The Fordham baseball team had its hands full this weekend as it faced national powerhouse LSU down in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The Tigers spent the week ranked in the top 10 in multiple polls and Fordham coach Kevin Leighton called them a “tough opponent.” The Rams finished the weekend winless, returning to New York with a 3-7 record on the season.
Friday’s game started off with a pitcher’s duel supported by tight defense. The scoreless matchup did not last long though, as the Tigers were able to get to junior starter Greg Weissert. Michael Papierski popped a three-run homer in the bottom of the fourth to serve as the catalyst for LSU’s scoring. An additional run in the inning was just the start as a pair of Fordham relievers allowed five runs while securing just one out in the sixth inning.
In the seventh inning, a wild pitch by sophomore Jake Bernardo uncorked and a throwing error by junior catcher Pat Gardner allowed a pair of runs to score on a single play. Down 11-0, senior Joseph DeVito knocked in Fordham’s only run with his second single of the day. Jordan Romero tagged freshman Ryan Davis with a pinch-hit home run, nullifying the effects of Fordham’s run. All told, LSU came out of the first game with a 12-1 victory. Jared Poche pitched seven shutout innings for the Tigers but allowed eight of the Rams’ 10 hits.
The first game of Saturday’s double header was just as agonizing for the Rams. Senior Joseph Serrapica was handed his third loss of the season, as Fordham’s starter pitched four innings and watched six Tigers cross the plate. Fordham only managed three hits in the early game, all against starter John Valek III. Three LSU batters rounded the bases, including one who hit an inside-the-park home run. The Tigers scored in six frames and managed multiple runs in five of those. With minimal offense and suspect pitching, Fordham lost the second game to LSU 15-1.
The third and final game of the weekend was the most competitive, but the Rams still fell short of a win. Senior Jimmy Murphy was ineffective and allowed three runs before he was taken out after the second inning. Sophomore Ben Greenberg stopped the bleeding as he shut down LSU over the next couple of innings. Meanwhile, Fordham was putting together a comeback on offense. In the top of the third, the Rams began their scoring when DeVito crossed the plate on a wild pitch.
DeVito then led off the fifth with a single, followed by a free pass issued to junior Jason Lundy. With two outs, the Rams connected for three consecutive singles to take a 4-3 lead. The RBIs were attributed to graduate student Ryan McNally and juniors Matthew Kozuch and Mark Donadio. McNally has a hit in all 10 games played this season, giving him a .364 batting average.
Junior Luke Stampfl led off the sixth with a single and came around to score one of Fordham’s two runs in the inning. In the seventh inning, Stampfl laced another single, this one to score Kozuch and put the Rams on top 7-3. All of their work came apart in the bottom of the frame as the Tigers scorched four doubles and a triple. LSU put up a crooked seven in the seventh inning to retake the lead for good. Fordham threatened again in the ninth by getting the tying run to the plate, but a game-ending double play extinguished the threat.
Three pitchers gave up runs to the Tigers in the seventh, but it was sophomore David Manasek who was hung with the loss. LSU outhit Fordham 15-12 and outscored them 10-7 in the final game of the weekend.
While the Rams lost by large margins, Leighton was pleased to see some positive signs from his players. “Some of the guys that have gotten off to a tough start with the bat started to show some signs of breaking out, and to do that against LSU is a good sign,” he said. “Playing in that environment was incredible and I’m sure our guys
will always remember that and benefit from it.”
Fordham plays its first home game of the season on Wednesday against Manhattan College and hosts three more games against different teams over the weekend. After a tough stretch of road games, the Rams will look forward to playing on familiar turf. “The rivalry is important to us,” said Leighton. “I expect our guys to be fired up to play.”