Ryan Mollica set off some fireworks of his own as he hit a towering shot to the flagpole in right center in the bottom of the ninth to give the Rockland Boulders a walk off victory over the New Jersey Jackals by a score of 5-4 in Can-Am League baseball action on Saturday night.
Mollica capped off a 3-for-5 night with his first home run of the season, the most exciting home run of the season for the Boulders.
“He got me on the same pitch yesterday,” said Mollica. “Tonight he hung one and I just dropped the barrel on it. That’s my first walk off…so much adrenaline.”
Mollica was surrounded by hundreds of screaming fans after the game, begging for pictures and autographs. The Suffern native gave Boulders fans another reason to call him a “hometown hero.”
“They were getting ahead of him all night, but he was patient enough to get his pitch each time,” said manager Dave LaPoint. “Our new first baseman also made a difference out there tonight.”
Jermel Lomack led things off for Rockland with a double to the right field corner. Ryan Mollica followed with a hard shot off the pitcher, putting runners on the corners. Vic Buttler avoided a double play by beating the throw at first, allowing Lomack to cross the plate for the first run of the game.
The Jackals got on the board in the top of the fourth with a leadoff home run by Leonard Davis. Rockland starter Jonathan Velasquez found his composure soon after and struck out two to limit the damage.
New Jersey (12-10) was 90 feet from taking the lead in the fifth, but Velasquez pitched his way out of trouble once again to keep the game knotted up at one run apiece.
Lomack and Mollica both singled to start the bottom of the fifth. With the runners on first and second, Sean Smith smacked a hard line drive into the left field corner, plating Lomack from second to give Rockland a one-run lead. Vasami hit Buttler with a pitch, loading the bases with nobody out. Vasami was replaced by righty Mike Pontius after the hit-by-pitch.
Cristobal Santana recorded his first base hit as a Boulder against Pontius, a single that plated Mollica. Tommy Giles followed Santana by taking ball four with no place to go, putting another run on the board for Rockland. Pontius retired the next three batters to get the Jackals out of the jam, but the damage was done as the Boulders took the 4-1 lead.
The Jackals came out furious in the top of the sixth. Davis hit his second homer of the game, a towering fly ball that left the stadium. Myron Leslie made it back-to-back with a shot into the short porch in right, bringing the score to 4-3 in favor of the Boulders. New Jersey put runners on first and second before reliever Kyle Wilson struck out Chris White to escape the sixth frame.
Michael Gardner came on to pitch for Rockland in the seventh and quickly retired the first two batters of the inning before finding himself in some trouble. Davis continued his big game with a double to put the tying run in scoring position. Ray Stokes had a chance to end the inning with a routine ground ball, but he misplayed it and extended the inning. Mike Jones singled for New Jersey to bring Leslie around to score and even the score at four.
The Rockland bullpen held it together in the end for the Boulders, allowing them to win on Mollica’s home run in the bottom of the ninth. Rockland closer Adrian Martin earned his first win of the season after pitching a perfect ninth to keep it tied.
Mollica’s home run was the first of the season for him and the first ever walk off at Provident Bank Park.
The rubber match of this three-game swing between the Rockland Boulders (7-12) and New Jersey Jackals takes place this afternoon at Provident Bank Park. First pitch is scheduled for 5:05 p.m.
The Rockland Boulders will send John Muller (0-1) to the rubber to take on New Jerseys’ Shaun Ellis (1-0).