13th-Inning Walk-Off Leads Baseball Over Sacred Heart


Jake Guercio (above) scored the winning run for Fordham on Wednesday. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

The seasons for Fordham’s baseball and softball teams are long, and the games of February and March will not necessarily play a factor in the teams’ final outcomes. That being said, there is still ample opportunity for these teams to test their resolve and get some wins under their belt before Atlantic 10 Conference play kicks off along with warmer weather.

Wednesday’s game between Fordham’s baseball team and Sacred Heart University was the best example of this: an early-season game that was exciting and fun, albeit without the ramifications of later contests.

Fordham defeated Sacred Heart 5-4 on Wednesday thanks to a 13th-inning error by Pioneers left fielder Isiah Daubon. The ball, which was hit by sophomore outfielder Jason Coules, went in-and-out of Daubon’s glove as he tried to track it down towards the left field wall, and the miscue allowed fellow sophomore Jake Guercio to score from second base and give Fordham its second victory of the season.

The Rams fell behind early in the game, as head coach Kevin Leighton’s team needed three pitchers to get through the first six innings. Freshman pitcher Ben Kovel and senior pitcher Marc Bisogno combined to allow three runs in the first four innings, and Sacred Heart had a 3-0 lead entering the sixth inning. In the bottom of the sixth, Fordham’s bats finally got to work, as hits by senior Alvin Melendez and freshman Zach Selinger cut the Pioneers’ lead to 3-2. However, Sacred Heart added an insurance run on catcher Joey Skarad’s RBI single in the top of the eighth.

However, Fordham’s offense would not go away. In the bottom of the ninth, with Sacred Heart three outs away from a win in front of a crowd of just under 200 people — which included Sacred Heart Athletic Director and former New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine — Fordham mounted a comeback. With runners on second and third, junior Jake MacKenzie grounded a base hit to the left side to score one and make it a one-run game. With MacKenzie on first and senior C.J. Vazquez on third, MacKenzie, one of the nation’s leading base-stealers a season ago, swiped second base. With the tying and winning runs in scoring position with one out, Melendez hit a fly ball to center to bring in Vazquez to tie the game. However, the next batter, sophomore Jack Harnisch, grounded out to end the scoring in the ninth inning.

Melendez may have been the game’s most valuable player; in addition to driving in two runs, he also pitched the final five innings and only allowed two hits while striking out nine batters. Melendez’s efforts as a two-way player will once again be critical to Fordham’s success in the 2020 season. 

Fordham is now 2-6 on the season, but early returns will not dictate future results. While early-season games are important for teams to figure out their identities and proper lineups, they are less important for the purposes of wins and losses.

Still, Fordham had a rather enjoyable victory on Wednesday, and the Rams were rightfully happy to have the game fall in the win column.