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Rockland Returns Home After Splitting Six Game Canadian Trip

The Rockland Boulders wrapped up their six-game Canadian road trip on a high note taking two of three games against the Ottawa Champions. Rockland went 3-3 and return to Palisades Credit Union Park sporting an 8-5 record and two games behind the New Jersey Jackals in the Can-Am League standings. Rockland will begin a seven-game home stand with the first four games against the Quebec Capitales and finishing up with three against the Trois-Rivieres Aigles.

The teams’ were tied at 2-2 in the 10th inning of game 1 when Alex DeBellis clubbed a double over Champions centerfielder Sebastien Boucher giving Rockland a 4-2 lead. An error by Ottawa shortstop Ryan Brockett on a grounder hit by Ray Frias allowed DeBellis to score from 2nd. The Champions made things interesting in the bottom half of the frame as Boucher scored on a wild pitch tossed by Donnie Joseph. However, Joseph recovered and got Daniel Grauer to fly out to center ending the game. Hector Nelo registered his second win of the season while Joseph recorded his second save.

Rockland quickly jumped out of the gates in game two of the series scoring twice in the first inning. An RBI ground out by Mike Schwartz and Jared Schlehuber belted a single bringing in Junior Arrojo. Ottawa stormed back in the bottom half of the inning scoring on a grounder that was misplayed by Luis Parache at third base with the bases. Kenny Bryant followed slugging a mammoth grand slam off Boulders starting pitcher Markus Solbach to right field giving Ottawa a 5-2 lead. In the second inning, the Champions added a run on a throwing error by Ray Frias to Jared Schlehuber at first.

Solbach settled down retiring the next 12 hitters in a row while hurling 8 innings for a third start in a row. Meanwhile, the Boulders chipped away at the lead against Champions starter Austin Chrismon. With the bases loaded in the 4th, Jared McDonald drew a walk forcing in a run as Mike Montville trotted across home plate. Junior Arrojo followed hitting a grounder to Ryan Garza who attempted a flip throw to Albert Cartwright at second that was dropped by Cartwright as Ray Frias and Luis Parache dashed home trimming the deficit to 6-5.

“Markus throws 26 pitches in the first inning and comes out of the game with 99 and you can’t say enough,” said Manager Jamie Keefe. “He’s been good all season long and throwing the ball like a number one is supposed to do so. Sometimes you get touched up but to recover in the second inning he did great.”

In the 7th inning, newcomer Tyler Clark made an instant contribution mashing an RBI triple to deep center scoring Jared McDonald from second knotting the game up at 6-6. For a third consecutive game in a row, the Boulders went to extra innings. With runners on the corner and two outs in the Top 11th, Alex DeBellis came through in the clutch again lacing a single down the right field line giving Rockland their first lead of the game.

With Kenny Bryant at 3rd and one out in the bottom half, Ryan Garza roped a line drive to shallow right field but Brian Ragira trapped the ball as Bryant crossed home tying the game at 7-7. Boulders relief pitcher Pat Butler yielded a single to Cartwright putting runners at 1st and 2nd. Matt Helms ended the game drilling a single to left as Garza scored the winning run.

Bo Budkevics was the story in the rubber match of the series tossing 8 shutout innings while fanning 11 Ottawa hitters. Jared McDonald gave the Boulders the lead in the 3rd hammering a RBI single into right field. Rockland broke the game wide open in the sixth with the big blow coming off the bat of Junior Arrojo smacking a bases clearing triple into the left center gap. With the 3 runs driven in, Arrojo regained the Can-Am League RBI lead with 19. The only blemish of the night came in the bottom 9th when Kenny Bryant cranked a 2-run blast off Edgar Valle spoiling the shutout.

“That’s as good as I have seen Bo pitch in the last two years,” said Jamie Keefe. “Bo goes to another level when is pitching well. He is just locked in right now which I want to see.”

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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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