It’s over when Trap says ‘go Fish’
DARRELL Fisherbaugh's entry song is "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder. It should be the sound of a door slamming. His name should be said the way Seinfeld says Newman's -- with a closed fist for emphasis, through clenched teeth.
He did it again, yesterday. Gonfunit, the guy did it again.
Always. Automatic. Like clockwork. Like a door slamming. Like the sun setting.
The guy did it again.
"It's his role," Hawaii catcher Esteban Lopez said, after yesterday's UH baseball doubleheader with Western Illinois, in which the 'Bows took two. "It's his job to come in and shut it down. And we have all the confidence in the world he'll do his job."
Who wouldn't? Heading into yesterday's games the guy had seven appearances, a 2-0 win-loss record, three saves and 17 strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings pitched. Yeah, I guess that will work.
"It's very similar to what he did for us last year. Even his freshman year," Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso said. "He's put up tremendous numbers since he's been here. I think last year his numbers were almost ridiculous."
You've heard of Almost Famous? He's Almost Ridiculous. He's the closer, and if he showed up even 7-Eleven would have to shut down.
"I'm just trying to run with it right now," Fisherbaugh said.
He entered in the eighth inning of yesterday's first game, the Rainbows clinging to a 2-1 lead. It was two on and one out, Western Illinois Leathernecks on second and third. Enter the closer with two outs to go, the tying run 90 feet from home plate. The winning run, 90 feet more.
No big deal.
"I like coming in with people on base because it makes me throw the pitches I need to throw," Fisherbaugh said. "And it's not only on my shoulders; it's on everyone else making plays."
We saw that. First, there was a great diving stab by second baseman Jon Hee. Baserunners frozen. Two outs. And then a strikeout in the dirt, the catcher dropped it, tag applied. The eighth inning was over. End of jam. Another "Newman!" moment for the man they call Fish. Like he's Abe Vigoda, out there. (He says he's never seen "Barney Miller.")
They call the Yankees' Mariano Rivera "The Hammer of God." Fisherbaugh should also have the nickname of some construction tool, or at least a household appliance.
The guy is that good.
In the bottom of the eighth Matt Inouye -- and, wow, is he hitting -- smacked an RBI double, insurance, and the 'Bows led 3-1. Then 4-1. Then a Derek Dupree bloop single, and the Rainbows had 5 runs -- at last, a big lead.
In the top of the ninth Fisherbaugh went out to end it. Strike. Strike. Ball. Strike. One out.
A long fly ball to center, Dupree caught it on the orange, over his shoulder, easing gently into the wall. Two outs.
Then a bunt, and Fisherbaugh gobbled it up, out at first, over. Pau.
Hawaii's top closer had done just that, shutting it with a deadbolt lock. Ka-thunk.
"You bring a guy in a tight situation you gotta have him be able to have the composure and the mental toughness to be able to handle that situation," Trapasso said. "And you need a guy who will either get you a ground ball or a strikeout."
"And he has to have the ability to where if he blows a save he can forget about it and come out the next night and do it all over again. And he brings us that mentality that you have to have."
But surely he must feel the pressure. Surely he must feel what Jim Leahey might refer to as "the enormity of the moment."
"Not really," Fish said. "Actually not at all any more. Since the first game my freshman year that I came in and gave up a home run to my first batter, I've never been nervous. I know what can happen."
So there you have it. He's the guy. He's having fun. And yesterday he did it again. Thrown into danger he emerged with all zeros. With the save.
More slamming. More shutting. More closing down.
How was he picked for this job? How did Trapasso know it was him?
"I don't think you pick out a guy," Trapasso said. "I think they earn it and they rise to the occasion."
"I LOVE it," Fisherbaugh said. "Love it."
So do they all.