Baseball Now 3-3 in Conference Following 1-2 Weekend at Rhode Island


Men’s Baseball has a 16-12 record after 28 games this season. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

By Jack McLoone

“I think, when you talk about just our conference games, I’d say we are at a B-,” said Fordham Baseball head coach Kevin Leighton about his team’s performance thus far. That grade seems fair, considering the Rams have now had a 2-1 Atlantic 10 conference series (against St. Bonaventure from March 22 to March 24) and a 1-2 series this past weekend against the Rams of Rhode Island.

If there’s any one player that could get an A in conference play, its sophomore pitcher Matt Mikulski, who was the winning pitcher in Fordham’s lone win this weekend on Friday. Mikulski earned A-10 Pitcher of the Week honors following his seven innings of shutout ball on Friday that earned the Rams a 2-0 win. He struck out 10 while walking three and also hitting a batter. He allowed just three hits. It was Mikulski’s second straight start with 10 strikeouts, and his 32 strikeouts are the second-most on the team.

“Matt has front-line stuff when he commands his fastball,” said Leighton. “I think in his last two outings, he’s been able to do that and work ahead of hitters more, which has led to more strikeouts.”

That makes it four consecutive weeks that a Fordham Ram has won A-10 Pitcher of the Week. Sophomore pitcher John Stankiewicz won last week and three weeks ago, with freshman pitcher Cory Wall sandwiched in the middle.

The Rams sent their ace in Stankiewicz to the mound on Saturday. While he pitched well — 5.2 innings, two runs (one earned), six strikeouts and two walks — he wasn’t very efficient, clocking 107 pitches in those 5.2 innings.

He was replaced by senior Anthony DiMeglio, who struggled almost immediately. He came in with a runner on third and two outs with Fordham up 2-1 but struggled to finish and gave up four runs before finishing the inning. They were all charged as unearned, but he certainly didn’t help himself by giving up a two-out single and triple.

The offense wasn’t able to muster much of a comeback, scoring just one run in the seventh before losing 5-3.

The final matchup in the Battle of the Rams started on Saturday but turned into a marathon that had to be completed on Sunday morning.

Junior starter Alvin Melendez gave up a two-run home run in the first inning and another in the second without recording an out before he was pulled in favor of freshman Gabe Karslo. Fordham was already down 3-0.

For the most part, Karslo locked down the Rams of URI, allowing just one run over five innings of work while striking out six. After scoring a run in the fifth, Fordham tied the game at three on an RBI double from sophomore second baseman C.J. Vazquez and an RBI single from junior outfielder Jake Baker.

However, Karslo’s lone run came in the bottom of the frame, so once again Fordham trailed.

Things got dire in the top of the ninth, with Fordham down three runs, 7-4. However, some Ram-style station-to-station baseball allowed two runs to score on a single by sophomore first baseman Nick Labella. The Rams then took the lead in a not-Fordham way, a two-run home run by senior catcher Justin Bardwell, who has been struggling so far this season at the plate. He came into that game batting just .214 but went 3-6 to raise it to .233.

“I think Justin will heat up,” said Leighton. “He’s always been a pretty clutch hitter. I think at times this year he’s tried to do a little too much and just needs to try stay up the middle, which sounds easy!”

The Rams had junior closer Kyle Martin on the mound, who leads the team with four saves and had 10 last season. But with two outs and a runner on second, the Rams couldn’t close the door. Vazquez committed an error to extend the game and a double by the next batter tied it to send the game to extra innings.

The two Ram squads ended up playing 12 innings, but suspended the game after 11 innings to finish up the following morning. After Fordham failed to score in the top half on Sunday, they sent senior Anthony Zimmerman to the mound, who had yet to allow a run in 11.2 innings this season. After striking out the first two batters, he walked the next two and hit a third before allowing a walk-off RBI single to end the game 9-8 in URI’s favor.

“We need to do a better job of limiting the free bases, whether that be walks, [hit by pitches] or errors on the defensive side, and we need to execute better as an offense,” said Leighton. “We have some tough opponents coming up, and we need to start clicking on all cylinders if we expect to win.”

While the Rams had 39 hits this past weekend, they only had 15 runs to show for it, and rarely scored them in clutch situations. The defense committed just three errors, but all of them resulted in crucial runs as well. As a pitching staff, the Rams combined for 23 walks and hit by pitches.

Fordham is next in action today against Siena at 4 p.m., then at home for three games against St. Joseph’s this weekend, starting at 3 p.m. on Friday.