Baseball Drops Two of Three in Final Out-of-Conference Series


Fordham’s struggles against Massachusetts Lowell came on the offensive side, as the Rams failed to score more than two runs in all three games. (Julia Comerford/The Fordham Ram)

By Jack McLoone

The pitching has been there for Fordham Baseball all year, but the offense has struggled to get on track all season long. The Rams’ series on the road against UMass-Lowell showcased the opposing sides of these two trends in a split doubleheader on Saturday before ending up right back where they started with a 3-2 loss in extras on Sunday. The Rams are now 26-20.

The offense came to play in game one of the doubleheader, taking a 9-2 win, largely on the back of junior left fielder Jake Baker. He went 3-4 for four RBI, including a two-RBI triple in the seventh. Additionally, sophomore second baseman C.J. Vazquez and junior right fielder Alvin Melendez stole two bases each.

On the mound, the Rams evenly divided the workload, giving three innings apiece to sophomores Matt Mikulski and John Stankiewicz and the final three to junior Brian Weissert. The first two gave up one run each while Weissert faced just three batters over the minimum.

Stankiewicz’s ERA went up for the second straight start in a row, to 1.20, but is still good for sixth-best in the country.

In the second half of the doubleheader, the pitching was much more suspect. In the seven-inning affair, due to it being the back half of an out-of-conference doubleheader, the Rams lost 8-2.

The warning signs were there early when freshman Cory Wall worked into a runners-on-the-corners jam with two outs before getting a strikeout to end the threat.

In the second inning, he did not fare as well, but escaped giving up only one run. Luckily, the Rams had also scored in the second inning off of a Baker sacrifice fly out.

In the next inning, Wall gave up three more runs on four hits and only got out of the inning thanks to a strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out.

Fellow freshman Gabriel Karslo relieved Wall in the fourth but fared no better, giving up four runs in his frame to squarely put the Rams out of comeback range.

On the offensive side, the Rams had just five hits, all singles.

In the rubber match on Sunday, the Rams sent senior Anthony DiMeglio to the mound, who gave up just two runs — both in the first — but had to work hard, getting into multiple jams but escaping all but the first one.

The Rams’ offense, meanwhile, were threatening early thanks to a leadoff double by Vazquez, but he stayed put. In the first five innings, the Rams had a runner on second in four of them, including bases loaded with one out in the fifth, but failed to drive any of them home.

They finally got on the board in the sixth inning when Baker, who had a huge weekend, singled home a run. After stealing second, he was driven home by Melendez, tying the game at two runs each in the sixth inning.

There it remained into extra innings. The Rams had yet another bases-loaded, one-out situation in the eighth that they squandered, and they had runners on second and third with two outs in the 10th inning that they also failed to drive home.

In the bottom of the 10th, in his second inning of work, junior Kyle Martin gave up back-to-back doubles after striking out the first batter to give UMass-Lowell the walk-off win, 3-2.

Despite the loss, the volume of traffic on the basepaths for the Ram offense was an encouraging sign for Fordham baseball head coach Kevin Leighton.

“Although we came up short, we did swing the bat well, we just couldn’t push runs across in the third game especially,” he said in an email. “I think if we keep hitting the ball like we did and getting guys on, we will be able to score runs.”

Meanwhile, the strength of the pitching will be a major factor in keeping the Rams in close games.

“I’d say the biggest thing is that we have a pretty talented group of pitchers that have worked hard throughout the year,” said Leighton. “After that, they have done a great job of limiting big innings, and making some pretty big pitches when we have needed them to.”

The Rams will have three more series to try and improve their standing in the Atlantic 10 conference ahead of the A-10 Championships which will be played at Houlihan Park. Their first will be on the road against George Mason starting Friday, May 3.