SOLID PITCHING, DEFENSE COME THROUGH
July 25, Pomona, NY – The Sussex County Miners (43-20) had to wait two days and through a lengthy rain delay yesterday, but finally managed to play ball and earn a doubleheader split with the Rockland Boulders (33-30), taking the opener 1-0 before dropping the nightcap 4-3 at Palisades Credit Union Park.
The Miners started game one hot as Connor Crane ripped a base hit in the first at-bat of the contest. Martin Figueroa reached on an error by JC Rodriguez to set things up with runners on first and third. With Danny Mateo at the plate, Figueroa swiped second base to tie the Miners’ own Can-Am League record of 163 stolen bases in a season. Crane displayed some heads up baserunning by scoring on a passed ball during Mikey Reynolds at bat, putting Sussex County ahead 1-0.
Both starting pitchers then traded zeros for the rest of the game, with David Rollins (pictured) getting some defensive help from Breland Almadova in right field. Twice Boulders runners tried to score on balls hit to the outfield, but both times Almadova cut down the Boulders attack with his arm. In the second inning, he sent a throw to Reynolds, who’s relay was on the money in eliminating Mike Montville at the plate. Then Almadova threw a strike to Luis Alen, who slapped the tag down on Connor Bierfeldt ending the third.
In the seventh, the Miners sent in their closer Alex Demchak to wrap things up. And he did just that, striking out two Boulders as part of a perfect ninth to earn his seventh save of the season.
Rockland got a few hits here and there but overall struggled at the plate against Rollins and Demchak. The Boulders twice left two runners on base to end an inning as they failed to score in the first game.
Rollins (8-1) pitched six scoreless innings to earn the victory and tie for the league lead in that category. He scattered seven hits and walked two while striking out six in the effort. Justin Brantley (4-1) was the hard luck loser, pitching all seven innings and surrendering just one unearned run on two hits, walking none and striking out seven.
Game two saw Andrew Vinson toe the rubber in hopes of extending the Miners’ franchise-high winning streak to nine. The Boulders got to him early, as JC Rodriguez walked and Conor Bierfeldt put one over the outfield wall to give Rockland a quick 2-0 lead after two batters. Vinson settled in afterwards, retiring the next three.
The Miners quickly got those two runs back in the second, as Jayce Ray and Connor Crane hit back-to-back sacrifice flies to pull even at two. Martin Figueroa homered in the top third to give the Miners the lead. But then, Bierfeldt hit his second home run of the long afternoon in the bottom half of the third and Conrad Gregor hit one of his own in the fifth to put the Boulders ahead.
On the mound, Brad Schaenzer, Nick Kennedy, and Kyle Hansen combined to hold Sussex County without a run for the final four innings, with Schaenzer (1-1) earning his first professional victory. Vinson (6-3) took the loss for the Miners, while Hansen notched his eleventh save.
The Miners have a quick turnaround, as they return home on Thursday to take on the second place Québec Capitales. First pitch is slated for 7:05 pm.
Article: Zachary Smolen and Will Fowler
Contributing: Bret Leuthner
Photo: Dennis Mark