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Boulders split doubleheader against Sussex County

After a day off, the Rockland Boulders returned to action with a morning doubleheader against the first place Sussex County Miners at Palisades Credit Union Park. Trailing the Miners by three games in the Can-Am League standings, Rockland look to gain more ground.

In game one, Sussex County quickly jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning. A sac fly from Rubi Silva and Luis Alen crushing a monstrous solo shot off Boulders starting pitcher Kagen Hopkins on to the concourse in left field. It just took one inning for Rockland to answer back as Conor Bierfeldt smashed a two-run home run into the left field bleachers.

Hopkins settled down from a rough second inning tossing 5 2/3 innings yielding two runs on four hits while walking three and striking out eight. The real story of the contest was number of base runners Rockland left on the base that totaled 10 through five innings of play.

Handing off the baton to Nick Kennedy in the fifth inning with runners at second and third with two outs, Kennedy promptly struck out Alen. In the seventh, Marcus Nidiffer led off with a walk. Entering the game with the six-game hitting streak, Conrad Gregor continued his recent surge slugging a massive two-run homer that landed on top of the Mercedes-Benz tarp in right center for the walk-off victory and Boulders ninth win in their last 11 games. 12 out of his last 25 Gregor increased his batting average to .314 along with two home runs and 11 RBI.

“That felt good, they always do and from a team perspective didn’t want to go into extras with having game two,” said Conrad Gregor. “Just trying to put a good swing on it and I love this park, one of the reasons I came back because of the ball park, fans, good support system and well-run organization.”

“One through nine there is no easy out, hitting is contagious and everyone is a tough out and has the ability to go deep at any given point. When we are clicking and firing on all cylinders it’s something special.”

Manager Jamie Keefe on the victory in game one, “We had our chances early and put the ball in play. No bad at bats and mapped out the way we wanted to and right guys up at the end. Good for Conrad(Gregor) to take care of it at the end and is a seasoned hitter.”

“The last couple of starts have been really good for him (Kagen Hopkins), Nick (Kennedy) is the man and lucky to have him on our side and knows how to take care of his arm.”

In game two, the Miners jumped out of the gates early grabbing a 7-1 lead due to a series of errors committed by Rockland. The Boulders came roaring back thanks to the long ball starting with Cody Regis clubbing his 8th of the season, a two-run shot in the third inning. In the fourth inning, J.C. Rodriguez blasted a two-run laser into the Budweiser Short Porch in right field. Marcus Nidiffer followed cracking a three-run missile into the left field bleachers.

However, the see-saw contest continued as Sussex County responded scoring twice in the fifth off Tommy Lawrence. The Miners continued to pour it on the next two innings on a two-run double by Jayce Ray and Rubi Silve three-run blast over the right center wall. In the seventh, Alex Herceg ripped a two-run single making it 14-10 but that would be as close as the Boulders would get.

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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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