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 Photo by Drew Wohl

After leading the Can-Am League and the Rockland Boulders in wins with 14 this season, a first-time All-Star, a pitcher of the week in June and finishing up the regular season with a dominant shutout victory against the Ottawa Champions, starter Justin Topa backed up that résumé on Friday night in Game 2 of the Can-Am League Playoffs. Against the New Jersey Jackals at Yogi Berra Stadium in Montclair, New Jersey, Topa tossed a complete game four-hit gem.“Alex (Herceg) and I were on the same page all night and made the pitches when I needed to and tried to slow the game as much as I could,” said Justin Topa. “A big game and we needed to keep rolling along going back to our place.”

“Alex (Herceg) and I were on the same page all night and made the pitches when I needed to and tried to slow the game as much as I could,” said Justin Topa. “A big game and we needed to keep rolling along going back to our place.”“Absolutely dominant and fun to watch,” said Boulders manager Jamie Keefe. “You don’t see a much better performance than that at any level and 94-96 all day.”

“Absolutely dominant and fun to watch,” said Boulders manager Jamie Keefe. “You don’t see a much better performance than that at any level and 94-96 all day.”Back on the hill for the bottom of the ninth inning, Topa had thrown only 81 pitched but ran into some trouble allowing a walk to Johnny Bladel. Down 3-0 to Rylan Sandoval, Topa came back to strike out Sandoval. Next up was Art Charles who belted single to right field.

Back on the hill for the bottom of the ninth inning, Topa had thrown only 81 pitched but ran into some trouble allowing a walk to Johnny Bladel. Down 3-0 to Rylan Sandoval, Topa came back to strike out Sandoval. Next up was Art Charles who belted single to right field.Attempting to close it out, Topa engaged in a ten pitch battle with Can-Am League Designated hitter of the Year Brian Burgamy as Topa’s pitch count topped 100 pitches. On his 107th pitch, Topa mustered enough energy to strike out Burgamy to end the game and gain his 11th strikeout of the night.

Attempting to close it out, Topa engaged in a ten pitch battle with Can-Am League Designated hitter of the Year Brian Burgamy as Topa’s pitch count topped 100 pitches. On his 107th pitch, Topa mustered enough energy to strike out Burgamy to end the game and gain his 11th strikeout of the night.

“Legs got a little jelly out there and after a long half inning and tried to make one pitch at a time,” said Topa. “Going against Burgamy, arguably one of the best hitters in the league, and tried to throw everything at him and got him on a breaking ball.”Once again Rockland jumped out to an early advantage, this time manufacturing a run. With runners on corners and two outs in the second inning, a pitch from Jackals starter David Richardson skipped by catcher Adam Martin allowing Cody Regis to score.

Once again Rockland jumped out to an early advantage, this time manufacturing a run. With runners on corners and two outs in the second inning, a pitch from Jackals starter David Richardson skipped by catcher Adam Martin allowing Cody Regis to score.Both Topa and Richardson were racking up the strikeouts early in the game with Topa recording five through first three innings and Richardson registering six. However, Mike Montville lit up the scoreboard clobbering a two-out, two-run homer deep over the left field wall in the fourth.

Both Topa and Richardson were racking up the strikeouts early in the game with Topa recording five through first three innings and Richardson registering six. However, Mike Montville lit up the scoreboard clobbering a two-out, two-run homer deep over the left field wall in the fourth.The Boulders defense sparkled on this night with Regis and shortstop Mike Fransoso making several nifty defensive plays. Tempers flared in the fifth inning when Joe Dunigan hit a ground ball to Fransoso whose throw went wide of first base but incredibly, first baseman Daniel Arribas tagged the base with his glove before Dunigan stepped on the base. Upset by the call, Dunigan voiced his displeasure and was ejected by field umpire Freddy DeJesus.

The Boulders defense sparkled on this night with Regis and shortstop Mike Fransoso making several nifty defensive plays. Tempers flared in the fifth inning when Joe Dunigan hit a ground ball to Fransoso whose throw went wide of first base but incredibly, first baseman Daniel Arribas tagged the base with his glove before Dunigan stepped on the base. Upset by the call, Dunigan voiced his displeasure and was ejected by field umpire Freddy DeJesus.Topa continued to breeze through retiring the side in order five times during the game, throwing only 62 pitches heading into the seventh inning. The fielding gem of the night belonged to Joe Maloney. Jackals’ first baseman Art Charles launched a deep fly to the warning track in right field, only to watch Maloney make a spectacular leaping grab robbing Charles of a home run.

Topa continued to breeze through retiring the side in order five times during the game, throwing only 62 pitches heading into the seventh inning. The fielding gem of the night belonged to Joe Maloney. Jackals’ first baseman Art Charles launched a deep fly to the warning track in right field, only to watch Maloney make a spectacular leaping grab robbing Charles of a home run.Picking up where he left off the night before, the red-hot Daniel Arribas put the game out of reach belting a two-run single into left field in the ninth inning. Arribas increased his series totals to 4-for-8 with four RBI’s while Cody Regis ( 2 for 4) scored his third run of the game in the ninth. Regis is also 4-for-8 in the series.

Picking up where he left off the night before, the red-hot Daniel Arribas put the game out of reach belting a two-run single into left field in the ninth inning. Arribas increased his series totals to 4-for-8 with four RBI’s while Cody Regis ( 2 for 4) scored his third run of the game in the ninth. Regis is also 4-for-8 in the series.“

“Tough when I got hurt and being out for so long and know when I came back it would take awhile to get back into my groove and luckily clicking at the right time. A good time to be aggressive, saw an opportunity there especially with the guys are hitting behind me and get in scoring position and make their jobs easier. The way Justin pitched tonight we had to do everything to back him up and when a pitcher gets on that type of roll easy to play defense behind him.”“One of

“One of things that goes unseen tonight is we dropped down two sacrifice bunts in the game and Cody and Daniel are swinging hot bats right now. Daniel reminds of when he first got here and on fire and happy to be playing again and played a great first base tonight and one play up the line and making a fantastic play coming back to the bag. A huge home run by Mike (Montville).”

The Boulders now hold a commanding 2-0 series lead heading back to Palisades Credit Union Park, where Rockland went 35-19 during the regular season. The Boulders and Jackals play Game 3 Saturday at 6:35 p.m.

Keefe is wary of being overconfident due to last year’s Can-Am League championship series against the Ottawa Champions when Rockland won the first two games in Ottawa before dropping the last three at home.

“We need to go in and play the same game,” Keefe said. “We have to go home and take care of it and these guys smell blood and have to keep going.”

Sunil Sunder Raj

Sunil Sunder Raj

Sunil is the Rockland Boulders Beat Writer for DoubleGSports.com and also covers North Jersey High School Sports
Sunil Sunder Raj
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