Staff Report

Northfield Cardinals coach Joe Bunting had to wait a little bit for Cole Fowler to join the team this summer. He was busy winning a junior college national championship with Rowan College of South Jersey-Gloucester.

But the wait certainly was worth it, as Fowler has put together an MVP-type of season in the South Jersey South Shore Baseball League, and his heroics this week helped propel the Cardinals into the SJSSBL Championship Series for the first time. The Cards will face the winner of tonight’s Game 3 matchup between No. 1 Margate and No. 4 Hammonton in a Best-of-5 Championship Series that begins Monday at the higher seed. No. 3 Northfield beat No. 2 and two-time defending league champion South Jersey Surf in two straight games in the Best-of-3 semifinals to advance.

On Monday night, Fowler had all three of Northfield’s hits, including a solo home run, in the Cardinals’ 2-1 win over the Surf. On Tuesday night, he followed that up with a game-winning, bases-loaded, walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh as the Cardinals (17-9) rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win, 4-3, and punch their ticket to the Championship Series.

The Cardinals have now won six straight, including four in the playoffs, and Fowler has been a big reason why. He’s hitting nearly .500 and is among the league leaders in average, hits and RBIs. This spring he led RCSJ-Gloucester to a 53-5 record by hitting .416 with six home runs, 34 RBIs and 48 runs scored. The Clearview High product also had 24 doubles, 10 stolen bases and an on-base average of nearly .500.

On Tuesday night, he had the chance to be the hero thanks in large part to rising Vineland High senior Yoan Feliz, who blasted a game-tying three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning, and former Egg Harbor Township High standout pitcher Brandon Riggs, who improved to 7-1 on the season by allowing just three runs on six hits while twirling a complete game.

Fowler finished the game 3-for-4 with a double and a run scored, and in two games against the Surf he went 6-for-7 with a home run, double, two runs scored and an RBI.