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Boulders Sweep Three Game Set From Trois-Rivieres



The Rockland Boulders put the finishing touches on a three game sweep against the defending 2015 Can-Am League Champions Trois-Rivieres, breaking out of an offensive slump by amassing 24 runs on 23 hits in the last two games. Rockland went 4-2 on the home stand, improving their overall record to 12-7 and now sit one and half games behind the New Jersey Jackals in the Can-Am League standings.

Next up for the Boulders is a four-game series against New Jersey at Yogi Berra Stadium in Montclair.

Rockland starting pitcher Markus Solbach (2-1) continued to be a workhorse, hurling eight innings for a fourth consecutive start while yielding just one run and eight hits, lowering his E.R.A. to 1.97. Solbach struck out eight, increasing his overall total to 27 on the season which places him in second in the league.

“Markus is just an inning-eater, 32 innings in four starts is unreal and what can you say,” said Manager Jamie Keefe. “There wasn’t a ball hit over 200 feet off him, a dominant performance and he knows what he is doing and willing to learn every day.”

The Aigles jumped out an early lead in the first inning on a RBI single from Steve Brown. In the bottom half of the frame, Jared McDonald led off lacing a double down the right field line. Junior Arrojo followed with an infield single. With runners at the corner and no outs, Mike Fransoso lifted a fly ball to shallow left, McDonald tagged up and attempted to score on the play but was thrown out at home plate by left fielder Sam Judah.

In the fourth, Rockland finally broke through with Alex DeBellis leading off with a single and Mike Montville stepped provided all the offense needed crushing his first home run as a Rockland Boulder and professionally on to the concourse in left field. Montville flashed the leather in right field making a spectacular running catch off a fly ball hit by Brown in the sixth that was curving down the right field line into the Rockland bullpen. Meanwhile, Solbach rolled along retiring eight in a row.

“I really haven’t been producing but it felt good to get that one and ultimately help the team win,” said Mike Montville. “Defense is a huge part of the game so I’m just doing my part out there and when I get up to the plate doing my job to get some runs on the board.”

Trois-Rivieres had a couple of golden scoring opportunities but the Boulders defense rose to the occasion. In the fifth, with runners on first and second and two outs, Daniel Maeto hit a ground ball into shallow right that Ray Frias tracked down and fired off balance to Jared Schlehuber ending the inning. The Aigles had runners on the corner with out in the eighth but Solbach worked out of the jam whiffing Bobby Coyle Jr. and getting Kyle LaFrenz to pop out. Hector Nelo came on in the ninth and shut the door registering his fourth save of the season.

In game two of the series, Trois-Rivieres seized the lead again in the first inning on a solo homer run off the bat of Daniel Mateo just over the reach of Mike Montville in right field. However, the lead would be short lived as Jared Schlehuber walloped a 3-run blast in the bottom half of the inning that bounced on top of the right field wall. Schlehuber was not done producing runs ripping a double in the third scoring Jared McDonald while Alex DeBellis clubbed another two bagger extending the margin to 6-1. Since May 22, Schlehuber has gone 23 for 58, good for a .396 batting average and three home runs and 15 RBI’s.

In the fifth, Schlehuber hammered a RBI double into the left center gap for his fifth RBI of the day. Rockland broke the game wide open in the sixth tallying seven runs on eight hits while sending twelve hitters to the plate. Schlehuber tallied his sixth RBI smoking a single to left. Alex DeBellis drove in his third run of the game with a single. Mike Fransoso added a two run double while Riley Palmer skied a pop out that fell in the infield allowing two runs to score on the play.

Meanwhile, Richard Salazar earned his third win of the season going 5 2/3 innings allowing two runs on eight hits while striking out seven. Salazar had to exit the game in the sixth due to an injury suffered on his pitching hand while attempting to field a comebacker by Yeixon Ruiz.

“It felt good to get a lead early, Salazar threw the ball well and nice to score runs and whole offense produced,” said Jared Schlehuber. “We have had some tough luck as guys have been hitting the ball hard and it’s good to get the line moving and hitting the ball. Coming in and getting into a routine is a grind, when it’s tough you have to grind through and when it’s going to good you have to ride it as much as you can.”

“First time all year we hit the ball real hard and once in a while you are waiting for those,” said Keefe. “We knew coming in Jared was going to hit a lot of doubles and especially in this ballpark.”

The Aigles followed a familiar script in the rubber match of the series taking a 1-0 advantage in the first. Jared McDonald did not waste anytime tying the game up the game socking his fourth home run of the season in the bottom half of the inning on top of the awning in right field. Rockland took advantage of the wildness by Trois-Rivieres starter Charles Gillies who issued three straight walks that led to two runs coming across the plate.

The seesaw affair continued as the Aigles answered back in the second scoring twice knotting the game at 3-3. Ruiz bloop single to center off Boulders starter Bo Budkevics scored Simon Gravel trimming the deficit to 3-2. With runners on the corner and two outs, Ruiz took off for second while Kori Melo sped towards home beating the tag applied by Alex DeBellis.

The Boulders responded in a flash in the bottom half of the frame on a sac fly from Marcus Nidiffer. Kyle La Frenz tied the game up in the third also with a sac fly. Rockland took the lead for good in the fifth on a two-run bases loaded ground double off the bat of Ray Frias. McDonald followed lashing a RBI single to right bringing in Palmer and scored on a throwing error while stealing third base. Mike Fransoso clubbed a double over Gravel in left stretching the advantage to 9-4.

Back came Trois-Rivieres scoring a run on an RBI single from Delvis Morales. Budkevics( 6 innings, 5 runs, 10 hits, 2 BB’s, 4 K’s) wiggled out of the jam getting Daniel Mateo to pop out to short. Pat Butler assumed the pitching duties in the 7th and Bobby Coyle Jr. greeted Butler with a monstrous shot on to the awning in right. Nidiffer gave the Boulders some breathing room in the eighth cranking his third dinger of the season.

“A tough one, and grinder but we’ll take it,” said Keefe. “I thought Bo pitched well enough, controlled the game and pitched to the speed of the game. Big hit for Ray as he as been battling and hitting a lot of line drives that were caught on the home stand.”

“The first couple of innings is what it is, a 10:30 a.m. game, psyche is a little bit off but once you settle in you have to compete,” said Bo Budkevics. “You just have to hit your spots and keep the ball down. I picked up a new pitch, a cutter to get hitters to swing over or under the ball. It makes me fastball and curveball that much better.”

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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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