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Boulders end losing skid by taking 3 of 4 against Ottawa

Mired in a three-game losing streak, yielding 33 runs during that stretch and two starters failing to making it out of the first inning during a critical seven-game home stand, Rockland Boulders Manager Jamie Keefe did not mince any words on what his team had to do in the rest of the series against the Ottawa Champions at Palisades Credit Union Park.

“It is what it is, we have to get through it and there are no excuses. We are still swinging the bats and getting our chances. We have to start putting zeros up on the board and not been able to do it. Listen, we’re playing teams’ we’re going after and coming after us and right in front of us. We have to turn the page, have 16 games left and have to figure it out. We have to get through it or going home and piece it together in the next couple of days.”

A pitching staff decimated by injuries especially with the starting five, Keefe turned to a familiar face and member of the 2014 championship squad in Bo Budkevics in game two of the series to not only put an end to the losing streak but quality innings on the mound to spell a taxed bullpen. Making the game even more special with former shortstop Junior Arrojo throwing out the first pitch to former teammate  and catcher/pitching coach/ captain Marcus Nidiffer.

“We don’t have any arms, no excuses and can’t worry about it,” Keefe said. “It’s in that clubhouse, there is nothing out there, maybe an arm or two. The Mexican League has extended its season and there are no big arms we can go out and get at this minute. Bo (Budkevics) is the one person you can trust, a clutch pitcher and no matter what will go out there and possibly save a series.”

Despite making his first start of the season for Rockland, Budkevics did not disappoint at all hurling three shutout innings while surrendering three hits, walking three and striking out three. Tied at 1-1 in the sixth, Cody Regis crushed his team leading 21st home run of the season that ultimately proved to be the game winner. Frank Moscatiello tossed 2 2/3 innings to earn his third win of the year in a game that ended in the seventh after heavy rains inundated Palisades Credit Union Park.

Having lasted just two-thirds of an inning, David Palladino turned the page by dialing up a signature gem in seven shutout innings on the hill, allowing five hits, walking one and whiffing six. Inserted into lead-off spot in the first game of the New Jersey Jackals series, Mike Montville continued his torrid stretch bashing his 20th long ball of the season and sixth in the last six games while adding a sac fly in the fourth.

Proving Palladino further run support in the third inning, Conor Bierfeldt hammered a two-out RBI double and Rylan Sandoval followed with at two-run single. Trey Haley and Kyle Hansen were solid in two shutout innings of relief while striking out two as Palladino earned his fourth win of the year.

In the series recap, Travis Hissong got the assignment attempting to wipe away the bad memory of a one-third outing against the Jackals in the first game of a doubleheader earlier in the week. Hissong gutted it out in six innings on the mound and tossing 107 pitches while surrendering two runs on five hits, walking two and striking out three.

Conrad Gregor put Rockland briefly ahead 2-1 in the third clubbing a double off the base of the right center wall as Montville motored around the bases from first to score. However, the Champions tied it up in the fourth on an RBI ground out from Ozny Guillen. Ottawa starter Jake Hale kept the Boulders offense in check not surrendering a hit from the third until sixth on two-out single by Cody Regis.

Equally impressive the Rockland bullpen as Nick Sarianides working out of a jam in the seventh with runners on first & second and two outs. Nick Kennedy retiring all six batters faced and Kyle Hansen working a scoreless inning. In the ninth, the Boulders had a golden opportunity to win it loading up the bases but Reggie Wilson grounded into the force out sending the game to extras.

In the bottom half of the 10th it would be Mike Montville not only capping off sizzling week slugging his 21st home run and seventh round tripper in seven games along with 13 RBI into the right center bleachers as Rockland won their third game in a row but making it a no-brainer named Pointstreak Player of the Week making him in the 8th Rockland Boulders player to earn that honor this season. Kyle Hansen (5-0) notched his fifth of the season.

“We have to win series and playing the way we want to,” Keefe said. “A gutsy win and that last at bat we strive for. We didn’t it get it done in the ninth and Montville comes up and had a hell of a week. 4-3 on the home stand, not exactly what we wanted but got that fourth win.”

Mike Montville on the game winning home run and in the lead off spot, “Swinging at better pitches and trying to get my best swing, just not put the ball in play. Good for me to mix it up, having a priority on seeing pitches and subsequently have better at bats.”

After a day off on Monday, the Boulders (46-41) take on the first-place Sussex County Miners (55-31) in a four game series and kicks off with a doubleheader on Tuesday afternoon at Skylands Stadium in Augutsa, NJ. The Miners have cooled off of late going 3-7 in their last 10 games.

“We just have to take care of business and win that series,” Keefe said. “Play one game at a time and way we have been playing of late. Guys are staying focused and doing the right thing.”

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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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