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Rockland Boulders Grab Another Series, Take Two of Three From Lincoln

The Rockland Boulders may have seen their 11-game winning streak snapped at the hands of the Lincoln Saltdogs but ended up taking two of three games to finish up successful road trip at 8-1. Rockland (50-27) is now five games up on the Quebec Capitales in the Can-Am League standings. The Boulders reduced their magic number to clinch a playoff spot down to eight.

In the series opener, the Boulders led 3-2 entering the ninth inning but closer Luis Sanz hit a bump in the road right off the bat as Tucker White knocked a single past Junior Arrojo leading off the inning. Mike Gilmartin followed laying a sac bunt down the first base line but there was some confusion as whether or not the ball hit Gilmartin, Marcus Nidiffer picked up the ball and air mailed the ball into right field that put runners on the corner.

“The guys saw the ball well early and the wind was helping us out,” said Manager Jamie Keefe. “Luis made good pitches but you can’t put the game in someone else’s hands.”

Sanz(1-2) managed to strike out Brian Joynt but Ryan Wiggins singled past a diving Giuseppe Papaccio into left field scoring Matt Forgatch tying the game up at 3-3. Matt Forgatch was intentionally walked to load up the bases. Sanz was unable to locate the strike zone walking Aaron Payne as Gilmartin scored the game-winning run. Looking for his Can-Am League leading 12th victory, Richard Salazar went 7 2/3 innings, yielding two runs on ten hits while striking out four and walking two but did not factor in the decision.

Rockland lit up the scoreboard early as Jared McDonald crushed a lead off home run over the right field wall. The Saltdogs evened up the game in the bottom half of the frame. The Boulders struck back in the 2nd with Marcus Nidffier clobbering his Can-Am League 18th long ball of the season over the left field fence and Charlie Law following with a missile over the right field fence.

The Boulders wasted no time taking the lead in Game 2 as Marcus Nidiffer smoked his 19th home run of the season, a 3-run blast. Steve Nyisztor blooped a drive into left field scoring Charlie Law extending the lead to 4-0. In the 7th inning, Lincoln scored twice to trim the deficit to 5-2.

With the bases loaded, Daniel Carela worked out of the jam striking two of the three hitters including inducing Mitch Canham into an inning ending ground out. Marcus Jensen pitcher five stellar innings allowing no runs on a three hits while striking out three to pick up his fifth win of the season. Chad Robinson tossed a spotless ninth to record his 1st save of the season.

“Marcus Nidiffer had a great ball game tonight and just an incredible couple of days here for him here at Haymarket Park,” said Keefe. “Marcus Jensen with a great start and nice to see Chad Robinson with his first save of the year.”

Lincoln charged out to an early 2-0 advantage in the rubber match of the series. The Boulders stormed back scoring five times in the top 2nd highlighted by a grand slam off the bat of Stephen Cardullo. In the 5th, Lincoln scored three times to tie the game up at 6-2. Marcus Nidiffer walloped his 3rd home run of the series leading off the 7th giving Rockland a 7-6 lead.

The Saltdogs responded in the bottom of the 7th as Mike Gilmartin belted a double into the right center gap scoring Curt Smith from first base tying the game up at 7-7. Back came Rockland in the top of the 8th as Giuseppe Papaccio led off with a double down the third base line.

Byron Wiley’s sacrifice bunt moved Papaccio to third and Jared McDonald blooped the game-winning hit into left scoring Papaccio giving the Boulders a 8-7 lead. Cardullo provided some cushion driving in his fifth run of the game with a sac fly to center scoring McDonald. Lincoln did not go away quietly in the ninth with Mitch Canham socking a solo shot over the right field wall.

Luis Sanz settled down geting the next 2 outs but ended up walking Tucker White and surrendering a single to Jeremy Hamilton putting runners on the corner with 2 outs. Manager Jamie Keefe called upon Chad Robinson who got Brian Joynt to fly out to left field ending the game and earn his second consecutive save.

“We did some small things and one of the things that goes unseen is Byron Wiley’s bunt as well as drawing a couple of walks,” said Keefe. “This was a big time for Chad Robinson throwing the ball hard at 94 or 95 miles per hour and Luis threw a lot of pitches on the road trip. Daniel Carela has solidified this bullpen and thrown some darts in tight situations.”

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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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