Boulders swept by Kansas City T-Bones
Coming off a successful 4-0 Canadian road trip and riding a 6-game winning streak the Rockland Boulders had all the momentum going but ran into a buzz saw offense in the Kansas City T-Bones of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball as the T-Bones swept the 3 game set at Provident Bank Park scoring 20 runs in the series.
In the series opener, neither team could ride quality outings from their starting pitchers’ as Alex Gouin and Blake Holovach both went 7 innings without yielding run, it took until the 9th inning for the deadlock to be broken. With runners on 1st and 3rd, Kansas City centerfielder Robby Zuzdale blooped a single into left field scoring Jack Blackwood for the lone run of the game.
Rockland had an opportunity to tie the game up in the bottom half of the frame as Joe Maloney led off with a single, advanced to second a sac bunt by Marcus Nidiffer and moved over to third on a ground out from Ryan Fisher. However, Charlie Law fanned to end the game. In addition T-Bones right fielder Andrew Bailey robbed Stephen Cardullo of a round tripper in the 6th reaching over the wall in the Short Porch section.
“That is good as a pitched performance I have seen against us this year,” said Manager Jamie Keefe. “We hit some balls really hard into the gap but they caught them,” added Keefe.
The T-Bones jumped to a 2-0 advantage in first inning of the second game of the series on a booming home run on to the concourse in left field by Jack Blackwood. After a wild 2-6-5-2-5-3-6 putout when Kansas City second baseman Ryan Cavan got caught in a rundown between third and home, Andrew Bailey lifted a sac to right making the score 3-0. In the top 5th, the T-Bones padded their lead on a long as Blackwood drove in his 3rd run of the game on a long towering single off the base of the right field wall.
Rockland broke a 16 inning plus scoreless streak in the 6th as Stephen Cardullo belted a ball off the top of the mammoth 403-foot green centerfield wall bringing in Giuseppe Papaccio all the way from first but Cardullo was thrown out at 3rd attempting to stretch the play into a triple. Ryan Fisher 2-run moonshot in the 7th cut the lead down to one run.
Kansas City responded in the top 8th as Kyle Robinson led off socking a solo shot into the left field bleachers. Mike Tenbrink gave the T-Bones a cushion lead lacing a bases-loaded 2-run single making it 7-3. With the Boulders trailing 8-3 in the 9th, Giuseppe Papaccio lined a triple past Tenbrink in left field. Jared McDonald’s ground out made it 8-6 but that is as close Rockland would get as Stephen Cardullo flied out to end the game.
“An up-down game as Doran threw the ball real well for them” said Manager Jamie Keefe. “We’re facing a 98 percent defense that does not make any errors at all,” added Keefe. “You have to put the pressure on but we were too aggressive which we have to stop doing”
Coming into the series finale, Rockland starting pitcher Rich Salazar had yet to taste a defeat this season with a record of 6-0. The Boulders jumped to the early advantage scoring 3 times in the bottom of the 1st. Ryan Fisher mashed a 2-run triple to the left center gap. Charlie ripped a 2-out RBI single back up the middle into center making it 3-0.
The T-Bones chipped away at the lead in the 3rd scoring twice on an Andrew Bailey RBI single and Kyle Robinson RBI ground out. It turned out to be the 4th inning where the wheels came off for Salazar. After Brian Erie’s sac fly tied the game up at 3-3, the key decisive play occurred when Ryan Fisher bobbled the ball on a squeeze bunt grounder hit by Ryan Cavan. A RBI ground out by Mike Tenbrink increased the advantage to 4-3. Kansas City then strung together four consecutive hits scoring five additional runs pushing the lead to 9-3. The-T-Bones sent 11 batters to the plate in the inning with six of the runs being unearned.
Rockland answered back in the bottom 5th scoring four times. Marcus Nidiffer cranked an RBI triple to dead center, Charlie Law clubbed an RBI single into center and Junior Arrojo drilled a 2-run double down the left field line reducing Kansas City’s margin down to 9-7.
The-T-Bones flexed some muscle in the 7th and 8th innings on solo homer runs off the bats of Robby Kuzdale and Jack Blackwood to boost their lead to 11-7.
“The big inning you give up 7 but only one of those runs was earned” said Manager Jamie Keefe. “Errors on the board, you can’t miss the cutoff man, let guys move up and mental errors lead to a bunch of runs” added Keefe. “We had our opportunities in the 7th and 8th but just couldn’t do it”
Sunil Sunder Raj
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