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Boulders Extend Winning Streak to Eight After Sweeping Amarillo

Rockland sweeps second straight series.

The Rockland Boulders are surging at the right time. They started a nine-game road trip on the right note, sweeping the Amarillo Thunderheads of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball and extended their winning streak to eight games. Rockland has swept back-to-back series.

In the series opener, Giuseppe Papaccio was instrumental with the go-ahead and winning run in the top of the ninth by leading off with a double, stealing third base and crossing home plate on a wild pitch uncorked by Austin Kirk. Rockland was down 7-4 entering the top of the eighth when Jared McDonald drove in a 2-run single cutting the lead down to 7-6. With runners on the corners, Joe Maloney doubled scoring McDonald to tie the game up at 7-7.

The Boulders loaded up the bases and Charlie Law delivered the big blow with 2-run producing hit that put Rockland ahead 9-7. Steve Nyisztor added another run scoring single bumping the lead to 10-7. However, Amarillo responded with a flourish tallying three runs in the bottom half of the frame tying the game at 10-10.

“A battle from the get go as both teams struggled with tough field conditions and hope all night,” said Manager Jamie Keefe.

Starting pitcher Alex Gouin was touched up for six runs with four of them earned on twelve hits in 6 2/3 innings but the Boulders bullpen stepped up in his defense. Despite yielding three runs on two hits in an inning of work, Chad Robinson earned the victory. Luis Sanz preserved the lead in the ninth to register his twelfth save of the season.

In game two of the series, the game was knotted at 2-2 in the eight when Marcus Nidiffer slugged his Can-Am League leading fourteenth home run of the season, giving Rockland a 3-2 lead. Alex DeBellis added some insurance knocking in an RBI single extending the margin to 4-2. Amarillo sliced the lead down to 4-3 in the ninth on a RBI single from right fielder Logan Vick. Luis Sanz managed to get DH Stefan Gartrell to fly out to right field securing the win and picking up his thirteenth save of the season.

“Pitching was the answer today as Salazar and the bullpen was great,” said Keefe. “The big guys in the middle swung it well once again.”

Joe Maloney added his tenth home run of the season along with two runs in drive. Richard Salazar pitched a gem tossing 6 innings allowing only one on five hits while striking out four earning his Can-Am League leading eleventh win.

The Boulders bats set the tone early in the rubber match of the series, scoring four times in the first inning highlighted by Marcus Nidiffer fifteenth round tripper of the season. Nidiffer went 3-for-5 with three runs driven in increasing his RBI total to 66, that leads the Can-Am League.

Rockland netted three more runs in the seventh to put the game out of reach. In the first inning, Rockland starting pitcher Stephen Harrold surrendered a run on two hits before exiting with a finger injury. Marcus Jensen was stellar in relief of Harrold hurling five innings of three-hit ball while fanning three. The bullpen combination of Chad Robinson and Pat Butler made the lead stick going two innings each while yielding one hit apiece.

“The best performance I have seen from Marcus Jensen,” said Keefe. “In the first inning he came in and threw seven pitches to work out of a jam. The bats were alive again and Robinson/Butler with two clean innings.”

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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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