Rockland Boulders’ pitcher, David Fischer, could not hold back his emotion Sunday night. Fischer was driving back to Pomona, New York and cause sight of Palisades Credit Union Park. “I rolled up and used some expletives. [I] didn’t get it done last year. Favorite team I ever played for, love Jamie [Keefe] and all the guys. To come back after a rough season in affiliated ball and not doing well. To come back here and be embraced with open arms.”
The Boulders attempted to finish off the New Jersey Jackals and advance to their second consecutive Can-Am League Championship Series. Fischer initially gave up a run in the second on a ground out by Yariel Vargas. Facing a jam in the third inning with runners on first and second with one out, Fischer struck out Brian Burgamy. He also retired Joe Dunigan on a ground ball that turned the tide.
Unable to find their offensive rhythm in Game 3, managing just two hits, the Boulders were unable to solve Jackals starter Isaac Pavlil for the first three innings. That would change in the fourth due to a controversial call. A ground ball hit by Marcus Nidiffer went down the third base line and appeared fair but ended up being called a foul ball.
Manager Jamie Keefe vociferously argued the call to no avail. Feeding off that emotion with two outs, the sizzling Cody Regis (3 for 4, 2 runs scored, 7 for 14 in the series, 6 runs scored) stepped up. Regis launched a towering fly ball that just cleared the seats in the Short Porch area in right field. This is his second homer of the series.
Unable to play in last year’s playoffs due to a season ending spleen injury, Jared McDonald provided a valuable lift. McDonald lashed a drive into left center field as Mike Montville sprinted around the bases from first after drawing a walk. Another key cog in the series against the Jackals, Daniel Arribas (1 for 4, 2 runs scored, 1 RBI, 4 for 14 in the series, 5 RBI’s, 2 runs scored) clubbed a single into left field plating McDonald. Making his first appearance in the series, Aaron Wilson capped off the scoring in the inning smoking a triple down the right field line bringing in Arribas.
“I thought I hit it pretty good with wind blowing in. [I] saw the right fielder camping under it at the wall but knew I got it,” said Cody Regis. “As good as the first half was for me, the second was a little frustrating with the injury. I just kept telling myself there will be a time when the team needs me and tried to stay consistent with my approach and plan. Things have been clicking lately at the right time. That was probably our highlight of our season. To rally off four runs and all with two outs. Hit after hit and not cheap and hitting the ball hard.”
“The biggest thing was applying pressure. We had an approach on the bases with Pavlik on the mound,” Jared McDonald said. “Just trying to see something over the plate and make them play defense. Two years removed I have learned a lot by watching last year and just trying to be a leader by example.”
Fischer continued to spin a masterpiece on the mound striking out eight hitters by the fourth inning while not surrendering a hit. With Pavlik departing after four innings, Rockland faced a new pitcher in Jose Jose. Capitalizing on an error by first baseman Art Charles, a wild pitch unleashed by Jose boosted the advantage to 5-1. Fischer rolled into the seventh with 11 K’s. He was one out away from preserving the no-hitter when Johnny Bladel broke it up ripping a single into left field. That would be the last hitter Fischer (6 2/3, 1 run, 1 hit, 11 K’s 5 walks) would face in the game, leaving to a standing ovation from the fans at Palisades Credit Union Park.
“I was talking to Markus Solbach the whole time. It was the longest I have gone no-hitting. I enjoyed it while it was happening,” said Fischer “Good to get the win and advance to the championship. For me it’s getting a little confidence and if we score runs, I’m going to be able to hold the lead every time. The home run from Cody [Regis] was huge just to tie it. It give us more confidence and made me more comfortable. As much as you don’t want to feel pressure in a big game, you do feel it and its always there. Once you get it out of you and start pitching.”
Stepping on the gas pedal, the Boulders padded the margin tallying three additional runs in the eight including two runs coming across on an error by Dunigan on a fly ball hit by Arribas. Aaron Wilson (2 for 4, 3 RBI’s) burst through again belting a two-run single into shallow center field.
Having yielded back-to-back home runs the night before in Game 3, Jon Velasquez returned to close it out in the ninth. This time around he slammed the door shut, striking out the last two hitters for the victory. This set off a jubilant celebration by the Rockland first base dugout.
“Obviously a really good one. No matter how you shake it Fischer was unreal and just dominated the game,” said Keefe. “We just had to find a way to score runs. Cody [Regis] is that guy. [He] locked in and loves energy. Hats off to Aaron [Wilson] with three RBI’s. [He] brings different energy to the ball park. Jared McDonald was the x-factor going into the playoffs. He had a rough year but figured it out going into the playoffs at the plate.”
Headed back to the Can-Am League Championship Series for a second straight year, the Boulders will attempt to win their second title. Also to overcome last year’s bitterly disappointing defeat in Game 5 to the Ottawa Champions. They had been up 2-0 in the series. Games 1 and 2 will be held at Palisades Credit Union Park with Game 1 starting on Tuesday night. The series then switches back up to Stade Canac in Quebec City, Canada.
“It’s big for this organization to be there,” Keefe said. They [Quebec] had our number all year and we had Ottawa’s last year. Our goal was to get to the championship series. [We] got here and are ready to go. The guys don’t give a crap what happened last year and feel for the guys that went through it last year. They know how better we are.”