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Boulders wrap up road trip taking two out of three at Ottawa

After swiping three out of four against the Quebec Capitales, the Rockland Boulders wrapped up their seven-game Canadian road trip with a three-game set against the Ottawa Champions at RCGT Park. Making his Rockland Boulders debut in the series opener, right-handed pitcher, Reinaldo Lopez, turned in a solid performance in five innings on the field. He allowed one run on five hits, walked two and struck out three.


“A good outing for him and gave us five good outings, said Manager Kevin Baez. A guy who can definitely throw strikes, knows how to compete and looking forward to his next start”


Trailing 1-0 in the sixth inning, Rockland loaded the bases with two outs. Struggling with runners in scoring having left eight on base up to that point, centerfielder Chase Harris changed that drilling a two-run single back up the middle into centerfield. In the bottom half of the frame, Ottawa had runners on second and third with one out. Steve Brown lifted a fly ball to left field off reliever Nick Kennedy that Mitch Piatnk hauled in. Jiandido Tromp tagged up and attempted to score on the play but Piatnik threw a strike to home plate as Adam Ehlrich applied the tag to end the inning.


Even with the Boulders leaving a grand total of 15 runners on base in the contest, Grant Heyman provided some temporary breathing room cranking a two run single in the eighth. Once again, the Champions threatened loading up the bases with none out forcing Baez to call upon Tim Ponto from the bullpen. After striking out Leonardo Reginatto, Pinto yielded a run on a sac fly from Brown. With runners at second and third, Pinto escaped further damage retiring Jordan Caillouet.


Ottawa did not go quietly in the ninth with runners at first and second and one out. They upped the pressure even more by pulling off a double steal. Tallying a run on a ground ball hit by Maikol Gonzalez to second base, Robbie Gordon slammed the door shut fanning Tromp. Rockland banged out 16 hits with Piatnik going 3 for 6 while Ryne Birk went 4 for 5.


“Aumont dealt against in Rockland last week and one of the top flight pitchers in the league, Baez said. To get a win against him was very impressive, the guys just battled and preaching good at bats”


The Boulder’s struggles with runners in scoring position continued in game two of the series. Ottawa took advantage of their opportunities scoring five times off starting pitcher Pasquale Mazzoccoli (1-1) including smacking two solo home runs. Champions starter, Austin Chrismom, kept Rockland in check hurling six shutout innings, walking two, and striking out seven.


Chase Harris did his best to keep the Boulder’s comeback hopes alive. Going 4 or 4 with two doubles, Harris drove in the first one of the game for Rockland with an RBI single in the ninth. Collin Ferguson followed with a two-run single but that would be the end of the line as Zach Vennaro struck out Grant Heyman to end the game.


In the series finale, Rockland’s inability to cash in with runners in scoring opportunity came back to haunt them early on as Ottawa jumped out to a 2-0 advantage. The Champions continued to bring the heat loading the bases with two outs in the third but starter Justin Valdespina struck out Brian Portelli. Weaving in and out of trouble again in the following inning with runners on the corner and one out, Valdespina got the last two outs.


Finally breaking through against Ottawa starter Danny Garcia in the sixth, Collin Ferguson hammered a RBI double to the right center wall as John Brontsema scored all the way from first base. Jordan Hinshaw tied the contest up belting a single as Fergsuon slid in safely at home plate.


The good vibes would only last a short duration as Andy Mochabee blasted his second home run in the series, a solo missile off Tim Ponto leading off bottom half of the inning. Rockland would catch a much-needed break with a lengthy rain delay at RCGT Park in the top of the ninth.


Once play resumed the Boulders loaded up the bases with one out. With pinch hitter Richie Fecteau at the plate, Fecteau displayed patience drawing a free pass against Austin Glorius. Champions manager, Sebastian Boucher, made the call to the bullpen going with Zach Vennaro. Mitch Piatnik delivered in the clutch belting a two-run single through the home into right field.


Looking to notch his fourth save of the season, Robbie Gordon ran into trouble with issuing back-to-back walks. However, Gordon composed himself and closed it out inducing Vincent Giuglietti on a ground ball to second base. As Nick Kennedy(1-0) picked up the win in relief, the Boulders finished the road trip on a 5-2 note and evened up their overall record at 6-6.


“A great win, nice to see the guys come back and couple of move worked, said Baez. The guys fought through the rain delay and finished it off. Our pitching has been outstanding, had some timely hitting and good defense and formula to win ball games. We are leaving a lot of runners on base, not scoring with runners in scoring position and less than two outs and striking out. We need to cut down on our strikeouts, talked about getting a good pitch early in the count and putting a good swing on it”


Rockland returns to Palisades Credit Union Park for a six-game home stand starting with a three-game series against the Quebec Capitales(4-9) that begins on Friday night with first pitch set for 7:00 p.m. Following a day off, the Boulders welcome in the red-hot Sussex County Miners that are currently 10-2 and in first place in the Can-Am League standings.


“We were 1-4 going on the road trip and have to keep playing well at home, Baez said. Quebec has a good team and Sussex is playing very well. Going on the road is always nice, you are in the hotel and eating lunch together and hanging out. A bunch of great guys on the team, they seem to get along and pull for one another and that’s important and we preach from day one. Be good teammates, supportive and keep the train rolling”

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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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