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Boulders wrap up road trip taking 2 out of 3 against Ottawa

Having dropped three out of four at Trois-Rivieres, the Rockland Boulders concluded their seven-game Canadian road trip with a three-game series against the Ottawa Champions (25-29) at RCGT Park. The Boulders starting pitching delivered in the three game series with Reinaldo Lopez and JD Busfield each going seven innings in their starts.  Busfield picked up his second win on the road trip while improving his overall record to 5-1 on the season and Lopez (4-3) registering his fourth victory.


Rockland’s bullpen came through with the duo of Nick Kennedy and Robbie Gordon, tossing four innings and permitting just one run, one hit, one walk and striking out five. Relief pitcher Jake Zokan (0-3) got his first win of the season in the middle game. Despite yielding two runs on three hits and surrendering a home run, Zokan managed to strike out six in four innings on the mound.


Manager Kevin Baez on the Ottawa series; “We were going into Ottawa needing to take two out of three and did that. Two good starting pitchers and in the other game you tip your hat to (Phillippe) Aumont who was outstanding and a good pitcher. The formula to winning baseball is not rocket science, it’s whoever is going to catch the ball, throw the ball and minimize the mistakes and example of yesterday’s game we bunted, they threw the ball away and we scored two runs. The day before they bunted and we didn’t get any outs and we lost the game”


“Things like that are so important and why we work on them and do the fundamentals as much as possible, minimize mistake and stay out of big innings and the guys responded in yesterday’s game. (Les) Lancaster is one of the best pitching coaches I have ever been around, always working with the guys and re-iterating on pounding the strike zone, being confident in your pitches and throwing it. Les preaches throwing strikes and making defense and playing for you. Nick and Robbie have been outstanding, Kennedy has struggled of late but has been a workhorse, takes the ball every time and does a fine job and Gordon as well. If we can get our starting pitchers to give us six innings it will strengthen our bullpen and keep everyone fresh, healthy and help us out in the long run. Zokan had a good outing, first time starting and get him to give us five or six innings. We added Alex Fishberg before the road trip, a couple of shaky outings but settled down, has a power arm, a local kid and realizing how special it is to be part of the Rockland Boulders family and team”


Blake Grant-Parks led the charge offensively, going 7 for 12 at the plate with four RBI’s, increasing his batting average to a team leading .355 and extending his hitting streak to 10 games. Richie Fecteau went 4 for 11 with three runs and one driven in, Matt Oberste 3 for 11, four runs scored and two RBI’s. After missing the first four games of the road trip due to an injury sustained in the Can-Am League vs. Frontier League All-Star Game last week, second baseman Ryne Birk went 2 for 7 with two runs scored and one RBI.


“Blake is a guy I didn’t know too much about when we started spring training and kept playing himself into more playing time, wanting the at bats and kept playing and proven he deserves it and does is another fine job wherever I put him, said Baez. Richie is another guy I didn’t know too much about coming into spring training. When he takes BP you see the ball jumping off his bat, plays good defense whether in the outfield or infield and gives good quality at bats. His average is not quite there but power numbers are and finds himself getting at bats”


“I told the guys you play and perform you are going to play but if you don’t you are not going to play and guys understand that and it’s a pressurized game but try to minimize it and make them have fun but tat the end of the day they have to do their job. Ryne with a little setback getting injured in the All-Star Game, cautious with him and ready to go and played the last two games and day off helped”


After a day off on Thursday, the Boulders return to action on Friday night, opening up an 11 game home stand at Palisades Credit Union Park.  They welcome in the first place Sussex County Miners (34-17) for a three-game series. Currently Rockland sits in fifth place in the standings with a 24-30 record and are 11 ½ games back of the Miners. Sussex County has won 8 of 12 games played this season between both teams.


“We need to start playing better at home, hopefully starts tomorrow but a good ending to the road trip, Baez said. Where we started out slow but we ended up 2 out of 3 at Ottawa. Playing a good team in Sussex County, we need to minimize our mistakes and take one game at a time but happy to get our home stand started at Palisades Credit Union Park”

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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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