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Boulders Take Two of Three From Sussex County Miners

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The Rockland Boulders relied on solid pitching performances allowing the Boulders to take the remaining two games of a three-game set against the Sussex County Miners at Provident Bank Park. Rockland finished up their 7-game home stand going 6-1 to remain atop 1st place in the Can-Am League standings with an overall record of 19-11.

With Tuesday’s game postponed due to rain, both teams’ squared off Wednesday for a doubleheader. In Game 1, Boulders starting pitcher Alex Gouin dominated on the mound hurling 6 shutout innings while giving up just one hit on only 60 pitches tossed. In his last 11 innings pitched, Gouin has been dominant yielding no runs while just surrendering three hits, walking one and fanning eight.

“I just pounded away getting ahead of hitters and keeping the ball low today,” said Alex Gouin. “With a strong defense it makes things a lot easier. It feels good to come up big because I am the youngest on the pitching staff and the team can count on me”

Joe Maloney got going things early smacking a solo shot over the Short Porch wall in the 2nd inning. Rockland stretched the advantage in the bottom of the 4th on RBI fielder’s choice from Marcus Nidiffer. The big separation came off Charlie Law’s 2 run towering blast well over the Short Porch wall giving the Boulders a 4-0 cushion. In the 5th, Rockland added to their lead on an RBI triple by Jared McDonald and Stephen Cardullo sac fly.

“Alex went out there and threw pitches that made Sussex County use the big part of the ballpark,” said Manager Jamie Keefe. “Throwing strikes make the game a lot easier.”

Gouin carried a perfect game into the Top of the 5th but with one out Kenny Bryant broke it up with a bloop single to left field. The Boulders defense stepped up and delivered with spectacular catches from Joe Maloney and Stephen Cardullo.

Fresh off earning his first win of the season last Friday, Boulders starting pitcher Mike Dennhardt tossed five innings of shutout ball while surrendering two hits, walking four and striking out one. Rockland jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the bottom 2nd. Junior Arrojo hammered a line drive that ricocheted off the leg of Miners centerfielder Reggie Abercrombie allowing Charlie Law to score from second base.

“Mike Dennhardt had better fastball command than he has had all year long,” said Manager Jamie Keefe. “It really helps when you have a defense playing behind you. Junior is really seeing the ball and staying healthy with the days off”

Sussex County had runners on 1st and 2nd with one out in the top 3rd but Dennhardt worked out of the jam getting Abercrombie to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. In the 5th inning, Miners robbed Steve Nyisztor of a home run leaping in front of the Short Porch wall in right field. However, Joe Maloney ripped a double to the right center field gap scoring Jared McDonald all the way from first base.

The Boulders added a couple of insurance runs in the 6th on a RBI single by Giuseppe Papaccio and fielder’s choice by Junior Arrojo. Luis Sanz was handed the ball in the 7th inning and ran into some trouble with runners on 1st and 2nd and one out. Sanz recovered and got the last 2 outs to seal the victory.

“Today was all about pitching as they attacked the zone and set the tone,” said Junior Arrojo. “It’s our job to play defense behind them and we were in a groove today. We have a lot of confidence in our lineup 1 through 9”

In the opening game of the series, Sussex County raced out to a 1-0 lead in the 2nd on a titanic home run off the bat of Kenny Bryant. The Miners made it 2-0 as Carlos Hughes beat out an infield single scoring Chris Valencia.

The Boulders trimmed the lead to 2-1 in the bottom half of the inning on a sac fly by Junior Arrojo. However, in the 3rd Devin Thaut hit a bullet down the right field line that Stephen Henderson was unable to field cleanly as the ball trickled into the bullpen area allowing Thaut to end up at third base. The next batter Reggie Abercrombie socked a single into left field scoring Thaut. One of the game’s best fielding plays came with runners on 1st and 3rd, a ground ball hit by Jason Hernandez to Ryan Fisher who fired to second for the out and Abercrombie’s attempt to cross home plate was thwarted by a great throw from Steve Nyisztor to Marcus Nidiffer who applied the tag.

Doubles from Hernandez and Valencia in the 6th gave the Miners a 4-1 margin. With the bases loaded, Boulders starting pitcher uncorked a wild pitch allowing Valencia to score Sussex County’s 5th run of the game. In the 7th inning, Rockland had runners on 1st and 3rd when Stephen Cardullo lifted a deep sac fly to right center field making the score 5-2. The Boulders further cut into the lead in the 9th on a solo blast from Stephen Henderson but Miners pitcher Joe Testa struck out the last two hitters to end the game.

“Bo didn’t have his great stuff right off the bat but he has to get over the first few inning woes here at home,” said Manager Jamie Keefe.

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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