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Boulders Split Series Against Sussex County

After splitting a doubleheader against Sussex County at Palisades Credit Union Park on Tuesday, the Rockland Boulders looked to gain further ground against the first place Miners in the Can-Am League standings. However, the Boulders fell behind 6-0 after three innings due to a series of miscues on Wednesday.

The lone bright spot on this night was Rockland going yard three times on Miners starting pitcher Tyler Alexander, Marcus Nidiffer with his sixth, Mikael Mogues fifth of the year and Mike Montville’s fourth. However, that would be the only runs Alexander would yield in the game. Boulders starting pitcher Justin Topa (1-1) went seven innings surrendering seven runs, five of them earned on six hits, walking three and striking out two.

“We couldn’t hold guys on, throw anybody out, make plays and [we had] nine errors in two games,” said manager Jamie Keefe. “We’re not going to win ball games when you can’t stop the running game it doesn’t bode well and [we] have to clean up our defense. Uncharacteristic of [Topa] to walk some guys, got ahead of some guys but couldn’t put anyone away.

“When we look down the road and it’s about getting guys on and hitting in better positions rather than hitting solo shots. But we’ll take everyone we can get and keep us within striking distance at the end of the game. This club with it’s power is within three or four runs every single night and has the opportunity to tie it up.”

Attempting to avoid dropping the series finale on Thursday, Rockland found itself in a 3-1 deficit heading into the bottom half of the third inning. Nidiffer quickly changed that scenario, belting a two-run double to tie up the contest. The Boulders broke out the lumber in the following inning, tallying seven runs to break the game wide open. JC Rodriguez led the way, going 2 for 3 with three RBI’s and two runs scored ,while Conor Bierfeldt, Cody Regis and Nidiffer each drove two runs apiece.

Rockland starter Travis Hissong managed to hurl 5 2/3 innings, allowing four runs in nine innings, walking four and striking out one before giving way to the bullpen. Sussex County refused to wave the white towel, scoring five times off the trio of Nick Kennedy, Tommy Lawrence and Kyle Hansen. But Hansen managed to shut the door in the ninth as Hissong (3-1) registered his third win of the season. Both teams’ combined for a whopping 20 runs on 29 hits while committing five errors.

“A good one and a lot closer than it was,” said Keefe. “A good seven run inning doesn’t hurt anybody, the guys swung the bats really well.”

The Boulders improved their record to 14-13 and trail the Miners by three games in the standings. Continuing the home stand, Rockland welcomes in the Dominican Republic for a three-game set and are off to a rough start at 0-6.

“Baseball is baseball and not matter how you play it, you have to play nine and 27 outs,” said Keefe. “Anybody on a given night can beat you. We have a good chance to go out and take three this weekend and [that’s] our goal…”

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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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