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    Sharon’s Jake Fishman eyes healthy return to mound for Brockton Rox

    JAKE FISHMAN
    Brockton Rox
    JAKE FISHMAN

    Fishman back on Rox mound after illness

    The only issue, it appears, that has prevented Jake Fishman from delivering dominating performances on the mound was a recent illness.

    Otherwise, the 6-foot-2 southpaw from Sharon has been dazzling, whether he is throwing for Union College or the Brockton Rox in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League.

    Rox manager Bryan Stark was at one point minus Fishman and Weymouth’s Sam McKay , who were both sidelined with mononucleosis. But Fishman made his return last week and McKay was not far behind.

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    “It’s going to be nice to start to get some of these guys back,” said Stark. “Fishman got off to a great start for us and we’ve missed having him in the rotation. He’s a tough lefty with an unorthodox windup who is real tough on lefties.”

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    A rising sophomore at Union, Fishman was unscored upon in his first three appearances with the Rox, allowing just seven hits over 12 innings. After missing two weeks recovering from the illness, the Sharon High graduate felt the effects of his layoff in his first game back on Tuesday, allowing seven runs in two innings of a 5-3 loss to the North Shore Navigators.

    The Rox are 22-14 under Stark, a former assistant at the Naval Academy who just joined Bill Decker’s staff at Harvard.

    Fishman, with 18 strikeouts in 14 innings, has compiled a 3.07 earned run average.

    “It was definitely a bummer to get sick, but I feel lucky that it was only two weeks,” said Fishman. “I feel pretty lucky in that regard and that I’m back to feeling 100 percent.”

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    The loss to North Shore looks more like an aberration than a trend.

    Fishman had been on a roll since the start of his freshman season at Union, where he compiled a 7-0 record with a team-best 2.29 earned run average. Fishman was the staff ace, logging 63 innings with team-high 49 strikeouts.

    In his second collegiate start, he fired a no-hitter in a 2-0 victory over Bard College; he was the Rookie of the Year in the Liberty League.

    “We knew we had something special as soon as we saw him pitch,” said Union coach Paul Mound. “In his first college start [seven innings of three-hit ball in a 5-4 win over Keene State] he shut them down like they’d never seen a baseball before.”

    Mound, Stark, and Fishman concur that his twisting windup, in which his back momentarily faces the batter, keeps many batters off balance. While the windup isn’t quite as dramatic as former Red Sox great Luis Tiant, it does draw comparisons.

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    “It started in my sophomore year of high school when I found a new pitching coach who was all about having an arm slot that is natural for you,” said Fishman, who relies mostly on an active fastball and also throws a curve and a knuckle ball.

    “That created kind of a sidearm delivery. I think it’s something that batters are not used to. It makes the ball tough to see and harder to pick up coming out of my hand.”

    Mound said that Fishman’s delivery makes his fastball deceptive.

    “He does get a fair amount of torque on his pitches, although not to the level that Tiant got,” said Mound. “He gets more hip rotation than most and hides the ball very well. The batter usually doesn’t pick it up right away, which makes his mid-80s fastball that much more effective.”

    An excellent outfielder at Sharon High, Fishman transitioned to first base at Union when he wasn’t on the hill. This season, he hit .400, with five doubles, 24 RBIs, ands 24 runs scored. He stole 12 bases and made just three errors, earning first-team honors at first base in the Liberty League.

    “Not only did Jake become our number one starter, but he transitioned nicely to first base,” said Mound. “I haven’t seen a freshman have the kind of year he had in quite some time.”

    McKay has appeared in three games for the Rox and owns a 1-1 record with a 2.40 ERA after going 6-2 with a 1.59 ERA for Hartford during his sophomore season.

    Local players headed to all-star game

    Armand Rugel, a junior righthander at Stonehill College, has been selected to play in Sunday’s New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) All-Star game at MacKenzie Field in Holyoke. Working out of the bullpen, the Middletown, R.I. native owns a 3-0 record and a 1.96 ERA for the Newport Gulls; he did not allow a run in his first eight appearances, covering 13 innings.

    He will be joined by a familiar face: Stonehill pitching coach Greg Zackrison . Coach of the Southern Division-leading Plymouth Pilgrims (21-6) , Zackrison will manage the South squad.

    His catcher, Plymouth’s Matt Walsh (Franklin Pierce), hitting .321 with eight doubles, was also named to the team.

    Other Pilgrims selected: Thomas Jankins, a starting pitcher from Quinnipiac; pitcher Nick Berger (Northeastern); closer Vincenzo Aiello (Rider); second baseman Thomas Roulis (Dartmouth); outfielders Michael Martin (Harvard) and James Bunn (VCU); and catcher Logan Koch (University of South Carolina).

    Here and there

    Cohasset’s Anders Goetz, a rising senior at Union, is spending his summer playing for the Carolina Freedom in the All-American Collegiate Baseball League. Platooning at second base, he is sizzling with a .343 average with seven RBIs. Goetz, who led Cohasset High to a pair of state championships, batted .293 with eight doubles and 18 RBI for Union this spring. . . .

    With fall sports season just around the corner, Kennedy Brothers Physical Therapy in Cohasset is offering an ACL injury prevention and fitness training program for girls between the age of 10 and 18.

    “Girls are four times more likely than boys to tear an ACL in sports,” says Kirsten Ripple, the head therapist at Kennedy Brothers’ location in Cohasset. The six-week program starts on July 21. For more information, call 781-383-8001.

    John R. Johnson can be reached at jjohnson49@comcast.net.