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Boulders wrap up 2018 regular season splitting four game series at Ottawa

Heading into the final four games of the 2018 regular season at Ottawa, Rockland Boulders Manager Jamie Keefe said the objective was to get the pitching rotation in order going into the playoffs and getting some pitchers who had not pitched in a while some innings on the mound. In the first games of the series against the Ottawa Champions at RCGT Park, the Boulders received solid pitching performances from David Palladino and Justin Brantley.

In the series opener, Rockland held a 2-0 advantage until the Champions tied the contest up in the eighth. After Steve Brown as hit by a pitch, Keefe was ejected from the game. Eventually, Ottawa won the game in 10 innings. In his first start since August 6, Brantley tossed 2 1/3 innings, allowing three runs, two of them earned on five innings and striking out two. The Boulders managed to trim Ottawa’s lead to 3-2 in the fourth on a two-out two run double from Conor Bierfeldt but that as close it would get as the Champions scored the next 10 runs to blow the game wide open.

Fresh off his first win in a Rockland uniform at Trois-Rivieres, Chris Pennell picked up where he left off yielding just two runs through seven innings of work. Bierfeldt gave the Boulders an early lead clubbing a two-run bomb over the left field wall. A scary moment occurred in the fourth when Mike Montville crashed against the left field wall on a fly ball hit by Jordan Caillouet. Up 5-2 in the eighth, Sebastien Bouncher changed the scoreboard with one swing of the bat, slugging a two-run jack over the right field wall.

Nick Kennedy entered the game with runners at first and second with two outs, making Can-Am League history in the process with his 53rd appearance of the season breaking the record held by New Jersey Jackals right-handed pitcher Robert Stock in 2016. However, Cycle Figueroa managed to flick a single back up the middle into center field bringing in Caillouet to tie the contest. The game would eventually go to extra innings where Bierfeldt played the role of hero for Rockland, walloping his second round tripper of the game and 19th of the season. The Champions refused to go away quietly in the bottom half of the frame with runners at first and second none out against Kyle Hansen. Displaying no fear Hansen calmly worked out of the jam retiring the side in order to notch his 18th save of the year.

In the series finale, the Boulders wasted no time putting the game out of reach sprinting out to a 6-0 after the first inning. Brad Schaenzer (2-4) turned in a quality start, going seven innings surrendering three runs on eight hits while walking two and fanning three. Cody Regis and Kevin Krause each drove in three runs apiece while Jason Agresti tacked on two as Rockland won 9-3.

Regis belted his team leading 22nd home run as the Boulders had 8 eight players in double figures and finished with a league record 146 home runs. Meanwhile Krause led the team in hitting with a .331 average, 115 hits, 30 doubles and 68 runs scored.

The Boulders locked up third place in the Can-Am League standings, finishing up with a mark of 54-48 and will face the Quebec Capitales (58-44) in the first round of the playoffs starting on Wednesday night at Palisades Credit Union Park with first pitch slated for 7:00 p.m. This marks the third time in three years the teams’ have squared off in the postseason.

Keefe on the series at Ottawa, “Time to make some choices with this roster for the playoffs and we’re just trying to figure out what we’re doing and where we’re headed. We’re swinging the bats well and nice to see Conor (Bierfeldt) break out, Conrad (Gregor) with a bunch of hits in this series, (Marcus) Nidiffer with a big one yesterday and more importantly got (Cody) Regis going. A little scary with (Mike) Montville but he is fine and didn’t break his nose and came off the wall pretty hard.”

“The last couple of days is what we needed to see and guys are ready to go and excited about getting out there. It’s go time and we checked of all our boxes. It was a grind for sure, as a staff we did everything we could to keep this ship heading in the right direction and into the playoffs. All about getting in, doesn’t matter where you finish and just get a shot. There were times we didn’t know if we would get there with all the injuries, change and turnover and we had to make some important changes and seemed to all work out for us.”

“The health of guys we had in question is not questioned anymore. We were at the point we needed to add guys, lucky enough to have guys like (Brian) Ernst and (Justin) Brantley who we needed to get back and not in the best of condition a month ago and gave them time to get healthy. (Chris) Pennell, (Josh) McClain, Frankie (Moscatiello) took it by themselves to get us back to that point. Nothing will go unseen the job Frank Moscatiello did this year the team in ERA (2.78) and everyday guy.”

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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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