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Rockland Boulders drop 2 of 3 against Ottawa Champions

The Boulders dropped a series against the Ottawa Champions over the Fourth of July holiday.

Looking to extend their ten-game winning streak at Palisades Credit Union Park, the Rockland Boulders welcomed in the Ottawa Champions for a three-game series. The series marked the first time both teams’ played each other this season. Despite being under the .500 mark, the Champions were 7-3 in their last ten games.

Newly acquired pitcher Daniel Diaz took the mound for Rockland in the series opener. Ottawa displayed no mercy tagging Diaz for five runs in the first two innings. Meanwhile, Champions starting pitcher Edilson Alvarez limited the Boulders to one run on five hits over six innings. The lone bright spot for Rockland on Monday was Mike Montville, who cranked his 10th home run of the season. Looking to start a new streak, Rockland turned to Brad Schaenzer on Tuesday making his second start is less than a week. Schaenzer looked sharp on the hill going 6 2/3 innings allowing just one run and striking out three but ended up with a no-decision.

The Boulders flaunted their signature power as Cody Regis, Mikael Mogues and Montville all went yard. Nick Kennedy (4-1) spun 1 1/3 shutout innings to earn the win in relief while Kyle Hansen escaped a ninth-inning jam to register his seventh save of the year.

Rain wreaked havoc for the series finale on the 4th of July that forced a 45-minute rain delay at the onset of the game. Toeing the rubber for the Boulders was 6’9″ David Palladino. Having struck out 19 hitters in his last two starts, Palladino picked up where he left off fanning five batters in three innings.

The Boulders offense jumped right out of the gates in the first inning on RBI singles from Marcus Nidiffer, returning to the lineup after missing four games, and Conrad Gregor. In the second, Jared McDonald led off hitting his third home run of the season into the Budweiser Short Porch in right field. Rockland made it 16 home runs in their last six games while increasing their overall season total to 76.

The tide turned in the fourth inning with Steve Brown smacking a line drive comebacker that nicked off Palladino’s elbow. Palladino managed to work out of trouble with runners at first and second striking out Vincent Guglietti increasing his strikeout total to seven. Leading off the fifth, Chase Harris chopped a grounder down the first base line as Palladino raced over attempting to tag out with a dive but ended up missing Harris.

From that point on, Ottawa started chipping away at the lead. With runners on the corners, Daniel Bick hit a sharp grounder to short, but JC Rodriguez could not field the ball cleanly allowing Harris to score. Palladino lost his command of the strike zone issuing back-to-back walks forcing in another run. After striking out Brown, Palladino issued another free pass as Bick trotted across home plate for the tying run.

Manager Jamie Keefe made the call to bullpen summoning Nick Kennedy, who promptly struck out Guglietti. Ottawa starter Austin Chrismon settled down after a rough first inning, retiring the next 12 Boulders hitters in a row. In the sixth inning, the Champions executed three consecutive bunts to perfection. Kennedy (4-2) issued a walk to Bick forcing in a run followed by Sebastien Boucher groundout.

The Champions plated another run in the seventh on a run-producing single from Guglietti off Matt Kostalos. With the bases loaded and no one out, Rodriguez redeemed himself making two spectacular defensive plays on a line drive double play and ground ball. However, Mother Nature would again play a factor in the outcome of this game as heavy fog started to roll in from the outfield eventually engulfing the entire playing field forcing the game to be called with Ottawa winning 6-3.

“(Palladino) dove for that ball and made his pants soaking wet and a big kid and couldn’t get dried,” said Keefe. He was still locating his pitches, but they were moving on him. He was dominant and had no-hit stuff tonight. They put their bunt game to work, everyone absolutely perfect and that was the difference.”

“We just have to stick with it and see what we can do. We’re playing good baseball and have good starting pitching. The first time the bullpen has been hit in a long time.”

“We need to re-focus and get up to Trois-Rivieres on Friday and be ready to go. It will be nice to get out of town for a few days. We have our work cut out for us in the next 10 to 12 games and try to win every series.”

Rockland has won six straight against the Aigles having swept the last two series including last weekend at home. Currently, the Boulders (25-20) are five games behind the first place Sussex County Miners (30-15).

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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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