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Rockland Drops Two of Three To Sussex County Miners

(Photo by Sunil Sunder Raj - Double G Media)

(Photo by Sunil Sunder Raj – Double G Media)


Heading into their three-game series against the Sussex County Miners on Tuesday, the Rockland Boulders were riding a wave of momentum having swept the Ottawa Champions and winners of five in a row moving to 13 games over .500 mark and within a half-game of the Quebec Capitales for first place in the Can-Am League. Rockland had taken 8 of the 11 meeting with the Miners this season.

“Anytime you win five or six games in a row is huge and one big thing is we’re scratching and clawing for every run we get,” Manager Jamie Keefe said.

In the series opener at Skylands Stadium , David Fischer(4-2) continued his dominance over the Miners having already not allowed a run in 10 innings tossed 8 1/3 innings while striking out 11 hitters. Meanwhile, Mike Montville delivered in the clutch once again belting two-run double in the 4th inning. Junior Arrojo extendd his on base streak to 74 games drawing a walk in the fifth.

The Boulders would provide Fischer some added cushion tacking on two more runs in the seventh. Named Can-Am League Player of The Week, Devin Harris lived up to the billing socking his third home run in the eighth.

Fischer was lifted with one out in the ninth as Manager Jamie Keefe called upon Liarvis Breto. Sussex County first baseman Chris Jacobs broke up the shutout lashing a two-run double into the left-center gap. Breto recovered and struck out former Boulder Steve Nyisztor to end the game.

“From the first pitch he(David Fischer) had control firing strikes, getting ahead early and throwing hard,” said Keefe. “He had a good feel for the strike zone and pretty dominant right now stringing a couple of starts together and out his work in.”

“Montville got on a 3-1 count and hit the baseball real well,” Keefe added. “We were able to get out to a lead and add on. When we take extra bases and put pressure on the other team that’s where we need to be. Devin’s starting to see it now and put the ball in play. He wins player of the week and starting to have fun now.”

The series switched back to Palisades Credit Union Park for game two of the series where another former Boulder Alex DeBellis greeted Rockland starter rudely in the third inning clearing the bases with a towering grand slam on to the concourse in left field. Making his second start of the season, Sanz was roughed up yielding six runs on seven hits in three innings on the mound.

Meanwhile, Miner starter Francisco Rodriguez kept the Rockland lineup in check until the fifth when Jared McDonald lined a single scoring Elvin Soto. Rodriguez went the distance allowing two runs on five hits fanning eight and walking four. Mike Montville clubbed his seventh round tripper of the year in ninth. Junior Arrojo aiming to tie teammate Jared McDonald’s record on-base streak of 75 games went 0 for 4 at the plate.

“Luis was behind all day and has to figure it out,” said Keefe. “It’s been awhile since he has pitched and on his bullpen days we have to straighten it out and go from there.”

Game three of the series returned back to Sussex County and featured a see-saw battle with the Miners jumping to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning. The Boulders stormed back in the third with Ed Charlton leading off with a double. Jared McDonald stepped up to the plate and rocked a triple into the right-center gap bringing in Charlton. Junior Arrojo followed driving a double down the third base line scoring McDonald.

Sussex County responded in the bottom half of the frame on a Nick Giarraputo RBI double off the top of the right field wall and Chris Jacobs knocked home Giarraputo crushing a two-bagger also off the right field wall.

The momentum swung back in Rockland’s favor in the sixth with Pat McKenna reaching on an error and came all the way around to score on a Marcus Nidiffer double into the left-center gap. Mike Fransoso clobbered a triple over the head of Miners centerfielder Jay Austin tying the game at 4-4. Mike Montville kept the scoring going ripping a comebacker past new Miners pitcher Michael Suk into center field as Fransoso trotted home making it 5-4.

However, the lead would be short lived as Nate Irving drilled a RBI double in the bottom half of the inning. With Brenden Webb at the plate, a defensive meltdown ensued as Pat Butler uncorked a wild pitch allowing Iriving to advance to third base. Marcus Nidiffer attempted to pick off Irving at third base but the ball skipped by Mike Fransoso as Irving darted home for the go-ahead run. In the ninth, Miners closer Jesse Beal retired the side in order. Mike Adams(3-2) shouldered the loss surrendering five runs on ten hits in 5 2/3 innings on the hill.

“A well-played game by both teams, some sloppiness, well-pitched and gritty between two team playing for their lives,” Keefe said. “Mike Adams threw the ball well enough not to get that loss. We have some hurdles to jump over and things aren’t going to be easy.”

Rockland returns to Palisades Credit Union Park on Friday for a three-game series against the Ottawa Champions. Currently, the Boulders are tied with the New Jersey Jackals for second place in the Can-Am League with identical records at 35-23 and half-game behind the Quebec Capitales for first place.

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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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