Fordham Baseball won two games this week, extending its win streak to 14 games — dating back to last season — and continuing its undefeated start to the 2021 season. Despite the positive outcome, Fordham’s path to reaching this point was anything but easy.
The Rams visited Stony Brook University on Tuesday after their weekend sweep over NJIT. The Seawolves entered the game with just a 2-3 record, but that didn’t mean it would be an easy task for the Rams.
Freshman pitcher Cameron Knox had a rough collegiate debut, giving up four runs in just two innings. Knox’s outing got off to a slow start from the jump, as Stony Brook senior John LaRocca whacked a leadoff home run to give the Seawolves the early lead. Fellow senior John Tuccillo added an RBI double later in the inning to make it a 2-0 game. Despite Fordham junior infielder Jack Harnisch’s RBI double in the second, the Seawolves soon expanded the lead, with a run-scoring wild pitch from Knox and a sacrifice fly from LaRocca.
Fordham later experienced another instance of “one step forward, two steps back.” Junior outfielder Jake Guercio hit an RBI single to score Will Findlay in the fourth and cut the Stony Brook lead to two. But the Seawolves answered with three runs over two innings, via a passed ball from Fordham sophomore catcher Will Findlay, an RBI single from Stony Brook freshman Evan Fox and a sacrifice fly from Seawolves graduate student Chris Hamilton. Fordham found itself down 7-2 with just nine outs to play.
But instead of packing it in and moving on to the next day’s game against Sacred Heart University, Fordham’s offense got to work.
Senior first baseman Casey Brown got the party started with a mammoth two-run home run in the top of the seventh to make it a three-run game. Senior infielder C.J. Vazquez reached on an error in the eighth inning, which allowed junior catcher Andy Semo to score. Later in the inning, Guercio scored on a wild pitch and all of a sudden, the five-run deficit was down to just one.
After sophomore pitcher Alex Henderson pitched his third and final scoreless inning in the eighth, Fordham’s offense set out to complete the comeback in the top of the ninth inning. Sophomore infielder Zach Selinger singled and was replaced on the bases by freshman Joe Bladel. Senior Nick Labella singled and moved Bladel to third. Then, Semo’s fielder’s choice drove home Bladel and tied the game at seven. Two batters later, the Rams finally broke through for their first lead of the game; Harnisch’s RBI single and, subsequently, Vazquez’s run-scoring hit made it a 9-7 lead for the Rams.
Senior pitcher Joe Quintal came in to close out the comeback victory. He worked around a leadoff walk to retire the final three batters and secure Fordham’s comeback win.
Perhaps to the relief of the team’s players and coaching staff, the next day’s victory was not nearly as difficult.
Sacred Heart entered Houlihan Park on Wednesday, having won just one of its first seven games. The Pioneers had scored under two runs per game and had a staff ERA of nearly eight. Both were dismal figures, and neither improved after Wednesday’s game.
Fordham starting pitcher Gabe Karslo set the tone for his day with a 1-2-3 first inning. Fordham’s offense set the tone for its day with five runs in the bottom of the first: Labella drove in two with a single, Selinger drove in two more with a triple and Semo drove in another run with a sacrifice fly. The Rams attacked Sacred Heart starter Chase Jeter for three more runs in the second inning, as Labella and Selinger both drove in runs with more timely hits.
Fordham’s pitching staff may have been the star of the show on Wednesday. Karslo threw a dominant five innings, allowing just two hits and a walk, to go along with five strikeouts. Junior right-hander Michael Ghirozi, Bladel, sophomore Ben Kovel and sophomore Jack Popolizio each threw scoreless innings of their own to complete the combined shutout and lead Fordham to an easy 10-0 victory.
With the win, Fordham has now won 14 consecutive games, dating back to the end of last year’s abbreviated season. The Rams have a weekend series coming up with Fairleigh Dickinson University before another home midweek game with Stony Brook next Wednesday. Despite Fordham Athletics’ COVID-19-related pause to end the month of February, Fordham Baseball doesn’t look like it has lost much time at all.