Free Exhibition Games Open to Public this Weekend at Provident Bank Park

Boulders Opening Day to rock the house next week

BY MARC MATURO

Hurler Bobby Blevins is back with the Boulders
Hurler Bobby Blevins is back with the Boulders

The Rockland Boulders, who last season were recognized as the Can-Am League’s “Organization of the Year” after finishing third and leading all teams in attendance, are offering free admission to the unofficial start of the new season with exhibition games on May 10 and May 11.

The Boulders, beginning their third season, are requesting that tickets be obtained in advance, either online or at the box office at Provident Bank Park in Pomona.

Jamie Keefe, who led the CanAm League’s Pittsfield Colonials into the playoffs two years ago and was named “Manager of the Year,” will usher in his first season at the helm in Rockland with a league test on May 10 at 7 p.m. against the Newark Bears, who placed fourth a year ago. The Bears are managed by former big-league shortstop Garry Templeton.

On May 11 in a game that is set to start at 6:30 p.m., the Boulders will take on the best that the New York Police Department (NYPD) has to offer. Fireworks will follow the game as the Boulders apply the finishing touches before opening the regular season at home on May 16. The Bears, who went 35-65 last season as opposed to Rockland’s 48-52 mark, will again provide the opposition

Tickets are available for opening night, and with a large concourse at the park, an SRO crowd will be accommodated if necessary.

Manager Keefe has yet to name his starting pitcher on opening night, but the wheel could turn to right-hander Bobby Blevins of Briarcliff, who recently re-signed with the organization.

Before being dealt to the Atlantic League’s Long Island Ducks late last season, Blevins made 20 starts for the Boulders and completed four. His 3.64 ERA led the starting staff. For the Ducks, operated by former Mets shortstop Bud Harrelson, Blevins started two games in the championship series. The Ducks won both games to win the title.

The Boulders, who hope to tighten up a defense that committed 110 errors last season, continue to grow support in the area. In their inaugural season some 125,000 fans attended Boulders home games, and in 2012 Rockland led the league in attendance with 161,375.

Rockland again faces a challenging 100-game schedule, with half of the games at Provident Bank Park. The five-team league, which is hopeful of landing a sixth team, in Montreal, also features the Quebec Capitales, New Jersey Jackals, the Bears and the Trois-Rivieres Aigles.

Also scheduled are crossover games with teams from the American Association. This year, Saint Paul (Minn.), Wichita (Kansas) and Winnipeg (Manitoba, Canada) will visit Rockland, with the Boulders taking trips to Fargo-Moorhead (N.D.), Lincoln (Neb.), and Kansas City (Kansas).

Jamie Keefe, new skipper in town
Jamie Keefe, new skipper in town

Although team president Ken Lehner said the club must cut down on the number of errors, which put extra pressure on the pitching staff, it’s also a given that you can’t win without scoring.

Manager Keefe will need to replace a team second-best 65 RBI and 12 homers (tied for third-best) supplied by Suffern native Ryan Mollica last season. Mollica, who has switched careers and is reportedly training to become a firefighter, batted .313 but did make a team-high 25 errors.

For more information call 845-364-0009, or click here for tickets.

EXTRA INNINGS: The inaugural BoulderDash 5k run has been set for Sunday morning, June 23, at Provident Bank Park. The event will be held as part of a health fair sponsored by Active International and supporting sponsor Stop & Shop, and proceeds will benefit the Active International Cardiovascular Unit at Good Samaritan Hospital, and Boulders Benefits. The Boulders will follow the dash with a Can-Am League game against the Trois-Rivieres Aigles at 2 p.m. For more information, email info@rocklandboulders.com or call 845-364-0009. … Lori Rahaim, longtime athletic trainer at St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill, is beginning her third season with the Boulders. … An interesting player at first base will be UMass product Mike Gedman, who hits and throw left-handed. He is the son of former Boston Red Sox backstop Rich Gedman, who also hit from the left side. … The Boulders have 26 players in camp, but must get down to the CanAm League limit of 22 by opening night. … The Quebec Capitales, the defending league and playoff champion, visit Provident Bank Park for a four-game series May 24-27. Quebec went 66-34 last season, and then beat the New Jersey Jackals, four games to one, in the championship playoff.