Baseball Looks To Bounce Back in 2022

Fordham Baseball’s season kicks off this weekend in Texas. (Courtesy of Instagram)

Fordham Baseball’s season kicks off this weekend in Texas. (Courtesy of Instagram)

After numerous seasons impacted by COVID-19, Fordham Baseball hopes to return to the top spot in the Atlantic 10 standings. With the 2021 schedule featuring multiple postponements and cancellations, 2022 looks to be a brighter spot for baseball; 2021 was certainly not what the team hoped for. Finishing fourth in the A-10 with an 11–9 conference record, this 2022 season hopes to bring a comeback to the A-10 Championship.

“Our guys will be excited to play and improve what they can do,” said head coach Kevin Leighton. The team has its work cut out for it as it plans to travel for three three-game series to start the year.

Major League talent just left Fordham in the form of pitcher Matt Mikulski, who went 50th overall in the second round of the MLB Draft. That marks the second-highest draft pick in program history (he signed with the San Francisco Giants). Other graduating players include Nick Labella, who led the team in slugging and Alvin Melendez, who finished his career sixth all-time at Fordham in stolen bases (76), seventh in career ERA (2.36) and tied for fifth in career saves (14). Fordham also said goodbye to one of it’s relief pitchers Alex Hernandez and a critical piece of their outfield in Colton Snelling.

However, the team adds 11 new freshmen into the mix and brings back strong hitting. Four out of five of the top hitters during the 2021 season make their return this year. Graduate student C.J. Vazquez returns this year, coming off an impressive 2021, leading the team with a .312 batting average. Helping him are senior outfielders Jason Coules and Jake Guercio. Coules led the team with 46 hits and Guercio led the team in OBP (on-base percentage) at .432. 

Freshmen entering the roster include pitchers Robbie Stewart, who impressed coaches on the mound during fall ball, and Connor Haywood, coming off of an injury and a recipient of the Newtown Cy Young Award. Rounding out the freshman pitching is Anthony Scarlata, a two-time second-team All-Skyland Conference member in New Jersey.

Looking forward to the season schedule, the Rams will face tough competition from many teams. The Rams will face Atlantic Coast Conference  team Virginia Tech for a road series later this February as well as Florida Atlantic University before returning home to the Bronx for matchups against Long Island University  and Marist College. 

The Rams kick off their A-10 play on April 1 against Saint Louis University. Other A-10 competitors to face the men include the University of Massachusetts , whom Fordham took two out of the three against in 2021, and St. Bonaventure University, who played the Rams eight times that season, with the Rams winning six out of eight of those games. 

The team registered impressive numbers last year, not only on the field but in the classroom. Just recently, Fordham Athletics released their graduation rates for athletes, and the men posted a 100% graduation rate in the program. “I’ve graduated every guy that we’ve ever recruited, and that’s something that we just really take pride in,” said Leighton. 

In what is sure to be an exciting season for the Rams, the team is ready to go out and leave it all on the field. “It’s definitely gonna be a tough start. I think the good thing is we have an older group, especially positionally, that know what to expect, and they’re not going to be intimidated,” said Leighton. 

The Rams’ season begins this Friday with a game against Texas A&M University and will return to Houlihan Park for a one-game series against Sacred Heart University on the 23rd.