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                                                                                        Photo Credit: Drew Wohl

Returning to Palisades Credit Union Park after almost two weeks, Rockland Boulders Jamie Keefe was happy to put the home uniform on again and get back in front of the fans. “Always special to play at home and first playoff game of the year and doesn’t get any better than that and excited to lock it up but they have played really well here” “At the end of the day ready to go out and we figured out what we have to do against these guys and just perform”

Keefe echoed concern due to New Jersey starter Lee Sosa success against Rockland this season and Jackals winning 7 out of 10 games at Palisades Credit Union Park during the regular season. “We have to work to counts and get to their bullpen” “We don’t want to get to game four and take care of it in front of our fans and be ready to move on” “We have been before here up 2-0 and a lot of those guys in the clubhouse know what that feeling is like and nothing worse”

In the first two games, the Boulders jumped out to the early advantage. However, that would change in game three as the Jackals were able to work deep counts and in third inning had runners on the corner and two outs when Adam Martin hit a slow grounder to Mike Fransoso, attempting to go to second for the force threw the ball past second baseman Dylan Tice allowing Joe Dunigan to come into score.

Sharp on the mound, Sosa held Rockland in check for the first five innings allowing only hit to Mikael Mogues in the third inning and fanning five. Equally up to the task was starter Markus Solbach yielding just one run and matching Sosa’s strikeout total. Sosa would not last beyond the fifth inning due to a bizarre play on a broken bat comebacker to the mound by Daniel Arribas, with Arribas running up the first base line Sosa charged at Arribas colliding into him forcing Sosa out of the game with an undisclosed injury.

Solbach exited in the sixth inning after tossing 100 pitches and allowing lead off double to Art Charles. Limited to just one run in the first two games of the series, the Jackals bats awakened with Dunigan clubbing the fourth double of the night for New Jersey off the top of the left center wall against C.J. Riefenhouser. Keefe called upon Nick Sarianides with Dunigan at third after a steal. Sarianides uncorked a wild pitch allowing Dunigan to come across home plate.

Down 4-0 in the eighth inning, Rockland managed to cook up a scoring opportunity off New Jersey reliever Jose Jose who walked two of the first three batters he faced. The Boulders caught a break as Mike Fransoso reached on an error by second baseman Rylan Sandoval. Dylan Tice stepped up and delivered the first run of the game for Rockland lifting a sac fly to left field. Keeping the inning alive, Joe Maloney drew a walk off Nate Gercken but Gercken recovered inducing Marcus Nidiffer into popping out to Martin behind home plate.

Held homer-less the first two games, New Jersey ended that streak in the ninth. Art Charles swatted a two-run laser off Rockland reliever Jon Velasquez on to the concourse in right field. Following Charles, Brian Burgamy slugged a solo shot into the right center field grand stand.

“It looked like a blowout tonight but we were in that game” Keefe said. “We go into the 8th with an opportunity to peck away a bit and what are you going to do, we got down and Sosa threw the ball well and kept us off balance” “It’s not about who gets on board but what you do the first couple of innings to get something going”

With the Boulders holding a 2-1 lead, Game 4 of the series takes place at Palisades Credit Union Park on Sunday afternoon at 5:00 p.m.

“It’s a five game series and can’t hang our heads and think about it,” said Keefe. “We have to go into it tomorrow full throttle again”

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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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