The Roswell Invaders’ successful baseball season is coming to an end. With eight games left in the regular season and a record of 36-19, the Invaders are in second-place in the trailing Tucson Saguaros by two games in the Southern Division. The Invaders have secured a playoff spot as they attempt to claim their fourth championship in the Pecos League, their last being in 2015.
Two of the key players helping to lead the Invaders this year has been league MVP candidate Brian Portelli. Portelli is leading the Pecos League in hitting with a .423 batting average, 30 home runs and recently broke the Pecos League RBIs with 107.
“Something I’ll always have in my back pocket and I’ll always keep the baseball with it written on it,” Portelli said. “That’s probably the coolest thing I’ve done in my career.”
Portelli played two years of junior college baseball in Michigan at Grand Rapids Community College and then Florida International University in Miami. This is his first year playing in the Pecos League — he’s played in the Frontier League with Southern Illinois minors and Traverse City Beach Bums in 2015 and 2016.
The Invaders have always been known for their hitting, but this season they have been getting innings from their starters. When it comes to having to close games out, Invader manager Relly Mercurio has been able to turn the ball over to closer Lance Fairchild.
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“We’ve had a great season,” Fairchild said. “We just had a small mid-season slump, but we’ve broken out of that. We just need to stay consistent and finish strong. Overall, I think it’s been a great season.”
After playing baseball at Cedar Valley, a junior college in Dallas, Texas, Fairchild transferred to the University of Texas Permian Basin, a Division II school in West Texas. Fairchild has played for the Invaders for three seasons and will age out of the league after this season. The Pecos League has an age limit and Fairchild will be too old. Fairchild knows that eventually, he will have to give up the game he loves and has played since he was 3 years old.
“At my age,” Fairchild said, “I’ve kind of let go of playing in the major leagues, it’s every baseball player’s dream. I do coach baseball, and that’s kind of where I’m switching gears to focus on that. Playing baseball here and in the various other leagues I’ve been in have helped my resume overall.”
Fairchild has been a coach during the off-season for three seasons at the same place he played junior college baseball. In transitioning between his playing career to coaching, Fairchild hopes to be a head coach at the college level one day and help players develop in their careers.
Fairchild still hopes to play in the big leagues if he gets called up and says that’s the reason he’s still here with the Invaders, because he thinks he can do it.
“Being able to play baseball every day is a dream come true,” Fairchild stated. “No matter what level. I’m having a lot of fun doing it. I’m gonna keep playing each day and do my best. Hopefully that leads me to a higher league.”
With Portelli’s passion for the game he plans to play baseball as long as he can. When it is time for him to hang up his spikes, he would like to coach high school baseball and work in real estate.
“Find something you love and stick with it,” Portelli said.
The Invaders started the season off on a hot streak and then cooled a bit. With the season coming to a close, they are hot again in time for the playoffs.
“The team chemistry is good,” Portelli said. “I really think that’s huge with a team winning a championship.”
By Mikayla Fuller
Roswell Daily Record