By MAX PRINZ
The Fordham baseball team picked up its third home win and its first Atlantic 10 Conference win of the season last week, but stumbled to a 3-5 record overall. The Rams won the final game of a three-game series with Sacred Heart, and defeated George Mason 8-5 in the final game of a three game set for their first conference win.
The weekend series with Sacred Heart was the Rams’ first home series of the season. It began with a Saturday doubleheader that did not go well for Fordham. The Rams dropped both games, losing 4-2 and 6-0.
The Rams did manage to turn things around in game three, using a five-run fourth inning to fuel a 7-6 victory. Senior Tim Swatek had quite a game as he pitched seven innings, knocked two base hits, scored two runs and tallied an RBI. Freshman Greg Weissert pitched two scoreless innings to record his third save.
“I changed my swing a little bit, I shortened my stride up,” Swatek said. “I’m just riding out this hot streak.”
Next on the schedule, the Rams had a pair of single game series. Fordham won a home game against Quinnipiac 8-6, but lost a road matchup with Hofstra. Freshman Shane McDonald pitched five innings, struck out five and surrendered just two earned runs to earn the win against Quinnipiac. Swatek, freshman Matt Kozuch and sophomore Ian Edmiston each had a pair of RBIs to propel the Fordham offense. Against Hofstra, the Rams were simply unable to counter a six-run outburst in the third inning, and went on to fall 11-4.
The Rams had their first A-10 series of the year this past weekend, as they traveled to Virginia for a three game series with George Mason. The Patriots’ offense proved too much for the Rams in the first two games. Fordham lost both games, 7-4 and 6-0.
The Rams’ offense got its revenge in the third and final game of the series. A four-run first inning set the tone for an 8-5 win. Edmiston’s three-RBI double was the highlight of that first inning, and senior Rob McCunney, following Edmiston’s example, hit his own bases clearing double in the seventh. Swatek surrendered just four hits in six innings of work to record his third win of the year.
“You can never lose three games in conference,” senior Ryan Phelan said of the team’s first conference win. “There was definitely a sense of extra urgency, that extra incentive to play.”
That first conference offers a future model the Rams hope to follow.
“We came out; we swung the bats well,” senior J.C. Porter said. “We just need to show up every day with that same intensity.”
Through the first 19 games, the Rams’ record is a sub-par 8-11. Problems have come both on the mound and at the plate. Through Monday, the Rams are hitting just .251 as a team, while the pitching staff has allowed opponents a .308 batting average against. With just 33 games remaining, Fordham baseball has some work to do if it hopes to reach head coach Kevin Leighton’s stated goal of 35 wins.
There are, however, some bright spots for the Rams. The two senior leaders on offense, Swatek and McCunney are hitting .394 and .333, respectively. Further, the freshman closer, Weissert, has been a revelation out of the bullpen. His four saves alone are double the Rams’ total from a season ago.
An upcoming series with Dayton offers the Rams their second look at A-10 competition. The Flyers will visit the Bronx for three games this weekend.
“We need to get on the board early as far as offense,” Swatek said. “If we can keep getting on them, get runs and get ahead, I think that’s the biggest difference.”
Max Prinz is Sports Editor at The Fordham Ram.