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Boulders Snap 11 Game Losing Streak With Win Over Trois-Rivieres

(Photo by Double G Media)

(Photo by Double G Media)


Returning to Palisades Credit Union Park, the Rockland Boulders were attempting to snap their season high 11 game-losing streak and avoid slipping further in the Can-Am League standings. Rockland squared off against the Trois-Rivieres Aigles. So far this season the Boulders had dominated the Aigles taking nine out of 10 games, including a perfect 7-0 at home.

“It wears on you and I give credit to the team for not laying down,” said Manager Jamie Keefe. “We’re going to find out who is going to be here in August.”

In game one of the series, Trois-Rivieres jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning. However, Junior Arrojo gave the Boulders a 2-1 lead in the third on a RBI single to right field. Back came the Aigles in the fourth as Connor Crane led off with a stand up triple and came around to score on a Yeixon Ruiz run-producing single.

In the bottom half of the frame, Elvin Soto laced a two-out single off Delvis Morales glove at short scoring Marcus Nidffer as Rockland reclaimed the lead. Daniel Mateo drove in his second run of the contest for Trois-Rivieres in the 6th blasting a solo shot over the Short Porch in right field.

Pat Butler relieved starter Joe Ravert in the inning only to give up a two-run double to Jiwan James. Jared Schlehuber had a response in the bottom of the inning crushing his 7th homer of the season. The see-saw affair continued as the Aigles scored twice in the seventh taking a three-run advantage.

The Boulders refused to fold in the tent as Devin Harris launched a monstrous two-run blast into the left field grandstand cutting the deficit down to one run. Marcus Nidiffer stepped up to the plate and promptly hammered his 14th long ball of the season over the right field wall tying the game up.

Donnie Joseph entered the game in the eighth and Steve Brown greeted Joseph with a two-run double. Former Boulder Mike Schwartz contributed with an RBI single that eluded both Pat McKenna & Junior Arrojo.

“You can’t giver up 18 hits and expect to win,” Keefe said. “We came right back but something has to change and step up and take it by the horns. We have to make some changes and pretty quickly and in the process of doing it. We have to keep battling but you can’t give up 18 hits and 11 runs and expect to win a ball game.”

Facing the prospect of tying a franchise record for most consecutive losses of 11 in a row set back in 2011, Rockland turned to newcomer Brett Palanski in game two of the series. Trois-Rivieries did not waste any time taking the lead as Jiwan James on the third pitch in the first inning smacked a solo shot. The Aigles would tag Palanski for three more runs in the second.

Rookie Jason Byers entered the game in the third and pitched brilliantly tossing six innings allowing one on four hits including retiring 13 hitters at one point in the game.

Stymied by Trois-Rivieres starter Edilson Alvarez for most of the night, Rockland broke through in the eighth on a Mike Fransoso RBI fielder’s choice. The Aigles added a run in the ninth on a RBI double from Kyle LaFrenz.

The Boulders did not go away quietly in the bottom half of the frame. Devin Harris clubbed his second homer in two nights leading off the inning. The momentum kept building as Jared Schelhuber followed with a bad hop single to left center and two walks loaded up the bases. Quinnton Mack drew a walk off Aigles reliever Scott Kusminsky forcing in a run trimming the deficit to 5-3. Mike Fransoso came up the plate but Kusminsky coaxed Fransoso into a pop out to second sending the Boulders to their franchise tying record 11th loss in a row.

“All you can do is get the tying run on and we were able to do that with a chance to tie and win it,” said Keefe. “Plain and simple someone has to step up and two pitchers mistakes cost up tonight. Jason did exactly what we him to do and gave ourselves a chance to win. He has been absolutely dominant the last two starts.”

Attempting to avoid the dubious mark of 12 consecutive losses in a row, Jared Schlehuber provided the Boulders the momentum they needed at a critical period cranking his second homer of the series, a two-run shot into the right-center bleachers in the second inning. Mike Schwartz RBI single to right in the third cut the margin down to one. Rockland starter David Fischer wiggled out of the jam getting Daniel Mateo to fly out to right field. Elvin Soto helped Fischer on the defensive side throwing out three runners at second base.

Another newcomer Leandro Castro made an instant contribution ripping an RBI single into center in the sixth scoring Junior Arrojo. After a brief rain delay, Daniel Carela relieved Fischer who went six innings yielding one run on three hits while walking four and striking out five.

Carela allowed a lead off walk to Yeixon Ruiz. Delvis Morales followed lining a drive down the left field line. With Ruiz motoring around the bases and heading for home, Devin Harris fired the ball into Junior Arrojo and in turn threw home to Elvin Soto who dropped the ball as the lead was down to 3-2.

In the bottom half of the inning and runners on corner with one out, Junior Arrojo provided a key insurance run dropping down a perfect infield bunt single as Soto beat the throw at home.

“It felt good to get back on track here and good thing through the tough times I saw the character in our clubhouse and didn’t start pointing fingers at each other and stayed together,” Junior Arrojo said. “Obviously we didn’t want to lose any games.”

Hector Nelo took over the pitching duties in the eighth and ran into immediate trouble with runners first and second with one out. Nelo escaped the jam coaxing Ruiz and Kyle LaFrenz into fly outs. The ninth inning was no different as the Aigles had the tying run at the plate. Nelo reared back and struck out Ryan Brockett and got Steve Brown on liner to short as the Boulders ended their 11 game losing slide. Nelo registered his 11th save of the season while David Fischer earned his fifth win.

“It’s gone and Fischer pitched as well he has all year and even when he got guys on Elvin shot them down throwing out three runners trying to steal,” Keefe said. “At the end of the day we came out on top and that’s all matters. Leandro is an enormous addition and solidifying once potent offense and hope it’s the missing piece that can slide in and it able to really pick us up. Elvin his been good all year for us and got to show it off an fun to watch.”

The rubber match of the series was postponed due to rain and will be made up as part of a doubleheader up in Canada on Monday. Now the Boulders turn their attention to an all-important four game series against the second place Quebec Capitales who swept Rockland last weekend.

“It’s amazing what one win can do and everyone can take a deep breath now” said Keefe. “Hopefully it lifts everyone up and can go out and play baseball now. We want to gain some ground and if we can take three out of four it will be huge now and get the ball rolling in the right direction.”

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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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