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Boulders offense explodes in series sweep of Sussex County

After ending a seven game Canadian trip by taking two out of three at Ottawa, the Rockland Boulders returned home to open their longest home stand in franchise history (11 games). Manager Kevin Baez stressed the importance of playing well at home. “We went to Trois-Rivieres and went 1-3, then went to Ottawa and said to the guys let’s take two out of three and start playing better baseball and we did”


The Boulders faced a formidable opponent in the first-place Sussex County Miners, who had swiped 8 of 12 meetings between both teams.  The Boulders certainly rose to the occasion, tallying 24 runs and 32 hits while receiving outstanding pitching performances from Tommy Shirley (2-5), Reinaldo Lopez (5-3) and Jake Zokan (1-3) to sweep the three game set.


Robbie Gordon registered his ninth save of the season. Newcomer Luis Cedeno made an emphatic statement by Sunday striking out the side to end the ball game.


Rockland wasted no time jumping out to an early advantage, scoring the majority of their runs in the first inning and putting up a five spot in the second inning on Saturday night. Richie Fecteau (4 for 12, three runs scored) and Collin Ferguson (3 for 12, two runs scored) each contributed 4 RBI’s with Fecteau crushing his team leading 8th home run of the year in the series finale. In Sunday’s game Sussex County starter Jeff Thompson was undefeated at 7-0 and had thrown a complete game against the Boulders. However, that changed as Thompson was roughed up in five and one third innings on the mound and surrendered eight runs on 10 hits and yielding two home runs.


Despite an 11-hame hitting streak coming to an end, Blake Grant-Parks still managed to go 4 for 11 with three runs scored and four RBIs as well. Adam Ehrlich went 3 for 9 along with three runs scored and three RBIs. Matt Oberste went 5 for 12 with three runs scored and one RBI. After sitting out the Trois-Rivieres series due to an injury sustained in the All-Star Game, second baseman Ryne Birk returned to the lineup during the Ottawa series.  Birk put on an offensive power display against the Miners, slugging two round trippers including a lead off home run on Friday night.


“All of the game able to put up a crooked number in the first inning, really nice and helped our pitchers’ out and defense, said Birk. We have been aggressive, worked out for us and our team one through nine has been hitting the ball really well especially of late and in this series. We had some tough luck and that’s baseball and hopefully keep scoring and stacking the wins”


“The Trois-Rivieres series put a bad taste in our mouths, a couple of tough games and nice getting the first one out of the way in Ottawa and kept it going from there. Nice beating a team that has kind of whooped us this year, it’s tough, no surprise they are in first place and had our number this year. From the first day we got here it’s different from other teams’ because everyone likes each other and doesn’t hate each other and got a really good chemistry and helped us get through the tough times”


“The heat lit up our bats, we have been hitting well all year but now stringing them together and allowing us to get more runs, get bigger innings and taking pressure off the pitchers’ who are pitching well and leading to all the wins”


Baez on the series sweep of the Miners;  “We really had no success against Thompson, the guys came out swinging today and got after him early. Zokan comes in, has a good outing and kept it at bay. Ryne is an All-Star, playing like that and to have him back in the lineup is a plus for us. Very proud of the guys and playing the way they capable of and just not doing that early on. The guys are starting hit, the starting pitching and bullpen are putting it together at the right time. So important at this level with younger kids to minimize the mistakes, throwing it to the right base and try to preach here”


After a day off on Monday, Rockland will continue the home stand with a four-game series on Tuesday against the Ottawa Champions. The doubleheader starting at 5:00 p.m. Currently, the Boulders are in fourth place in the Can-Am League with a 27-30 record, one game ahead of Ottawa (26-30) and eight and a half games behind Sussex County (34-20).

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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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