A franchise best 40-22 start has the Rockland Boulders tied for first place in the Can-Am League standings. On Tuesday night, six Rockland Boulders will be representing the organization in the 2017 All-Star Game at RCGT Park in Ottawa, Ontario – Joe Maloney, Dylan Tice, Cody Regis, Jon Smith, Markus Solbach and Justin Topa.
Five of the six players will play in the game with Smith being the only exception due to a serious injury sustained back on June 11 against the Quebec Capitales at Palisades Credit Union Park.
Boulders Manager, Jamie Keefe, spoke after Sunday’s game against Trois-Rivieres on the All-Stars.
“Pretty excited for all five guys going up there, they have battled through the wars in the first half,” he said. “They have done very well and are deserving. Guys who have been great representatives of the Rockland Boulders and are professionals on and off the field.”
“We wish Jon (Smith) could be there with them but he will be there up with us in Ottawa and Quebec and excited to have him back and around,” continued Keefe. “Joe is excited to go up there and represent in the Home Run Derby.”
Keefe spoke about the success the five all-stars have experienced this season.
“Guys that have come in and flat out performed,” he said. “The one thing we try to do as an organization, myself and rest of the staff is to put guys in a situation to succeed and if you can do it and well and perform and take advantage of the opportunities we have put them in.”
Making his return to the Boulders after spending last season in Double-A with the Minnesota Twins, Maloney has not skipped a beat. He leads the team in home runs with a career high 20 to go along with 62 RBI. Maloney also leads the team in doubles with 18, is tied for second with 32 walks and sits third in stolen bases with 14.
“Just seeing the right pitches and putting a pretty good swing on it and don’t think I have changed anything over the last two years and I’m excited for the All-Star Game,” explained Maloney. “All these guys are pretty good ball players and a fun group to be with.”
Two newcomers to this year’s team are second baseman Dylan Tice and third baseman Cody Regis. Tice leads the team with a .349 average to go with 80 hits, 14 doubles, and 23 stolen bases (a Can-Am League high). He is also tied for second with 32 walks, and 45 runs scored. Meanwhile, Regis is batting .307 with 13 home runs, 51 RBI, 75 hits, 13 doubles, 43 runs and 22 walks.
“It’s a blast and kind of a little vacation for us and get to go up with all of your buddies,” Tice said. “Our lineup is pretty powerful and when in front of you and behind you do their jobs, it makes it very easy to do yours so I just try to get on base as much as possible to let our big bats like Maloney, Regis and Nidiffer drive me in and they’ve been able to do that consistently.”
“It’s an honor and a lot of fun and going to be a blast and good group of guys going and show out for the Boulders very well,” added Regis.
Before sustaining the injury, Smith was enjoying a breakout year hitting .327 with 12 home runs, 34 RBI, 49 hits, 37 runs scored and 31 walks.
“Second go around and only difference was the managers with Dave LaPoint in 2012 and now Jamie (Keefe),” said Smith. “First time I was there I broke my hand and not there the whole time. It’s been a really good year and first All-Star team I ever made and hitting this high. Not worried about average but runs scored, RBI, extra base hits, walks and strikeouts are numbers I focused on in the off-season and tried to get ready for and did a really good job at it. A really good accomplishment and one of the goals to make the All-Star team and never done it in my career playing and worked to do and something I got done and proud of.”
Another new face to the team is Justin Topa. Topa pitched one inning of relief on Sunday against Trois-Rivieres at Palisades Credit Union Park Topa to earn his league-leading ninth win of the season. He is second on the team with 47 strikeouts.
“It’s a cool accomplishment and try to go out there and keep the team in the game and go as long as I can and keep the team within a few runs,” Topa said.
Solbach is also in his second stint with the Boulders. Last season signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks and assigned to Class A, Solbach had registered a 6-2 record with a 2.43 E.R.A. and 52 strikeouts. This season Solbach has matched his 2016 wins total and leads the team in strikeouts with 56.
“We’re all excited to go as a group, drive up there and have a lot of fun and see some good ball players put on a show and see the American-Association players we haven’t faced before,” said Solbach. “Great to be there and an honor and I wanted to come back here and a great place and everybody gets treated well and taken care of.”
Sunil Sunder Raj
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