Baseball Dropped from NCAA Tournament by West Virginia, Texas A&M

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By Jimmy Sullivan

Fordham Baseball’s first NCAA Tournament appearance in 21 years ended almost as quickly as it started.

The Rams dropped their first game by a score of 6-2 to West Virginia University and followed that up with an 11-2 loss to Texas A&M last weekend. Fordham reached the tournament by virtue of winning the Atlantic 10 on its home turf the weekend before. In that tournament, the Rams went undefeated and finished off the championship with two straight victories on back-to-back days over Dayton University. However, they would have no such luck on the national stage.

Fordham’s first game against 15th-seeded West Virginia on Friday started out positively for the underdog Rams. Kevin Leighton’s team struck first on an RBI single by junior Matt Tarabek that plated speedy sophomore Jake MacKenzie from second base. Fordham would hold that lead until the bottom of the third inning, when sophomore hurler and Atlantic 10 Pitcher of the Year John Stankiewicz ran into trouble. A wild pitch, a sacrifice fly by Darius Hill and a bases-loaded walk to Darius Hill put the Mountaineers up 3-1, and they would not relinquish the lead for the rest of the night. West Virginia added insurance on Tyler Doanes’ two-run double in the sixth and Ivan Gonzalez’s RBI double in the seventh. Even though Fordham scratched a run across in the eighth, the Rams were unable to make a serious comeback and fell 6-2 in game one.

With the loss on Friday night, Fordham would be faced with a win-or-go-home matchup against Texas A&M University. Ironically, Fordham played the Aggies in their first series of the year and even though the Rams were swept, the familiarity could have helped them in this setting. Unfortunately for them, it didn’t.

Senior Anthony DiMeglio, in his last start in a Fordham uniform, had major issues in the first inning. The second batter of the game, Aggies second baseman Bryce Blaum, whacked a solo home run to left to kick off the scoring. Things continued to go downhill from there; right fielder Logan Foster hit an RBI single to make it 2-0 and Hunter Coleman’s three-run home run made it 5-0 before the Rams were even able to come to bat. When it was all said and done, DiMeglio conceded seven earned runs in 4.2 innings. Despite run-scoring hits by Tarabek and freshman Jack Harnisch, Fordham was unable to come back and lost 11-2 to end a historic 2019 season.

Despite a tough performance over the weekend, Fordham may be sending multiple players to the pros. Star sophomore closer Kyle Martin was taken by the Baltimore Orioles in the 15th round of the draft by the Baltimore Orioles earlier this week. After the draft, senior pitcher Anthony Zimmerman also received a contract from the Cincinnati Reds. While Zimmerman has already graduated, Martin will have a decision to make: either stay at Fordham for at least another year or take the money and run.

Despite being unable to win a game in the NCAA Tournament, Fordham Baseball will view this season as an unparalleled success. The Rams reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time in this century and did so using a style of play – one that emphasized small-ball, manufacturing runs and causing havoc on the basepaths – that few teams use, or have success with, in this day-and-age of the “three true outcomes.”

So even though the Rams lost, they can always view themselves as winners. After all, this season, that’s exactly what they were.