(LITTLE FALLS, NJ) – Despite a complete game from Richard Salazar in the opener, and eight strikeouts from David Fischer in the nightcap, the Rockland Boulders (38-27) were swept in a doubleheader at Yogi Berra Stadium on Friday night. The New Jersey Jackals (41-25) were victorious, 5-3 in Game One before posting a 6-5 comeback in the second contest. With the losses, the Boulders now sit two and half games behind New Jersey for first place in the league.
Game One did not start out well for the Boulders as Johnny Bladel launched a two-run home run in the bottom of the first off Richard Salazar for the early lead. New Jersey then added a pair of runs in the bottom of the second with a sacrifice fly from Rylan Sandoval and a bases loaded walk from Cory Vaughn for the 4-0 advantage.
Rockland tried to get back into in in the top of the third, scoring three different times. After a throwing error from Sandoval allowed a run to score, a fielder’s choice off the bat of Mike Fransoso brought another run home. Devin Harris then singled off starter Fernando Cruz, closing the gap to 4-3, but that would be as close as the Boulders would get.
The Jackals tacked on an insurance run in the third before holding on for a 5-3 win. Reliever Jose Jose (2-1) would toss three perfect innings in relief, striking out five, to get the win while Salazar (5-5) took the loss by giving up five runs on five hits and five walks.
It was a starkly different beginning to the nightcap as Rockland jumped out to a 2-0 lead on solo shots from Junior Arrojo in the first and Jared Schlehuber in the second. However, David Fischer couldn’t hold the lead, giving up a two-run single to Michael O’Neill in the bottom of the second to tie the ballgame.
Rockland quickly regained the lead in the third, scoring three different times. With two on and one out, Marcus Nidiffer launched a triple off Isaac Pavlik for a 4-2 Boulders lead. Harris then followed with a sacrifice fly to give his team a three run advantage.
Unfortunately for Rockland, Fischer couldn’t hold the lead allowing a run in the bottom of the third before Richard Stock hammered a three-run shot to give the Jackals a 6-5 lead. That blast would change the entire complexity of the game as the Boulders could not rally despite having the tying run in scoring position multiple times.
Fischer (4-3) took his first loss since June 22, also at Yogi Berra Stadium, giving up six runs on five hits and walking five to go along with eight strikeouts. The win went to Pavlik (4-1) who allowed five runs on seven hits in his five innings of work. Stock would get his second save of the day, third of the year, with a scoreless seventh inning.
The four-game series continues on Saturday, July 30th at Yogi Berra Stadium with a 6:00pm first pitch. They will then conclude the weekend with a 5:00pm start on Sunday, July 31st before both teams break for the American Association Home Run Derby and All-Star Game, August 1st and 2nd at CHS Field in St. Paul, Minnesota.