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Sunil Sunder Raj

Rockland Boulders

Boulders split abbreviated two game series against New Jersey

After getting swept one week prior, the Rockland Boulders gained a level of revenge as they split their two-game series against the New Jersey Jackals.

Having dropped five of their last six games, the Rockland Boulders returned home to open up a six-game homestand at Palisades Credit Union Park. They welcomed in the New Jersey Jackals, who had just swept a three-game set the week before from Rockland. The series included a heated finale with both benches emptying at Yogi Berra Stadium.

In the 11 a.m. series opener, Rockland rolled out another new starting pitcher in Edgar De La Rosa. After surrendering a second-inning leadoff home run to Richard Stock, De La Rosa settled down retiring seven at one juncture. The right-hander threw five innings, allowing one run on four hits and striking out three.

Richie Fecteau continued to swing a scorching bat clubbing his third home run in the past four games, his 11th homer of the season. Grant Heyman put the Boulders up for good smoking a solo missile off the awning deep inside the Short Porch area in right field leading off the fifth inning. He joined the double-digit club in home runs with his tenth of the year. Marcos Almonte provided some breathing room with a run-producing single into center field.

With the Boulders leading 5-1 in the seventh, New Jersey loaded up the bases with one out. Nick Kennedy worked out of the jam getting Nelson Ward to ground into a double play. Rockland’s bullpen turned in another strong performance. They pitched four shutout innings and yielded just three hits preserving De La Rosa’s first win in a Boulders uniform in the 6-1 victory. Heyman led the way driving three runs in the win, that snapped Rockland’s two-game losing skid.

Richie Fecteau on the home run streak and win: “Over the past week or two, I’ve been trying to make a couple of changes offensively with a different approach with each at-bat. I’m relaxed and I see the pitches I want to hit. I had an opportunity and took advantage of it making the best of it. All I can control and doing a decent job.”

“In the first half, we were not getting that timely hitting as a team. That changed in the second half. We are driving in the runs when we needed them and it’s a different change that’s really nice to have. We’re fighting to make the playoffs and every win is important. Today was a nice one and to get back at them.

“You still have to stay loose and come to the ballpark, ready to play and have fun. As long as you remember it’s a game you can enjoy it. When we’re clicking, we are a very good team. A lot of pop in the bats and one through nine is very tough to beat.”

Grant Heyman on the victory: “The series in Quebec did not go the way we wanted to. New Jersey is a good team and ahead of us in the standings, so it’s a really big win for us. It’s a good rivalry with New Jersey, any chance we have to beat them is a good thing for us. They are a really good ball club. They can hit, a lot of good pitching and bullpen. Two out hitting is huge and we got to cash guys in with runners in scoring position. If we can do that we will be alright.”

After rain washed out Wednesday’s game at Yogi Berra Stadium, the series concluded on Thursday night back at Palisades Credit Union Park. Once again Mother Nature wreaked havoc delaying the start of the game by 54 minutes. Once the game got underway, the Jackals wasted no time jumping out to a 3-0 advantage against Boulders starting pitcher Reinaldo Lopez. However, Rockland received a significant boost in the bottom half of the frame. Returning to the lineup after almost a week out due to an injury, John Brontsema blasted a three-run home run.

Lopez and New Jersey starter Justin Brantley both settled down after a wild first inning with zeros up on the scoreboard the next five innings. In the seventh, the floodgates opened up again as the Jackals teed off tallying six runs. Just when it seemed the Boulders were finished, back-to-back home runs from Ryne Birk and Matt Oberste closed the gap to 9-7. That would be as close as Rockland would get as New Jersey tacked on three more runs for the 12-7 win in a game that lasted almost three and a half hours. Both teams’ combined for 19 runs, 28 hits, and two errors.

Manager Kevin Baez on the series: “De La Rosa pitched well and the bullpen was outstanding. We had a wash out the next day and yesterday the game was 3-3 in the first inning. Both starters settled down and everything they hit in the seventh inning started to fall. I like the way the guys fought back offensively. They have a good offensive powerhouse throughout the lineup and proved it.”

“John Brontsema has been playing well all year. To have him and Katsuya back in the lineup definitely extends it. Moving ahead hopefully they don’t have any more injuries and we go back to winning baseball.”

Rockland (34-38) faces off against the Quebec Capitales (28-44) this weekend in a three-game series with the opener set for 7 p.m. on Friday night. Last weekend Quebec took two out of three from Rockland, including back-to-back one-run victories.

“Quebec is a team fighting to get ahead of us. We need to take care of business this weekend,” said Baez. “They made some moves and guys coming back from the Pan-Am games, so we need to play better baseball. It all starts tonight. We’re in the stretch run so every game is important. We got a little breathing room but not too much. It’s always important to play good baseball heading into the playoffs because you feel good about your chances and what we want to do.”

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Sunil Sunder Raj

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