2018 Can Am League Semi-Finals
(3) Rockland Boulders (54-48) vs. (2) Quebec Capitales (58-44)
Wednesday's series opener features a pair of aces as Quebec's Jay Johnson squares off with David Palladino. Johnson has victories in four of his last five decisions, though he was not a pitcher of record in his final outing at Ottawa on August 29, allowing three earned runs on five hits over six innings of work. Since moving from the bullpen to the starting rotation in late June, he has faced the Boulders three times, with a 2-0 record and impressive 0.90 ERA, allowing two earned runs in 20.0 innings of work.
Palladino's last outing was a 2-inning tune-up at Ottawa on August 31, but he was dominant in capturing wins in his two previous starts. The big right-hander enters the post-season with a streak of 15.0 consecutive scoreless innings, allowing nine hits and striking out 13 over that span. In his lone start against Quebec this season, he tossed 7.0 innings of 3-hit shutout ball in the Boulders' 2-0 victory at Stade Canac on August 2.
Hail to the All-Stars - Each team placed one player on the Can Am League's All-Star team, released last Thursday. For the Boulders, Kevin Krause has been the model of consistency in the lineup, ranking among league leaders in batting average, hits, and doubles. Quebec shortstop Yordan Mandulay garnered his second straight such honor, combining a league-leading .337 average with his stellar defensive play.
A Rivalry Resumes - This will be the third straight season in which Quebec and Rockland have squared off in a post-season showdown, with each team winning one series. In 2016, the home team won all five semi-final contests as the Capitales grabbed the first two in Canada only to see the Boulders sweep the next three on home turf to advance to the finals. Last season, a red-hot Quebec squad won the first two at Palisades Credit Union Park before returning home to sweep to their first league championship since the 2013 season - their fifth straight title, with that string broken by the Boulders' 2014 title run.
Blasting the Home Run Record - Led by the record-setting 35 homer season of Joe Maloney, the 2017 Boulders established a new Can Am team record with 115 round-trippers. Despite not having such a dominant presence in this year's line-up, Rockland obliterated that mark with an incredible 146 dingers in 2018. The red, white, and blue posted an impressive eight players in double figures this season, with Cody Regis (22), Marcus Nidiffer (21) and Mike Montville (21) leading the souvenir barrage.
A Familiar Face - If the name seems familiar, that's because it should be to long-time Boulders fans. In a late season acquisition, veteran hurler Bobby Blevins was picked up by the Capitales. A fan favorite and native of nearby Briarcliff, NY, Blevins was an original Boulder and took the hill in several key moments in franchise history. On May 26, 2011, he became the first player ever to throw a pitch in a Boulders uniform, working five innings and getting a no-decision in an 11-5 win over the Newark Bears. Nearly three weeks later, a crowd of 6,317 watched Blevins work eight stellar innings of one-run, three-hit ball as the Boulders won their Home Opener in a 3-1 nailbiter against the Brockton Rox on June 16. He amassed 23 wins in his three seasons in Rockland.