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Boulders drop 2 of 3 against Fargo-Moorhead

Winners of 4 out of 5 and having 39 runs during that span, the Rockland Boulders had the momentum clearly on their side but that quickly changed against the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks at Provident Bank Park as the RedHawks swiped 2 out of the 3 games.

In the series opener, Fargo-Moorhead wasted little time getting on the scoreboard hanging a 7 spot in the first inning. Rockland starting pitcher Nathaniel Roe did not even make it out of the inning getting tagged for 7 runs on only three hits while walking three. However, the Boulders did not fold up the tent as they struck back for 5 runs in the bottom half of the frame highlighted by Charlie Law’s 7th homer of the season, a 3-run blast over the left field wall.

The RedHawks added a run in the 2nd and blew the game wide open in the 3rd plating four more runs to increase their advantage to 12-5. By the 5th inning rolled around the margin grew even larger to 18-5. Stefen Henderson, who normally plays right field came into pitch the 9th and tossed a scoreless inning.

“Nathaniel was up in the zone and could not locate the strikes,” said Manager Jamie Keefe. “They scored 18 runs without hitting a home run which does not happen that much” added Keefe. “We play 100 games and these game happen”

Fast forward 24 hours and in game 2 Rockland jumped out in the lead in the 1st inning as Marcus Nidiffer belted a bases-loaded ground rule double into the right center gap. Charlie Law followed bouncing a high chopper to RedHawks third baseman Taylor Oldhham who booted the ball allowing Joe Maloney to cross home plate for the third run of the inning.

“A huge bounce back win and Harrold was in complete control from the first pitch and hitter on,” said Manager Jamie Keefe. “We swung the bat and everybody in the lineup contributed tonight,” added Keefe. “Taking extra bases when we had the opportunity was huge tonight”

The Boulders would add to their lead in the 3rd featuring 3 doubles. Stephen Cardullo led off the inning smacking a drive down the left field line and turned on the jet burners sliding in safely at 2nd. Joe Maloney followed fisting a double down in the exact spot scoring Cardullo. Steve Nyisztor stepped up and drove a double down the third base line scoring Maloney extending the lead to 5-0.

Rockland’s starting pitcher Stephen Harrold lone blemish of the night was a Ryan Pineda solo homer into the right-field bleachers in the 5th putting Fargo-Moorhead on the board. The Boulders answered back in the bottom half of the frame with Stephen Cardullo laying a perfect squeeze bunt single down the third base line scoring Junior Arrojo. In the top 5th, Cardullo flashed the leather running down a fly ball down the left field line off the bat of Oldham making a terrific diving catch. Rockland added 3 more runs between the 5th and 7th pushing the advantage to 9-1.

The RedHawks refused to go away quietly scoring 4 times in the 8th capped off by a 2-run moonshot into the Short Porch Area in right field by Joe Dunigan. Luis Sanz came in and shut the doors down pitching a scoreless ninth to preserve the victory. Stephen Harrold earned his 6th win of the season going 7 innings yielding one run on five hits while walking two and striking out two.

“Last night was rough and I just wanted to go out and set the tone early” said Stephen Harrold. “I just wanted to let the defense work and work quick innings by getting ahead and throwing strikes,” added Harrold. “The hitters picked me up scoring three in the first”

In the rubber match of the series, Fargo-Moorhead seized upon an early scoring opportunity as Drew Muren walloped a bases-loaded double off the base of the center field wall in the Top 2nd. The Boulders managed to cut the deficit to 3-1 in the 4th on a long deep sac fly to the edge of left field wall from Marcus Nidiffer.

The RedHawks went back up by three runs in the 5th on a 2-out single into right field from Joe Staley. Rockland starting pitcher Bo Budkevics managed to limit the damage with runners on 1st and 3rd with 2 outs striking out Connor Andrus to end the inning.

Joe Maloney led off the 8th inning smoking his 8th homer of the year on to the concourse in left field. The Boulders loaded up the bases and Alex DeBellis hit into a 6-4-3 double play but Marcus Nidiffer crossed the plate making it a one run game. However, with runners on 1st and 2nd with 2 outs, Giuseppe Papaccio grounded out ending the frame.

Joe Staley added a key insurance run for Fargo-Moorhead in the 9th blasting a mammoth shot off Chad Robinson onto the top of the awning in the Short Porch area in right field. Maloney closed out the Top 9th with possibly the catch of the year in the Can-Am League on a long drive off the bat of Zach Penprase sprinting backwards making a acrobatic overhand catch while falling flat onto the ground. Redhawks closer Mike Nesseth worked an easy ninth striking out the side to close out the game.

“We just got to stay with it and keep on swinging the bats” said Manager Jamie Keefe. “We had our chances with the tying and go-ahead runs in the 8th” added Keefe.

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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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