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Boulders Keep Rolling, Rockland Sweeps Sussex

photo by Sunil Sunderraj Boulders celebrate another win at home!

photo by Sunil Sunderraj
Boulders celebrate another win at home!

The Rockland Boulders freight train express kept on rolling along, sweeping the Sussex County Miners at Provident Bank Park.

Rockland broke a franchise record for most home wins with its 30th, and narrowed their magic number to clinch a playoff spot down to 3 games.

The Boulders improved to a franchise best 53-27, and maintained a 5 game lead over the Quebec Capitales in the Can-Am League standings.

In the series opener, the Miners came out swinging sprinting out to an early 6-0 lead after two innings.

Rockland clawed back in the bottom half of the frame with RBI singles by Steve Nyisztor and Alex DeBellis. Marcus Nidiffer ripped a 2-run base loaded single into the right center gap in the 3rd closing the lead to 6-4.

Charlie Law’s RBI ground out scored Joe Maloney making it a one run game. Nyisztor drove in his 2nd run of the game clubbing a drive past Miners left fielder Brady Wilson scoring Marcus Nidiffer to even up the game at 6-6.

After an initial rough start to the game, Bo Budkevics settled down retiring 10 in a row at one point and 16 of last 17 batters he faced. Sussex County went back ahead 7-6 in the 8th on a bases loaded suicide squeeze bunt from Jason Hernandez scoring Jon Talley. The Boulders answered back in the bottom half of the inning with one swing as Alex DeBellis socked a solo shot into the Short Porch area in right field.

“Alex DeBellis did a heck of a job of catching Bo for the 1st time and with a big home run” said Jamie Keefe, “The guys battled tonight evening it up at 6-6…Gilblair threw the ball well and did his job”.

The Miners threatened in the ninth with runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 out but Shawn Gilblair shut the door striking out Jon Talley and with the bases loaded getting Devin Thaut to fly out to deep left with Stephen Cardullo making a spinning catch. Gilblair(3-1) earned his third win of the season.

In the ninth, Junior Arrojo led off getting hit by a pitch and advanced to 2nd on a wild pitch. Joe Maloney followed with a single to left field. Marcus Nidiffer was intentionally walked loading up the bases. Charlie Law stepped up to the plate and swung at strike three but the ball skipped by Miners catcher Jason Hernandez allowing Arrojo to score the game-winning run.

“I just wanted to make sure with a left hander on deck that I didn’t give into him and he was going to beat me he was going to hit a pitch I was going to make” said Shawn Gilblair.  “Luckily Cardullo made a great play as he was playing shallow in left field” added Gilblair.

The Boulders and Miners were knotted at 1-1 in game 2 of the series when Alex DeBellis hit a high chopper to second that deflected off the glove of Ray Otero into center allowing Charlie Law to score the go-ahead run in the 7th inning. On the throw to third base, Devin Thaut misplayed the ball enabling Steve Nyisztor to come around and score.

“A pitchers’ duel where both guys threw the ball well” said Manager Jamie Keefe, “Alex DeBellis put the ball in play and good things happened” added Keefe. “Stephen Cardullo is a special player who had a great road trip and has kept it going”

Sussex County did not go away quietly in the ninth stringing together 3 consecutive singles to load up the bases. Luis Sanz escaped the jam with some nifty defense from Junior Arrojo making a spectacular an over the shoulder catch on a pop up off the bat of Cory Morales into shallow left field. Sanz sealed the victory striking out Brady Wilson to record his 16th save of the season. Alex Gouin(7-2) earned his seventh win of the season giving up just one run on six hits, striking out four and walking one in seven innings of work.

“A matter of feeling real comfortable with a great team which has been hot of late” said Alex Gouin. “The ball felt a little bit weird at the start but I worked with the rosin bag which helped me settle down” added Gouin.

Stephen Cardullo launched his 8th home run of the season with 2 outs in the 1st. Cardullo came up big on the defensive side on a single by Thaut into left field firing a one hop strike to home as Marcus Nidiffer applied the tag on Jon Talley.

“ I was very happy I could produce for the team” said Stephen Cardullo. “Alex pitched a great game going 7 innings and glad I could save a run with that throw to home” added Cardullo.

The rubber match of the series turned out to be a 4 hour and 24 minute marathon featuring seven lead changes, but the Boulders came out on top in 13 innings as Junior Arrojo raked a single back up the middle into center scoring Alex DeBellis as Rockland completed the 3-game sweep.

Sussex County had taken an 8-6 lead in the 11th on a Kenny Bryant 2-run missile over the right center wall. Bryant’s 2nd 2-run blast of the night. Down to their last strike, the Boulders rallied with Stephen Cardullo(4-5, 3 RBI’s) flicking a 2-run single into right field tying the game up at 8-8.

“We have a lot of fight on this team and even when we’re down by a couple of runs knew we were going to come back and win the game ” said Junior Arrojo. “We feed off the energy of Stephen Cardullo who is having a great season” added Arrojo. “When the game is on the line, our bullpen is the best in the league”

Back came the Miners in the 12th John Talley ripping an RBI single into right center scoring Jamal Austin making it 9-8. With Joe Maloney starting out at 2nd under Can-Am League speed up rule, Charlie Law dropped down a sac bunt advancing Maloney to third. Steve Nyisztor stepped up and lifted a fly ball to center. Austin fired a howitzer to home but Maloney slide safely under the tag tying the game once again at 9-9.

“It’s funny how the game goes sometimes but down to your last strike Stephen Cardullo never gives a bat away,” said Manager Jamie Keefe. “He kept us in the game stealing a base and doing the little things” added Keefe. “I liked the way we kept going and came back”

Rockland got on the scoreboard in the 2nd as Charlie Law drilled a triple to the left center gap scoring Joe Maloney from 1st. Steve Nyisztor’s RBI ground out deflected off the glove of Miners starting pitcher Jamie Walczak allowing Law to score from 3rd.

The Miners struck back in the 3rd scoring 3 times. Jamal Austin blooped an RBI single to right field scoring Jason Hernandez. Jon Talley grounded into a fielder’s choice but on the throw to 1st base Austin raced around second to score the third run of the inning.

Stephen Cardullo fisted a single into right in the bottom 3rd scoring Junior Arrojo tying the game at 3-3. In the fifth, Austin drove in his second run of the game hammering a single into right field scoring Hernandez putting Sussex County ahead 4-3. The Boulders did not take long to tie the game up in the bottom fifth as Junior Arrojo clubbed a double to left center scoring Jared McDonald.

Kenny Bryant clubbed a 2-run shot into the Short Porch area in right field giving the Miners a 6-5 advantage. Alex De Bellis matched that power crushing a solo shot into the left bleachers, DeBellis’s 2nd of the series 4th of season.

Richard Salazar(11-2) searching for his Can-Am League leading 12th win of the season hurled 8 innings surrendering three runs on six hits while striking out five and walking two but earned his second consecutive no-decision 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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