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Boulders Split Series With Sussex County To Open 2016 Season



Last week the Rockland Boulders opened up the 2016 regular season against the Sussex County Miners and playing under a new home ballpark name Palisades Credit Union Park in Pomona, New York.

In the first game, the Miners jumped out to an early 1-0 advantage in the first inning on a lead off home run from left fielder Carl Thomore. Rockland quickly tied the game in the bottom half of the frame on an RBI groundout from Marcus Nidiffer. Sussex County reclaimed the lead in the fourth as Boulders starting pitcher as Markus Solbach threw a wild pitch allowing Joe Dunnigan to score from 3rd. Elvin Soto followed with an RBI single scoring Chris Duffy making it 3-1.

Solbach settled into a groove after a rough 4th retiring 10 hitters in a row while fanning eight. Nidiffer led off the 6th inning cranking a monstrous solo shot on to the concourse in left field trimming the lead to 3-2. The Miners added an insurance run in the 9th off new Rockland pitcher Pat Butler on a RBI infield single from Soto. Former Boulders pitcher Joe Donnino registered the win.

“Markus threw the ball well and his biggest mistake was not taking the out at first base in the fourth,” said Manager Jamie Keefe. “”We don’t get the out and it’s second and third and two runs are in. It’s the first game and we have 100 of these for a reason. Joe threw the ball well and kept us off balance all night and did not give in when we had runners in scoring position.”

The Boulders were the team that jumped out of the gate early in game two of the series scoring three times in the first inning highlighted by a two-run homer from Junior Arrojo. Rockland would go on to score four more times in the 4th to register the 11-5 victory. Bo Budkevics went five innings for the win yielding three innings on five hits.

After falling behind 1-0 in the 2nd inning of game 1 of a doubleheader, Brian Ragira slugged his first home run as a Rockland Boulder deep into right center bleachers in the bottom half of the frame. Junior Arrojo picked up where left off in Game 2 ripping a bases clearing double down the left field line making it 4-1. Arrojo punctuated the night clubbing a three-run missile into the left field bleacher giving him six runs batted in for the game. Starting pitcher Richard Salazar tossed a gem hurling five innings giving up one run on three hits while whiffing five and walking three.

“I feel good right now, comfortable at the plate and just trying to put some good swings at the ball,” said Junior Arrojo. “”We didn’t doubt that we were going to come back and it’s good to see that early in the season we have that character. It feels good to help our team win.”

After an hour rain delay, game 2 of the twin-bill got underway with the Miners racing out to a 1-0 lead in the first but the lights went out at Palisades Credit Union Park forcing the game to be suspended.

In the series finale, the Miners tagged Rockland starting pitcher David Fischer for four runs in the first inning. The Boulders responded tallying seven runs from the second through fourth innings but Sussex County chipped away taking the lead with two runs in the sixth. Junior Arrojo was on fire once again belting his 3rd long ball of the season while driving in three runs.

Arrojo finished the series going 7 for 15 and is batting .467 with three home runs and 12 RBI’s. Yesterday he was named Can-Am League Player Of The Week.

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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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