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Boulders Drop Series to Quebec



The Rockland Boulders opened up a 7-game home stand at Palisades Credit Union Park dropping two of three games against the Quebec Capitales. Yesterday’s game was postponed due to rain. However, that could not overshadow history being made in game 1 of the series with centerfielder Jared McDonald breaking the all-time minor-league record of reaching base for a 75th consecutive game with a walk in the first inning.

“It was nice to square up a few tonight and get a good result,” said Jared McDonald. “It doesn’t have to be one guy every night and it could be any of us one through nine and the guys on the bench who could swing it and do big things for us as well.”

Trailing 1-0 in the 1st, Rockland busted out the lumber against Quebec starting pitcher Steven Inch with a bases loaded 2-run double off the bat of Jared Schlehuber. Making not only his team but home debut Mike Fransoso (3 doubles, 3 RBI’s) followed with a two-run double of his own. Riley Palmer delivered a sac fly to center scoring Fransoso making it 5-1. In the 2nd inning, McDonald led off cranking his first home run of the season over the Short Porch in right field. Fransoso ripped his 2nd double of the game bringing home Junior Arrojo extending the margin to 6-1.

“Bottom line it was a fun night and coming out here competing with these guys,” said Fransoso. “They accepted me right away in the locker room and supported me. It’s awesome having Jamie confidence in putting me in the lineup the first night I’m here.”

The Capitales did not go away quietly as Cody Kuzniczci hammered a two-run home run off starting pitcher Richard Salazar in the 6th. Quebec trimmed the margin down to 7-5 in the 8th on an RBI single from Adam Ehrlich. McDonald provided some insurance belting his second dinger of the night almost in the exact spot in right field. Salazar picked up this second win of the season while Hector Nelo worked a perfect 9th to register his third save of the season.

“A pretty special night and neat for us around baseball,” said Manager Jamie Keefe. “Doing at home and in front of your crowd and Jared had two jacks that gave us some breathing room. Salazar battled and the defense was really good.”

Former Rockland player Nate Roe was the difference maker in game two of the series tossing 6 2/3 shutout innings and yielding just three hits while striking out five. Quebec struck early in the top 2nd off David Fischer on a two-run bases loaded single from Roel Santos. With runners on 2nd and 3rd and one out in the 3rd inning, Cody Kuzniczci lifted a sac fly to left scoring Marcus Knecht. Making his first appearance since going on the disabled list with a groin injury, Alex Gouin was very impressive hurling five scoreless innings

The Boulders had their scoring opportunities starting in the 4th with runners on 1st and 2nd and one out but Roe escaped the jam fanning Brian Ragira and Mike Montvile to end the inning. In the 7th with runners on 1st and 2nd and two outs, Capitales relief pitcher Jordan Mills managed to get McDonald to ground out to first.

“Pitch count got way up real quick for Fischer and couldn’t get ahead of guys and put anyone away,” said Keefe. “We needed that from Alex and puts us in a good spot. Now we take that, wear it on the chin and give ourselves to win the series. Our approach wasn’t very good tonight and we kept swinging and haven’t struck out like that in a long time.”

Quebec took advantage of couple of miscues in the field in game of series. A scoreless game in the 4th inning the Capitales had runners on the corner and two outs when Boulders starter Jarret Martin pickoff throw at first base skipped by Jared Schlehuber allowing Jordan Lennerton to trot across home plate. Riley Palmer bailed Martin out of the inning making a sensational diving catch on a shallow fly ball hit by Cody Kuzniczci.

In the 5th, the Capitales put runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs when Jonathan Malo hit a chopper to Junior Arrojo but Arrojo was unable to come up with the ball loading up the bases. Martin managed to get Marcus Knecht to ground into a 6-4-3 double play. However, Adam Ehrlich scored making it 2-0.

The Boulders offense continued to sputter not having tallied a run in 14 innings before Jared McDonald put an end to the streak in the 6th smoking his 3rd home run of the series deep over the right field wall. From that point on Quebec’s relievers held Rockland in check allowing no hits while striking out four.

“Teams’ are taking advantage of our mistakes right now and we’re not taking advantage of theirs,” said Keefe. “We’re certainly not tearing the cover off the ball and we could use every excuse in the book but right now we need to capitalize on mistakes. Jarret looked good early, had that tough inning but threw the ball well enough to win that game but we just didn’t have any big time hits. We have to play ourselves out of this and put a few more runs on the board.”

Next up for the Boulders is a three-game series versus the defending 2015 Can-Am League Champions Trois-Riveres. Last year the Aigles defeated Rockland 3-2 in the first round of the playoffs. The Boulders record stands at 9-7 and three and half games behind the red hot New Jersey Jackals who have won 9 games in a row.

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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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