The Boulders entered Saturday’s contest with the Miners looking to improve to 35-14 and increase their Can-Am League lead. Instead, Sussex County came out victorious in a fast game.
The first two innings were a textbook pitcher’s duel. Ari Kaufman allowed two hits and no runs for Rockland and Kody Kerski struck out four and gave up no runs for Sussex County. The Miners would break the ice and get on the board in the third.
Adron Chambers led off with a triple and Nick Giarraputo brought him home on a sacrifice fly. The fourth inning looked promising for the Boulders after a Joe Maloney lead off double and Mike Montville single, but Kersi put away Mike Fransoso for the third out..
That missed opportunity didn’t linger too long as Rockland would tie it in the fifth. Daniel Arribas reached on an error and Aaron Wilson singled after him. Dylan Tice drove in Arribas on a grounder to second, however Kersi would retire Cody Regis and strand Wilson on third.
Sussex County grabbed the lead right back. Jarred Mederos singled and stole second before Giarraputo roped a double off the right field wall. Juan Duran drove in Giarraputo on a single to make it 3-1.
Dominate pitching would ensue from both sides as Kersi and Kaufman each went one more inning. Kaufman finished with six innings, seven hits, three earned runs, four strikeouts and one walk while Kersi concluded with six innings, three hits, one run, eight strikeouts and one walk.
The seventh inning had Miners meltdown written all over it before the Boulders caught a horrible break.
Fransoso led off with a walk against Alex Demchak and Arribas singled to put the lead run at the plate. Wilson would then square to bunt and pop it up to catcher Nate Irving who threw out Fransoso at second for the double play.
One-two-three eighth innings from Tommy Lawrence and ElHajj Muhammad quickly took the game to the ninth. Jon Smith led off with a single to give Rockland hope, although Sussex County closer Mark McCoy got the next three outs to record the save.
The Boulders will look for a bounce back win Sunday night at Skylands Stadium to finalize the series. First pitch is set for 4:05 p.m