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Boulders take three of four from Aigles to open 2015 season

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Before the Rockland Boulders kicked off the 2015 regular season on Thursday evening at Provident Bank Park, the 2014 team received their championship rings for winning the Can-Am League Championship. There was also the unveiling of the championship flag and decal on the green monster wall in the center field.

After the festivities concluded it was time to play ball and the Boulders cruised to a 5-1 victory over the Trois-Rivieres Aigles.

“Richard threw strikes and allowed the defense to play behind him,” said Manager Jamie Keefe. “We had success swinging the bats and got timely hitting.”

Commenting on the pre-game festivities, Keefe added, “It takes your breathe away and a first class way Ken Lehner, Shawn Reily, John Flaherty and Mike Aglialoro did it. It was a lot of fun and a good feeling but it’s time to flip the page because it’s 2015.”

Junior Arrojo 2-run RBI double in the bottom of the third inning put Rockland ahead for good at 3-1. Joe Maloney provided the offensive fireworks with two solo home runs, extending the Boulders lead to 5-1. Starting pitcher Richard Salazar went six innings, yielding one run on five hits, while striking out eight. The relief pitching combination of Nathaniel Roe, Chad Robinson and Sean Lucas shut the door on Trois-Rivieres, scattering two hits while allowing no runs.

“It was a good start to the season and I had a good connection with Marcus Nidiffer on the pitches,” said Salazar.

“I came in ready to play today and got a couple of good pitches to hit,” said Maloney.

“I was just trying to put the ball in play and make something happen,” said Arrojo.

On Friday night, Arrojo produced in the clutch for a second consecutive game with a broken bat 2-run single in the bottom of the sixth inning, extending the Boulders lead to 5-2. Starting pitcher Stephen Harrold managed to work out of a couple early jams to pick up the win in five innings of work while Luis Sanz earned his first save of the season. Stephen Cardullo put Rockland on the board first in the bottom of the fourth with a monstrous solo shot to right center field.

“It’s still early but Stephen threw the ball well enough to get the W,” said Jamie Keefe. “He threw strikes and had trust in his stuff to get ground balls that turned into double plays.”

“Junior is really seeing ball well as it’s the first time in two years he has been healthy,” added Keefe.

Stephen Cardullo reflected on his fourth inning home run, “It was my first at bat and great to get the offense going.”

The Boulders continued their hot hitting on Saturday night, scoring six runs in the bottom half of the seventh to break open a close game en route to 11-7 victory. Jared McDonald led the attack with five runs batted while Ryan Fisher drove in three. Marcus Jensen picked up the win in relief for Rockland.

In the final game of the series, Trois-Rivieres tagged Boulders starting pitcher Min Hur for 10 runs in four innings as the Aigles won 12-5. Jared McDonald, Steve Nyisztor and Stephen Cardullo each had two hits apiece while McDonald drove in two runs. For the series, McDonald had nine hits that were tied with Joe Maloney for the team lead and eight RBI.

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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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