(POMONA, NY) – Entering the 2015 season, the Rockland Boulders had one goal in mind: repeating as Can-Am League Champions. While the Boulders may have fallen short in their attempt at a ‘Bold Defense’, the fifth season of professional baseball in Rockland County was a resounding success with a total of 25 franchise records being tied or broken, and earning a second straight pennant.
For the fourth straight season, Rockland led the Can-Am in both overall attendance and per-game attendance (3,053). The 161,796 fans who passed through the Palisades Credit Union Park, formerly known as Provident Bank Park, gates set a new franchise best for one season. That support led to a record amount of wins (63), home wins (35), and propelled the Boulders to a 63-34 record, finishing 19 games above .500, another new record for the franchise. The team also set league records in doubles (211), runs scored (622), and runs batted in (572).
Combining old favorite theme nights such as “Irish Heritage Night”, “Pink in the Park”, and “Western Weekend” with new promotional evenings like “Star Wars Night” and “Royalty Night” led to more enjoyment for the Boulders fan base. It all came to a head on August 1 when a record 6,624 patrons packed the park for “Disco Night” and the return of “Disco Seth Cantor”. Boulders fans also helped set a new world record when 126 area students simultaneously threw out the first pitch on June 24. A first-ever trip to Cooperstown, which included a trip to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, will be duplicated in 2016 as Rockland hosts the second “Cooperstown Can-Am Classic”.
As patrons continued to flood the stands, Rockland’s onslaught on the record books never faltered. The Boulders opened up the season at home on May 21 with a ring ceremony, celebrating their 2014 Championship, before defeating Trois-Rivieres, 5-1. That kicked off an opening stretch that saw the team go 7-3 in their first 10 games. Second year player Joe Maloney was the catalyst for the high-octane offense, winning consecutive Player of the Week awards to open the season.
The hot play continued throughout the summer as Rockland earned 13 league honors throughout the year. Both Maloney and outfielder Stephen Cardullo were earned Player of the Week honors three times while Maloney was the Player of the Month in June and Cardullo took home the honor in August. Catcher Marcus Nidiffer, Luis Sanz, and Marcus Jensen also received Player of the Week honors while Jensen was named Pitcher of the Month in August after Richard Salazar earned the same accolade for June.
The Boulders sported a winning record in every month of the season, going a franchise best 21-7 in the month of August. More impressively was the 8-1 road trip through the American Association, the best Midwest trip ever, and the 11-game winning streak that came along with it.
Despite running away with the league’s top offense, the Boulders found a flare for the dramatic on multiple occasions. The eight walk-off hits tied the 2014 record and saw Maloney break a tie for most walk-off hits in franchise history with the fourth of his career. His record-breaking walk-off on August 23 was a two-run blast that clinched the Boulders’ second straight trip to the postseason.
Rockland capped off their dominant 2015 with a second consecutive regular season title, defeating the Ottawa Champions 19-3 on Wednesday, September 2 at home. The very next night, third-year manager Jamie Keefe notched his 600th career win as a manager.
Although they earned the top seed in the playoffs, the Boulders were upended by Trois-Rivieres in the first round, losing a fifth and final Game 5 on Sunday, September 13 at home. While the season ended abruptly, owning the top spot in the league had its perks as Rockland racked up seven postseason accolades. Shortstop Junior Arrojo, who broke a league record with 36 hit-by-pitches, was named a Can-Am League All-Star, joining first baseman Charlie Law, Nidiffer, Cardullo, and Maloney on the squad.
Maloney was also named the Can-Am League Player of the Year, setting a league record for runs scored (91), and finishing in the top-5 in batting average, home runs, and RBI. All of that success also helped Keefe win his second straight Manager of the Year honor. It was the third time in his career that Keefe got the award, the most in League history.
The Boulders success continued off the field and in the community as new partnerships were formed while older ones were strengthened. Rockland continued its charitable efforts with the Rockland Boulders/Active International Charity Challenge, spotlighting 13 different area charities at different games throughout the season. Since its inception, the Rockland Boulders have now contributed more than $350,000 to local charities.
Rockland’s relationship with local little leagues grew as the Boulders sponsored the 2015 Haverstraw Tournament of Champions, recognizing both the baseball and softball champions at a Boulders home game. The team also enjoyed continued success thanks to corporate partners like Sterling National Bank, David-Nelson Metals, HealthSav, the Ramsey Auto Group, Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center, Clarkstown Coin & Jewelry, and the Duke of Oil and Tune, all of whom have been a part of the organization since its inception in 2011. That success helped bring in new partnerships with Konica-Minolta, Tiara Jewelers, and the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center, as well as in-game promotions courtesy of Rita’s, Smashburger of Nanuet and Moe’s Southwest Grill, among others.
Meanwhile, the Boulders Broadcast Network also increased its reach with 11 games being shown live on Verizon FiOS News 1 in the Lower Hudson Valley and Northern New Jersey. Another 17 games were broadcast via Optimum Channel 78 in Rockland County, meaning more than 50% of Rockland’s home games in 2015 were delivered straight to the fans in their living rooms this season.
Although the 2015 season may not have ended has originally hoped, the Rockland Boulders are committed to regaining that championship form in the 2016 season.