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Boulders split wild doubleheader with New Jersey

After rain washed out the start of the Rockland Boulders three game series vs. the New Jersey Jackals at Palisades Credit Union Park, both teams’ returned to the diamond on Tuesday for an afternoon doubleheader. Fresh off a dominant performance on the hill against Ottawa, hurling eight shutout innings, allowing just four hits and striking out six Travis Hissong took the mound but this time around would be a nightmarish beginning for Hissong and the Boulders.


New Jersey ended up stringing together nine runs on five hits, walking twice, one hit by pitch and two errors committed by Rockland’s defense. The Jackals chased Hissong from the game after one-third of an inning as manager Jamie Keefe signaled for Tommy Lawrence to come on to pitch.


Just when you thought a 9-0 cushion would be safe for New Jersey starter Yasmani Hernandez, it changed in a blink of an eye as Mikael Mogues crushed a grand slam into the Budweiser Short Porch in right field with two outs in the second inning. After breaking the Can-Am League record for most home runs in a season by a team with his 17thof the season at Ottawa on Sunday, captain Marcus Nidiffer did not skip a beat hammering a three-run blast into the left field bleachers.


“It plays in every ball park, it’s a test to these guys down 9-0, had a bunch of plays that should have been made but we didn’t make and we have been playing pretty decent defense, said Keefe. Fun for these guys to get back in front of the home crowd, swinging the bats and takes the pressure off themselves. Been a tough couple of days getting back into town and moves we made, you have to get back to business”


“Everybody was focused after that first inning, you could see the difference in everybody, getting the swings, seeing the ball really deep, putting the ball in play and making things happen”


In the fourth, Rockland kept on charging forward as Mike Montville hitting at the top of the lineup, led off the inning bashing his 15th home run into the left center bleachers. Conor Bierfeldt got into the long ball act, tying the contest up smashing a solo missile into left field grandstand seats. Montville was not done going yard in Game 1, clubbing a three-run rocket into the right center bleachers as the Boulders took the lead for the first time in the game.


“We just talked about having good at bats and staying in the game, said Montville. You have to do what you can and not get all nine at once. Obviously Mo(Mikael Mogues) got it going and no one really gave up. Once we got on board it going everyone going. We have more confidence seeing the ball here and guys sticking with the approach and what it takes”


“It’s really only different in the first at bat but just the same thing trying to have good at bats every time you are up. I was just trying to get a good pitch to swing at and take a good swing. I was not trying to get too excited about anything and take my best swing at it”


Meanwhile Tommy Lawrence did an outstanding job in relief, spinning 5 2/3 shutout innings on 54 pitches, surrendering just three hits and fanning six. After a sluggish start defensively, Rockland turned it around with the combination of second baseman Rylan Sandoval making his first start since May 25thand shortstop JC Rodriguez turning five double plays. Nidiffer made it 13 unanswered runs and six home runs on the day for the Boulders, golfing his second home run and 19thof the year into the left center bleachers in the sixth.


“5 2/3 innings, it’s just unreal and I can’t explain what he(Tommy Lawrence) did for us and saved that bullpen, Keefe said”


Game 2 of the twin bill featured a pitcher’s duel between Boulders starter Frank Moscatiello and Jackals starter Ricky Shafer combining for 12 strikeouts through the first four innings. Tied at 1-1 in the fifth, with runners at the corner, a crazy play unfolded as New Jersey shortstop Carlos Triunfel took off for second base but ended up getting in a rundown. Attempting to throw the ball toward home plate as Jordan Hinshaw sprinted down the third base line, Sandoval dropped the ball as Hinshaw came into score.


The Jackals extended their advantage in the sixth with the bases loaded, after fouling off several pitches Seth Spivey drilled a single into left field. Conor Hofmann and Taylor Oldham scored on the play, when Kevin Krause slipped on the wet grass allowing the ball to skip by thus enabling Daniel Canela to slide in safely at home plate.


Having already belted a solo shot in the third, Jason Agresti found the seats again cranking a moonshot onto the left field concourse in the sixth. Looking to cut further into the lead, Rockland had runners at second and third with two outs but Cody Regis popped out to end the inning.


New Jersey managed to tack on an insurance run in the seventh on a two out RBI single from Oldham. The Boulders refused to wave the white towel in the bottom half of the frame with runners on the corner and two outs. However, Vin Mazzaro coaxed Conor Bierfeldt into grounding out to first base to end the game.


“We had the tying run in the last inning and would have liked to take Game 2, said Keefe. Frankie pitched well, we got the double play when we needed to. We needed to see that out of Jason(Agresti) and he is seeing it better now and worked on some things”

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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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