Last Friday, Fordham Baseball traveled to Philadelphia to take on the La Salle Explorers for its second conference series of the year. The Rams dropped the first game but came back strong on Sunday, winning both games of the doubleheader to take the weekend. These games, along with a Wednesday loss to Rutgers earlier in the week, brought the Rams’ season record to an even 16-16.
Fordham’s game against Rutgers — its only non-conference contest of the week — was a disappointing one for the offense. The Rams were held to just five hits, making it one of their weakest performances of the season. Rutgers’ trio of Serafino Brito, Christian Campbell and Kevin Romero pitched well, shutting out Fordham and walking just one batter on the day en route to their 5-0 victory.
Rutgers began to put runs on the board almost immediately. Rightfielder Tom Marcinczyk hit a triple to knock in Mike Carter and, on the same play, crossed home plate due to senior second baseman Joseph Runco dropping a relay throw. Another Fordham error in the second inning, this time a failed pickoff attempt by freshman pitcher Reiss Knehr, allowed another pair of Scarlet Knights to cross the plate.
In the fifth inning, a confusing sequence of events allowed Rutgers to score again. Senior pitcher Joseph Serrapica struck out Marcinczyk looking to end the inning, but as the rightfielder stayed behind to argue the call, junior catcher Pat Gardner tossed the ball out of his glove towards the mound as the Fordham defense cleared the field. The Rutgers bench believed it to be a dropped third strike, so Marcinczyk and catcher R.J. Devish, on third base, advanced, giving the Scarlet Knights their fifth run of the game. After some deliberation, the umpires determined that Gardner had indeed dropped the third strike, giving Rutgers an insurance run. The rest of the game was scoreless.
The weekend games did not feature as many mishaps, but they were far more consequential. Fordham won two out of three to improve its Atlantic 10 record to 4-2. The Rams had a rough first game, however, surrendering 16 runs to La Salle to lose by a margin of 12. Junior pitcher Kirk Haynes Jr. came into the game riding a streak of 29 consecutive scoreless innings, but he was shelled out of the gate, giving up seven runs before being pulled in the second frame.
Fordham tried five other pitchers in the game, but the Explorers were relentless. As they continued to push ahead, the Rams managed only four runs, two of them off the bat of senior shortstop Joseph DeVito. They also scored two in the eighth inning off an error, cutting the deficit to eight. La Salle tacked on four insurance runs in the bottom of the frame, securing the 16-4 victory.
Haynes’ poor outing on Friday was a disappointing development, but the Rams got the pitching performance they were looking for in the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader. Junior starter Greg Weissert fanned eight in just under five scoreless innings, while freshmen Anthony DiMeglio and Knehr relieved him and completed the shutout. Meanwhile, Fordham’s hitters finally got hot, lifting the team to a 9-0 victory.
The game was scoreless until the fourth inning, when junior centerfielder Jason Lundy hit a single to plate junior rightfielder Mark Donadio. One inning later, the Rams put their power on full display: hits from junior first baseman Matthew Kozuch and graduate student leftfielder Ryan McNally went for extra bases, each knocking in a run, while a home run from junior infielder and pitcher Luke Stampfl scored two. They tacked on three in the sixth inning, and Stampfl went yard again in the ninth, padding Fordham’s lead. It was the Rams’ first victory against La Salle since 2014.
The Rams continued their hot hitting in the second game. Stampfl singled with the bases loaded to put two runs on the board in the first inning. One frame later, McNally homered off La Salle starter Luke Reilly, also scoring Runco and DeVito. The Explorers scored two runs in the sixth inning, cutting Fordham’s lead to three. However, another RBI single from Stampfl in the next frame brought the margin to four, where it would remain for the rest of the game.
“Luke had a big day for us Sunday and it was great seeing him come through in those spots,” said head coach Kevin Leighton. “Having him healthy has been big for us, not just in the lineup but on the mound.”
Sophomore starter Ben Greenberg was solid in five innings of work, while Serrapica and senior pitcher Jimmy Murphy combined for four innings of scoreless relief to close out the series. Fordham took the final game 6-2.
Stampfl was the top offensive performer for the Rams during the series. He hit .462 with three extra-base hits, including two home runs and six RBIs. McNally, who hit .385 with four RBIs, also had a productive weekend, breaking out of a recent slump that came on the heels of a white-hot start to the season.
Through two conference series, Fordham’s record is 4-2, tied for fourth in the A-10. This week the team will host the Rhode Island Rams, who possess an identical conference record, at Houlihan Park.
“Rhode Island is tough. They pitch and grind out at bats, which is why they are at the top of the conference year in and year out,” said Leighton. “Being home should help us and I expect our guys to be ready for them. It will be a good challenge.”
The action will begin on Friday at 6 p.m.
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