring twice on shallow pop outs in the fifth and sixth innings. Arrojo also extended his on base streak to 73 games that is three shy of tying teammate Jared McDonald. Byers handed the baton off to Edgar Valle who surrendered two runs in the eighth.

Valle regrouped as the Champions had runners on first and second with two outs getting Michael Mastroberti to ground out to second. In the ninth, Valle worked a perfect ninth to record his third save of the season.

“Jason actually controlled the whole game and pitched better than we expected,” said Keefe. “That’s what we are looking from a young kid and go out there and give that bullpen a chance late in the game. Anytime you can score three times when the ball doesn’t leave the infield we’ll take that. We’re doing a lot of small things and this is where I hoped to be to get all year and hopefully can catch our stride.”

“Talk about being blessed as a manager and to have both guys (Jared McDonald) and (Junior Arrojo) chasing a record is incredible, like that back-to-back and at the same time is unreal. These are two leaders on the team and guys look at them for answers and have been doing it all year.”

Winners of five in a row, Rockland’s record stands at 34-21 and half-game behind the Quebec Capitales for first place in the Can-Am League standings. On Tuesday, the Boulders start a three-game series at the Sussex County Miners.

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Since July of 2014 Sunil Sunder Raj has been with In The Zone. Sunil has experience covering minor league baseball, high school and college sports. A beat writer for the Rockland Boulders for six years, Ramapo College men’s basketball for four years, NJIT men’s basketball and Seton Hall women’s basketball. Now focusing on feature articles about athletes, coaches and sports media professionals. A graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.
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