MINERS COME FROM BEHIND TO BEAT ROCKLAND, 9-8
Augusta, NJ – 3B Nick Giarraputo and DH Joe Dunigan had 2 hits each, 1B Chris Duffy hit a grand slam, and the Sussex County bullpen allowed just 1 run on 4 hits over 5 1/3 innings as the Miners (2-2) came from behind to defeat the Rockland Boulders (2-2) 9-8 in a very entertaining game at Skylands Stadium on Sunday night.
It didn’t take long for the Miners to get going offensively. A sharp leadoff single and stolen base by RF Carl Thomore (pictured) were followed by 1 out walks issued by Rockland starting pitcher David Fischer to Dunigan and Giarraputo. That set the stage for Duffy, who drove a 1-0 pitch deep over the wall in right-centerfield, giving the Miners an instant 4-0 advantage.
The Boulders, however, would chip away at the Sussex County lead over the next three innings, but not without a Miners highlight. In the second, C Alex DeBellis would single to right field but DH Marcus Nidiffer would get thrown out at 3B by a cannon of a throw from Thomore in RF. DeBellis would then get caught in a rundown on a pickoff attempt but managed to avoid the tag attempt and steal second base. He would then score on RF Brian Ragira’s single to cut the lead to 4-2. Rockland would score twice in the 3rd on a 2-run double by 1B Jared Schlehuber, and then tie the game in the 4th on an RBI single by CF Jared McDonald. The Boulders would take their first lead at 7-4 on SS Junior Arrojo’s 3rd HR of the season.
But in the bottom of the 4th, the Miners would mount their own comeback. With 2 on and 2 out, Thomore would get his 2nd hit of the day, a 2-run single that scored CF Jay Austin and SS Michael Antonio. Then, in the 5th, Giarraputo would lead off with a single, steal 2nd base with 2 outs, and then get driven in on an Austin single up the middle to tie the score at 7.
The Miners would retake the lead in the 6th with a 2-out rally when C Elvin Soto and Dunigan hit back-to-back singles off of Rockland reliever Pat Butler, and Giarraputo would rip a double in the gap in left-center, scoring Soto and Dunigan and putting the Miners up 9-7.
While the Miners bats were coming alive in the middle innings, the Sussex County bullpen put together some solid work in relief of starting pitcher Jamie Walczak. Michael Tamburino, who was initially scheduled to start until last night’s suspended game, combined with Stone Speer, Josh Wood, and Drew Cisco to keep Rockland to no runs, 2 hits, and 2 walks over 3 1/3 innings. And when Nick Gonzales found some trouble in the 8th, Miners closer Andres Santiago came on to get the last out in that frame and then finish the job off in the 9th inning to earn his second save of the season.
A good deal of credit also goes to Manager Bobby Jones and the Miners coaching staff for navigating the game using 17 of their 22 players during the contest. 7 pitchers saw action, and C Gaby Juarbe was called into action after Antonio was ejected for arguing with home plate umpire Kris Engstrand. Jones slid 2B Ryan Lashley over to SS, and Soto from behind the plate to 2B to free up Juarbe to finish the game catching for the Miners staff.
With the win, the Miners improve to 2-2 on the season, while the Boulders drop to an identical 2-2 mark. Next up for the Miners is a 3-game series up in Canada against the Trois-Rivières Aigles, the defending Can-Am League champions. Listen to all the games live on the Miners Radio Network.
The Miners return home for a 6-game/5-day homestand over Memorial Day weekend against Ottawa and Trois-Rivières. Tickets for those and all Miners home games can be purchased by visiting the Miners Box Office, calling 973-940-0222, or logging on to SussexCountyMiners.com.
Photo by Dennis Mark.