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After a quick 3-game trip to Trois-Rivieres, Canada, the Rockland Boulders returned to Palisades Credit Union Park taking on a red-hot squad in the New Jersey Jackals. So far this season, Rockland had taken five out of the seven games played against the Jackals.

Before a near capacity crowd, Boulders starter Brett Palanski did not even make it out of the first inning as New Jersey tagged Palanski for four runs. Down 5-0 in the second, Jon Smith got Rockland on the board by smashing his 10th round tripper of the season into the “Short Porch” area in right field. With runners on first & second and two outs, Aaron Wilson belted a drive to the warning track in right field but Johnny Bladel made a leaping grab to end the inning.

The Boulders managed to draw within two runs in the third. New Jersey starter Isaac Pavlik walked Joe Maloney with the bases loaded as Maloney added his league-leading 56th RBI of the season followed by a sacrifice fly from Mike Montville. However, the Jackals offense flexed its muscles on this night by ripping off six runs in the fourth to break the game wide open.

“Tough start, we’re 44 games in and first time we have not had tying or go ahead run at the plate” said Boulders manager Jamie Keefe. “Brett got off to a rough start and one of those days” “We battled back in the fifth but couldn’t hold them down” “They are not going to give in like we do and pitching against us” “We have to keep doing what we have to do and keep swinging it”

Down 1-0 after the top 1st, Joe Maloney quickly put Rockland ahead by driving in his league-leading 57th and 58th RBI’s, ripping a double over left fielder Brain Joynt. New Jersey wasted very little time going back on top behind one swing off the bat of Brain Burgamy who went 5-for-5 the night before clubbing a two-run blast just inside the foul pole in right field.

The see-saw contest continued in the third with Jon Smith crushing his second home run in last two games and 11th of the season into the right-center bleachers. New Jersey answered back in the fourth with clutch two out hits. Yariel Vargas tied the game with a double into the left field corner followed by Bladel smacking a two-bagger down the third base line.

Boulders starter Markus Solbach encountered more trouble as the Jackals tacked on five more runs. Undefeated at 6-0 entering the game, Solbach (6-1) surrendered 10 runs on 10 hits.

“We’re not attacking against hitters, not throwing in control and spotting our fastball” Keefe said. “45 games in and first three-game skid” “We only can control what we control and if Carmain can go out tomorrow and throw strikes and keep them off -balance and we play good defense behind him and swing bats”

“It stinks we lost in front of 3rd and 4th biggest crowds” “We played 3 games in 24 hours and start to get tired” “We have a good group and everybody trying to do it by themselves and can’t once you get down” “They know what they’re doing and not 2nd team in the league in hitting and we have to make adjustments pitching wise and hit our spots and when we don’t do that have to go to our bullpen early” “We need to calm their bats down a little bit and control them”

Both teams had an early turnaround playing an 11 a.m. game and the effects showed with Rockland starter Chris Carmain and Jackals starter Andres Caceres. In the top of the 2nd, Brian Burgamy went deep for a second time in the series pelting his 10th of the season. Mike Montville responded in the bottom half of the frame with his 8th home run of the year.

After swiping both second and third base in the third inning, Dylan Tice took a gamble by darting home but Caceres threw a laser as Adam Martin applied the tag for the final out. Rockland had a multitude of scoring opportunities despite being held to one hit through for the first several innings by Caceres ending up stranding nine runners on base.

In the fifth with runners on second and third and one out, Bladel put the Jackals ahead with a sac fly to left field. Carmain departed after 6 1/3 innings with the bases loaded and one out.  Matt Kostalos entered and served up a ground a ball to Bladel and with Cody Regis coming on the play the ball skipped by Alex Herceg, allowing Taylor Brennan to score safely. Dvontrey Richardson put the game away swatting the first pitch from closer Jon Velasquez into the left field bleachers.

“We didn’t play a good baseball game but Chris(Carmain) gave us a good opportunity to win and had nine base runners on but didn’t get them in and happens” “He has been really good for us, keep him rolling and out there”

The Boulders’ (32-14) first-place lead has been trimmed to two games over the Quebec Capitales and New Jersey Jackals. Next u Rockland takes on the Sussex County Miners in a four-game series with three of them at Skylands Stadium in Augusta, New Jersey. Both teams started the regular season with a five game set with the Boulders sweeping the series. After a rough start, the Miners are 23-20 and 7 1/2 games out of first place.

“We’re looking ahead to the next four and get through today and see if we can get back on track and be ready to go” said Keefe. “Just one win from getting back where we were and one of those hills we have to climb”

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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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