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Boulders Sweep Four-Game Set Against Trois-Rivières

Make it 7-0. The Boulders are just that against the Trois-Rivières Aigles this season as Rockland swept the four-game set by outscoring the Aigles 28-10 at Palisades Credit Union Park over the fourth of July weekend. The Boulders(26-17) extended their winning streak to five games, closing to within two and half games of the New Jersey Jackals in the Can-Am League standings.

“Five out of six and we’re starting to click,” Manager Jamie Keefe said. “Hoping this is the kick start of something we are pushing for and hopefully can swing the bats for the next six games. We want to up there (Canada) and win both series.”

In game one of the series, Alex Gouin (3-1) pitched a gem tossing eight shutout innings while scattering five hits and striking out five hitters. Pat McKenna provided early run support for Gouin slugging a two-run homer in the second inning. An RBI single from Jared Schlehuber in the 6th extended the lead to 3-0.

“I felt good last weekend against Cuba but this is about executing your pitches and I felt that was the main objective,” Alex Gouin said. “My main focus was not to overthrow anyone and had all my pitches working. My off-speed for strikes even when I was behind in the count and kept hitters off balance.”

Trois-Rivieres made it interesting in ninth against closer Hector Nelo on a Joey Miller RBI double. However, Nelo slammed the door fanning Kyle Frenz notching his eighth save of the season.

“Alex was hitting his spots from pitch one and did a great job getting through that lineup unscathed,” Keefe said. “They got two hits in the outfield and rest are ground balls that is a sign of a good start. Pat really has had great number over his career and over past couple of months struggled at Lincoln and knew what kind of ball player he was and gave him an opportunity here.”

Rockland relied on “Mr. Reliable” Markus Solbach in game two of the series who turned in another masterful pitching performance going eight innings surrendering three runs on nine hits while striking out five and walking two to register his Can-Am League leading fifth victory.

Newcomer Devin Harris proved to be the offensive spark plug snapping a 1-1 tie in the 4th knocking in a two-run bases loaded single. Jared McDonald clubbed a two-run double into left center gap increasing the margin to 5-1.

“It’s fun being here and playing in front of a crowd like this,” Devin Harris said. “Coming off a game like this gets the adrenaline going and good to come up with a hit right there with a tie game and get the first hit out of the way. It makes baseball fun when you are competing for a championship and nice to come to a team that wants to win.”

“He (Markus Solbach) pitched to control when he needed to and gave up a few more hits because he didn’t want to walk anybody and that’s pitching,” Keefe said.

“To see that athleticism and he (Devin Harris) is comfortable and putting him in the lineup every day is a big presence and huge for us. One thing that goes unseen is you have a professional hitter in Devin that’s been around and got to put the ball in play somewhere and even if it’s on the ground to tack on an extra run.”

Both teams’ were locked in a close duel in game three of the series. In the seventh inning, Zach Colby gave the Aigles the lead 2-1 on a bases loaded single. With Daniel Carela into pitch for Rockland, Carela served up a walk to Steve Brown with the bases juiced forcing in a run. Carela limited the damage striking out Daniel Mateo and getting Danny Richar to ground out to second.

That set the stage for a memorable ninth inning for the Boulders. Pat McKenna got the ball rolling drawing a lead off walk that was followed by back-to-back singles from Devin Harris and Mike Montville. Elvin Soto stepped up to the plate and hit a grounder to Joey Miller at first, McKenna darted home sliding in safely making it 3-2.

After Jared McDonald grounded into a force out, Junior Arrojo delivered his record 4th walk-off hit in franchise history, belting a two-run single to deep center giving Rockland a 4-3 come from behind victory. Edgar Valle earned his third win of the season posting a scoreless ninth.

“It feels to come up in big times and situations and take pride in that,” Junior Arrojo said. “All starts with McKenna having a great at bat and got that walk is huge. From the time we walked into the ninth inning we knew we had that feeling we were going to win the game and that’s what winning teams’ do. The veterans in this organization are used to winning ball games.”

On the fourth of July, Mike Montville did not wait around for the post-game fireworks to start putting on a show of his own bashing two home runs including a grand-slam in the seventh where the Boulders put the game away scoring seven times en route to a 14-3 drubbing of Trois-Rivieres. Marcus Nidiffer and Jared Schlehuber each drove in three runs apiece.

Another newcomer Mike Adams(1-1), making his second start battled through five and one-third innings yielding two runs on nine hits to record his first win in a Boulders uniform.

“I had a better plan tonight and looking for a certain pitch each time and got one both times and able to execute,” Mike Montville said. “There have been times I have either fouled a ball off or missed a pitch but it felt good to connect on those.”

“An exciting fourth of July and just tried to go out there and do my job and put us in a good position to win the game,” Mike Adams said. “Getting that lead early in the game was very important and easy to pitch when you have the lead.”

The Boulders hit the road for a six-game Canadian road trip starting with three against the Québec Capitales and finishing up with a three-game set at Trois-Rivières.

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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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