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Boulders sweep Gary Southshore Railcats

The Rockland Boulders swept their first series of the season.

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The Rockland Boulders swept their first series of the season this past weekend against the Gary Southshore Railcats at Provident Bank Park. Stephen Cardullo belted a walk off home run in the ninth inning on Sunday, giving the Boulders a 7-6 win, and the series sweep. Shawn Gilblair earned the victory in relief.

On Saturday, starting pitcher Stephen Harrold tossed seven strong innings limiting the Railcats to one run on three hits while striking out six and walking two as the Boulders won 5-1. After yielding a first inning single, Harrold did not give up another one until the seventh inning.

“I was trying to work fast and get ahead of the hitters tonight,” said Stephen Harrold. “The long layoff in between starts allowed me to tweak my mechanics a little bit. I was just trying to work more down hill, stay behind the ball and my control was a little bit better tonight. The three run inning took a lot of pressure off me.”

Rockland broke through in the bottom of the second inning, taking advantage of couple of miscues by Gary Southshore. Stephen Cardullo’s ground ball to shortstop Ryan Brockett was misplayed allowing Joe Maloney to score from second. Marcus Nidiffer produced a patented home run smoking the ball 415 feet over the concourse fence in left field making the score 3-0. Charlie Law clubbed a solo shot into the Short Porch in right field in the bottom of the fifth, extending the Boulders lead to 4-0.

“Stephen got ahead of hitters tonight and he worked well with Marcus Nidiffer behind the plate,” said Manager Jamie Keefe. “When a team makes mistakes you have to capitalize on them.”

In the series opener on Friday, Richard Salazar picked up his third win of the season going six inning innings surrendering two runs on nine hits while striking out two and walking two. Salazar lowered his E.R.A. down to an impressive 1.04.

“Today it wasn’t about striking out everyone so I had to trust my defense because Gary Southshore is a good contact team,” said Salazar. “The offense always has a good approach when they need to get it going.”

The Railcats jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI double by J.D. Pulfer to left field. Rockland answered back in the bottom of the fourth as Steve Nyisztor led off with a double down the right field line. After Ryan Fischer flied out to left field, Joe Maloney walked putting runners at first and second. Stephen Cardullo ripped an RBI triple into left center field gap giving the Boulders a 2-1 advantage. Giuseppe Papaccio looped a single into center field plating Cardullo for the third run of the inning.

“It was a great win to start a series especially considering we had a couple off days plus we had timely hits,” said Stephen Cardullo. “Salazar gave us seven strong innings and bullpen came in and shut it down.”

A pivotal moment came in the top of the sixth inning when Railcats catcher Michael Vaughn hammered a ball into left center field gap that scored Roger Bernal from first base cutting the lead down to 3-2 but Vaughn attempt for a triple was cut short as Cardullo threw the ball while on the ground to Junior Arrojo who then fired to Ryan Fischer at third base applying the tag for the final out of the inning.

The Boulders added a couple of insurance runs in the seventh inning on an RBI single from Junior Arrojo and sac fly by Jared McDonald increasing the lead to 5-2. In the eighth inning, Fray Martinez came into pitch. After issuing a lead off walk to Pulfer and single to Adam Taylor. Bernal grounded into a fielder’s choice brining in Pulfer to make the score 5-3. Taylor attempted to swipe second base but catcher Marcus Nidiffer threw him out with a rifle throw. Martinez escaped the jam striking out Michael Schroeder to end the inning. Luis Sanz pitched a perfect ninth inning to preserve the win.

“It took a while for the adrenaline to start pumping but pitching and defense is what you have to do against this team,” said Keefe. “We were able to get some big hits when we needed to.”

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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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