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Boulders tailspin continues after doubleheader sweep at Sussex County

Rockland’s struggles continued as they lost a doubleheader to Sussex County to fall to fifth place in the Can-Am League.

Rockland Boulders Manager Jamie Keefe is not ready to hit the panic button yet. However, after dropping a doubleheader to Sussex County at Skylands Stadium yesterday, he realizes the recent play of the team is getting old. It is that time of the year the Boulders must reverse course if they are to make the postseason. Rockland (29-28) fell eight and a half games behind the first place Miners.

“We’re in a difficult stretch right now, we’re getting the starting pitching but not hitting,” said Keefe. “Who Knows? At some point, we have to put it together, and some things need to change. We’re going to make the changes we need to get better, and it will happen quick.”

Named the Can-Am League Pitcher of the Week for the second time in less than a month, David Palladino had a solid outing. He tossed five innings while yielding four runs, three of them earned, on six hits and striking out five. The deciding factor was five walks, including back-to-back free passes in the third inning where the Miners plated four runs. Meanwhile, the Boulders bats were stymied by starting pitcher Andrew Vinson hurling a complete game one-hit shutout. Rockland had its opportunities to break through but ended up leaving five on base.

In the second game, Frank Moscatiello took the mound for his first start of the season. He went three and two-thirds surrendering just one run on four hits. The Miners managed to increase their advantage to 3-0 off reliever Andy Lalonde. With a scoreless inning streak reaching 16 innings, Rockland finally broke through in the sixth as Conrad Gregor bashed a two-run missile off starter David Rollins.

Still trailing 3-2 entering the seventh inning, Mikael Mogues drew a one-out walk. Mike Montville provided a clutch hit smacking a drive into the left-center cap as Mogues chugged around the bases and eventually sliding safely at home plate as the contest went into extras.

Sussex County had an opportunity to win it in the eighth with runners at first and second with one out. Boulders closer Kyle Hansen managed to escape the jam coaxing Jarred Mederos into an inning-ending double play. In the ninth, Rockland loaded up the bases with one out, but Miners reliever Kevin Grendell whiffed Mike Montville and Jared McDonald to escape the threat.

Playing under the international tiebreaker rules, Mederos started out at second base. He moved over to third base on a wild pitch uncorked by Tommy Lawrence. Breland Almadova ended it cranking a walk-off base hit to right field.

“Guys on second with a double and on third less than two outs and we can’t get one to the outfield,” Keefe said. “Game after game, we need physical changes to get it down or make a lot of changes in this clubhouse. We’re right on that line of getting better really quickly or be bad for a while, and right now it’s not fun.”

Starting on Thursday night, Rockland will attempt to end a four-game losing skid taking on the Quebec Capitales (35-22) in a four-game series at Palisades Credit Union Park. Last weekend the Capitales swiped three out of four at Stade Canac. The silver lining for the Boulders is not facing Arik Sikula, the league leader in wins with eight. Sikula was also second in the ERA department at 2.51. On July 16 Sikula signed with Saltillo of the Mexican League.

After wrapping up the series against Quebec, the Boulders continue the homestand facing off against the Miners a three-game set. The critical stretch of games continues for Rockland taking on the New Jersey Jackals, where three out of the four games will be at Yogi Berra Stadium. That will be followed by a quick three-game road trip up to Quebec.

“We want to be within striking distance and start winning this series and big four games,” said Keefe. “We may be chasing but playing the teams ahead of us right now.”

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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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