TAKE THREE OF FOUR FROM BOULDERS
August 23, Augusta, NJ – The Sussex County Miners (58-32) rode a strong pitching performance from Michael Wagner and a breakthrough sixth inning to defeat the Rockland Boulders (47-44) by a score of 4-2 on Thursday night at Skylands Stadium. With the win, the Miners cut their magic number to clinch the regular season championship down to 6 games.
Wagner (3-3) was matching zeroes with Rockland pitcher Josh McClain, who was making his professional debut. McClain had retired the first fourteen Miners he had faced, while Wagner worked out of a bases loaded situation in the fourth inning as the two pitchers cruised on through the first five innings of play. The McClain streak would be broken when Martin Figueroa lined a 3-2 pitch into center field to break up the no-hit bid.
Sussex County would finally break the deadlock in the bottom of the sixth inning. Jarred Mederos would hit a one out bloop single and advance on a balk. Breland Almadova and former Boulder Jared McDonald would draw walks, setting the stage for Mikey Reynolds. The Miners leading hitter would line a 2-2 pitch into right-center field, scoring Mederos and Almadova to give the Miners a 2-0 lead and chase McClain (0-1) in favor of Nick Kennedy. McDonald would then score on a fielder’s choice and Reynolds would score on a Daniel Mateo sacrifice fly to make it 4-0 Miners. The Mateo drive would also set a new Can-Am league record for most sacrifice flies by a team in one season, as Reynolds would be the 52nd Miner to cross the plate on a sacrifice fly, eclipsing the mark of 51 set by the 2009 New Jersey Jackals.
Wagner would find himself in a jam in the seventh inning but, after one run had scored and with the bases loaded, Michael would strike out Miners nemesis Marcus Nidiffer to leave three runners stranded and the Miners up by a score of 4-1. After a 1-2-3 eighth inning, Wagner would turn the game over to Martire Garcia. The southpaw would allow a run on one hit but strike out three Boulders to earn his first save as a Miner and sent the Miners 26 games above .500 on the season. The Miners also notched home win number 38 on the season, now just two wins shy of tying the mark of 40 home wins set by the 2011 Quebec Capitales.
The Miners and Capitales will begin a big three-game series Friday night at Skylands Stadium. The first pitch between the top two teams in the Can-Am League is set to take place at 7:05 pm
Photo: Sara Schaarschmidt/Sussex County Miners