Not even a little rain could dampen Derek Fisher’s professional baseball debut.
Fisher, the 37th overall pick by the Houston Astros in June’s draft, had two infield singles, reached base four times, stole a base and scored three runs Monday night to help the Tri-City ValleyCats beat the Connecticut Tigers, 10-2, in a rain-delayed, and eventually rain-shortened New York-Penn League game at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium.
Seeing live pitching for the first time since he and his Virginia Cavaliers lost in the championship game of the College World Series, Fisher displayed good speed as he beat out infield hits in his first two pro at-bats.
“Baseball is a game that’s meant to be played every day,” said Fisher, who got to the plate four times before the umpires called the game in the bottom of the fifth. “I went into the game feeling like I was calm and collected, and I was. My first at-bat, I was pretty nervous.
“I was seeing the ball well, and was able to get one base.”
Fisher was on hand for Sunday night’s 11-3 win over Lowell.
“Hitting is contagious, and we proved that,” said Fisher after the ValleyCats strafed three Tigers’ pitchers for 12 hits in less than five innings to go to a Stedler Division-best 16-8. “To be able to go in there where everyone hits from 1 through 9 and be able to help is great. We’ve been able to put a lot of good swings on balls.”
“He can flat-out run,” manager Ed Romero said. “He goes like 3.79 [seconds] to first. When he stole the base, his acceleration was good. He’s going to be a very nice addition.”
Fisher’s contribution from the No. 3 hole helped his new teammates jump out to an 8-2 lead after four innings. A.J. Reed had a two-run single in a three-run first inning, Ryan Bottger homered in the second and Nick Tanielu cracked a two-run double in the ’Cats’ three-run fourth.
After Reed hit an RBI double and Ariel Ovando hit a sac fly to make it 10-2 in the fifth, the rains came again, and the umpiring crew called it a night.
Fisher hit .260 with three homers in 29 games during a junior season that was interrupted by injury. He missed 25 games after suffering a broken hamate bone in his right wrist in a game against Duke.
Fisher was in the middle of a three-run rally in his first professional inning. Hitting third in the lineup, he followed an infield single by leadoff hitter Bobby Boyd and a walk to Bottger by legging out an infield single.
After Davis struck out, Reed singled in Boyd and Bottger. Jamie Ritchie produced a third run with a bases-loaded walk.
Fisher had another infield single and stole second base as the ‘Cats scored once in the second inning, he walked and scored in a three-run fourth, and was hit by a pitch and came around to score as Tri-Valley scored twice before the rain came again in the home fifth.
Connecticut got two of those runs back in the second on Steven Fuentes’ two-run double, then Bottger hit his third home run of the season, down the right field line, to make it 4-2 ValleyCats after two innings.
Shortstop Mott Hyde pushed the ValleyCats’ lead back to three runs when his safety squeeze scored Ovando in the third.
The big lead appeared to help starting pitcher Troy Scribner settle in. After the right-hander gave back two of the three first-inning runs his teammates provided, he faced one batter over the minimum from the third through fifth innings.
Scribner settled in after Fuentes’ double. He struck out three of the next four hitters to end the second; faced only three batters in the third when Hyde caught Jake Pancake trying to take an extra base after dumping a single into short center; and struck out all three hitters he saw in the fourth.
“The fastball was up, and when you get behind and they can sit on one pitch and it’s a fastball, they’ll crush them,” said Scribner, who struck out nine in going to 3-1. “I gave up two runs, and it was OK. We’re going to score 10. And we did.”
With a quick turnaround for an 11 o’clock game this morning, his recovery saved Romero at least one arm.
“It was great to get in what we got in. You don’t lose any pitchers,” Romero said.
The ValleyCats added three runs in the fourth, as Tanielu doubled in a pair and Ovando hit an RBI single.
Fisher led off that inning with a walk. Davis followed with a single, and after Reed grounded out, Tanielu hit his two-run double.
Ovando followed with his RBI single.
Romero was glad to get the game in.
“We didn’t want to play a double-header [today] and then travel,” he said. “And Scribner was hot, so we didn’t want to waste a pitcher.”
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