The Rockland Boulders returned home on Wednesday and defeated the Sussex County Miners 7-3 thanks in large part due to backup catcher Alex Herceg’s 3-for-4 day that included a 3-run home run. Jason Byers (0-2) was the Rockland starter and pitched 4.1 innings giving up two runs. Chris Carmain (1-1) recorded the win. Michael Heesch (0-2) took the loss after surrendering five runs in as many innings.
The Miners started the scoring with a two-run first inning. After Jay Austin tripled with two outs, Byers balked to bring him home. A pair of back-to-back walks from Juan Duran and Rubi Silva continued the inning and a base hit off the bat of Jay Baum knocked in another run to make the score to 2-0.
Rockland got on the board in the second inning. Mike Montville and Jon Smith led off with back-to-back singles to start the offense. Herceg then hit a homer, his first of the season, off the railing in left field to bring in three runs and give the Boulders a 3-2 lead.
After an error by J.J. Fernandez at first base in the bottom of the fourth, Joe Bennie reached and moved to third on Herceg’s single and scored on a groundout by Jared McDonald to tack on another Rockland run.
Sussex County threatened in the fifth inning after Duran and Silva walked and singled, respectively, and then completed a double steal. However, Chris Carmain came on in relief to get two outs and keep the score at 4-2.
The Boulders built the lead after Mike Fransoso hit a leadoff triple and came home on a groundout by Joe Maloney. In the sixth, back-to-back doubles from McDonald and Dylan Tice would extend the score to 6-2.
Rockland reliever Alex Farina replaced Carmain in the seventh. In the inning, Austin walked for the Miners, moved to second on an error by the pitcher, went to third on a groundout, and scored on a wild pitch to cut the deficit at 6-3. However, Montville got the Boulders the run back in the bottom of the inning via a solo shot over the left field wall, making this his second straight game with a home run.
The Boulders improved to 19-7 while the Miners are now 10-14 on the season. The second and final game of the series will be tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Palisades Credit Union Park