This was a bizarre week for Fordham Baseball from the start.
The Rams were supposed to take on the University of Rhode Island this weekend in the Bronx. Rhode Island was unable to play this weekend due to issues with COVID-19 contact tracing. After a successful week in which it won four out of five games, Fordham wanted to continue playing. The Rams already had a scheduled opponent, Army West Point, for this past Tuesday but wanted to add some action this weekend. Fordham was ultimately able to schedule Towson University for a Saturday doubleheader, and the Rams looked to continue their winning ways.
Instead, Fordham found difficult matchups this week, and a run-in with an old friend did them in along the way.
In Saturday’s first game, the Rams got a shortened outing from senior pitcher Matt Mikulski. The star left-hander tossed four scoreless innings, striking out eight and walking three while giving up three hits. The issue for Mikulski, though, was a high pitch count, as patient Towson at-bats forced him to throw 92 pitches in those four innings. While Mikulski was able to escape without allowing any runs, his high pitch count forced him out of the game after four innings.
The Rams scratched across their first run of the game in the third, when junior outfielder Jake Guercio grounded into a double play with the bases loaded. In the fifth, with Gabe Karslo on the mound, Fordham catcher Will Findlay attempted to pick Towson’s Nolan Young off first. The throw went awry, and former Ram Billy Godrick came home to score the tying run.
The Rams struck back in the sixth, but once again, Fordham could not get more out of a bases-loaded opportunity. Senior first baseman Nick Labella grounded into a double play, and while it drove in a run, the Rams were unable to get anything more out of a promising rally.
As Fordham tried to piece together the final few innings of the game, more trouble emerged. In the eighth, with freshman Declan Lavelle on the mound, Towson started its comeback. Young whacked a double down the left-field line to start the inning, but he was later retired at third base on a fielder’s choice. After a one-out walk to Javon Fields, he and Noah Cabrera attempted a double steal of second and third base. Another throwing error by the Fordham catcher — this time junior Andy Semo — allowed Cabrera to come home with the tying run.
In the ninth, after Fordham failed to get anything going in the top half of the inning, the Tigers continued to attack Lavelle. Nick Brown led off the inning with a single, and Jacob Terao followed with a single of his own. Lavelle was removed in favor of senior pitcher Joe Quintal, and the next batter, Brandon Austin, bunted to third base. Fordham infielder Jack Harnisch committed a fielding error, which loaded the bases. With no one out in the inning, Danny Becerra grounded into a fielder’s choice, but the bases were still loaded.
An opportunity to win the game with one out in the ninth was left to Godrick, who spent the previous four seasons in a Fordham uniform. Godrick delivered, hitting an RBI single to right and winning the first game for Towson, 3-2. Lavella earned the loss, despite the fact that both of the runs he allowed were unearned. The unsung hero for Towson was reliever Kody Resser, who threw four scoreless innings in relief and earned the win for his efforts.
In the second game, Fordham once again jumped on top. Labella scored the game’s first run on a wild pitch in the second. While Towson’s James Lysaght hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom half of the inning, Fordham answered with two runs in each of the next two innings. In the third, Semo drove in a run with a double, and in the fourth, junior Jason Coules drove in Findlay with an RBI single.
But Fordham junior Garrett Crowley, who had pitched so well in his last outing against St. Bonaventure, gave it right back in the bottom half of the fourth. Austin hit a drive into deep left field in the fourth inning to make it a 3-3 ballgame and kickstart another Towson comeback. Fordham’s offense floundered in the next three innings, unable to get a runner on base in that time. In the seventh, Godrick struck again, putting the Tigers in front with an RBI double. After Fordham was unable to cash in an opportunity in the eighth, Austin drove in his third run of the day with a double. Towson pitcher Austin Weber locked down the Rams 1-2-3 in the ninth, and Towson swept the hastily-scheduled doubleheader with two close victories.
On Tuesday, Fordham visited Army after the Rams defeated the Black Knights 3-2 last week. This week’s game didn’t go so swimmingly for the Rams.
With the midweek game, Fordham head coach Kevin Leighton used an “opener” strategy, turning to freshman pitcher James Springer and piecing the rest of the game together from there. Springer struggled in the first, allowing an RBI single to Carter Macias and an RBI double to Nick Manesis to negate Labella’s RBI in the first.
Leighton went to his bullpen after the first, enlisting sophomore Alex Henderson to pitch the second. His first inning went even worse than Springer’s. After allowing two runners to reach base, Henderson conceded a two-run triple off the bat of Macias and an RBI single by Anthony Giachin. The game had been blown open with two outs in the second inning, and it was up to the Rams to try to mount a comeback.
Ultimately, Fordham was unsuccessful in its comeback attempt. Giachin’s two-run homer off Fordham senior Alex Hernandez made it 8-1.The only other offense Fordham could muster was a sacrifice fly by senior infielder C.J. Vazquez in the ninth inning. Junior Ben Kovel, freshman Brooks Ey and Quintal pieced together four scoreless innings in relief, but Fordham could not get meaningfully closer for the rest of the game.
With the three losses this week, Fordham’s record on the year stands at 16-10. This week’s events shouldn’t affect Fordham’s quest for an Atlantic 10 title, as long as the Rams don’t let it. Fordham will look to get back in the win column against St. Joseph’s University this weekend, with four games scheduled over three days starting on Friday in Philadelphia.