Asked to describe his experience playing with Team Israel in the Summer Olympics baseball tournament in Yokohama, Japan, former Union College standout Jake Fishman couldn’t find that single, right word.
But it was certainly the thrill of a lifetime for the left-handed pitcher.
“It’s really tough to describe, that’s for sure,” Fishman said during a phone interview Wednesday from the Olympic Village in Tokyo. “It’s been an incredible experience. Just being able to stay in the Olympic village, see all these other elite athletes that are the best in the world; we share the same facilities with them, we eat with them, we get to meet all these really cool people and, then, we get to play some really good baseball.”
Team Israel went 1-4 in the tournament. It was eliminated in heartbreaking fashion Tuesday by the Domincan Republic. Former Toronto Blue Jay Jose Bautista’s RBI single with two out in the bottom of the ninth capped a two-run rally and gave the Domincan Republic a 7-6 win over Israel in an elimination game.
Israel’s lone win came Sunday, when it dominated Mexico in a 12-5 victory in the knockout stage.
“We had some crazy games,” Fishman said. “They were the most intense games I’ve ever been a part of. It’s a lot to take in. It’s very overwhelming, but it’s incredible.”
Fishman appeared in three games. He faced South Korea in the opening game of Group Stage play last Thursday. Fishman relieved starter Jon Moscot in the first inning. Moscot left the game after nine pitches because of an elbow injury.
Fishman pitched 3 2-3 innings. He struck out two and walked one. Ji Wan Oh hit a two-run homer off Fishman in the fourth inning. South Korea won 6-5 in 10 innings.
“It was obviously a rush of emotions watching Jon Moscot have that injury,” Fishman said. “You feel terrible for him. In that moment, you’re in your head. You’re like, ‘I have to focus. I have to go out and pitch.’ I just did my best to focus on one pitch at a time and go as far as I could.”
Fishman allowed a run on three hits in 1 1-3 innings in the Mexico win.
“It was awesome,” said Fishman, a native of Massachusetts who is a citizen of both the United States and Israel. “Being able to pitch in it is very special. It gave us a chance to get into the next game against [South] Korea again. Even though we lost that game [11-1 on Monday], we were still in a good position to advance in. It just didn’t work out our way in the final game. But it was very special to be able to pitch in that game against Mexico.”
Against the Dominican Republic, he allowed two runs on one hit in 1 1-3 innings. Fishman walked three and struck out one.
Because of restrictons related to the coronavirus pandemic, fans have not been allowed to attend the Olympics.
“There’s a lot of protocols here,” Fishman said. “It does add some stress to everything that’s going on. Not having fans was interesting, but the intensity of the games was still at an all-time high for me and everybody else. You still can’t take a pitch off. Everybody’s locked in at all moments and we were just relying on ourselves in bringing the energy to the games.”
Union College baseball coach Paul Mound was thrilled Fishman was able to participate in this year’s Olympics.
“Proud would be an understatement, that’s for sure,” Mound said. “Jake, from the day he stepped foot on [campus at] Union, has had an incredible work ethic. The results, obviously, showed.”
Fishman was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 30th round of the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft. Now, he is pitching in the Miami Marlins organization for the Triple-A Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. Fishman is 2-1 with a 3.97 earned run average in 34 innings.
Fishman was scheduled to fly back Thursday to Jacksonville to rejoin the Jumbo Shrimp.
“I’ve been having a lot of fun playing for them,” Fishman said. “I’m definitely very thankful [that] they’re giving me an opportunity playing in Triple-A, so I’m just trying to make the best of it.”