Baseball Loses Big Down South to Start Season

Billy+Godrick%2C+FCRH+%2720%2C+unsuccessfully+tries+to+advance+to+third+base+in+Fordham%27s+third+game+against+FIU.

COURTESY OF MICHAEL BERLFEIN/FIU ATHLETICS

Billy Godrick, FCRH '20, unsuccessfully tries to advance to third base in Fordham's third game against FIU.

By PATRICK MOQUIN, Sports & Health Editor

At the end of the 2019 season, Fordham baseball reached the pinnacle of the Atlantic 10 (A10) Conference, winning the championship against Dayton in a hard-fought 12-inning game. The start of their 2020 season in a series against Florida International University (FIU) is probably better left forgotten.

In order for college baseball teams in the northeast to begin playing in February like the rest of the country, they have to do some traveling. In their first weekend of non-conference play, the Rams traveled to Miami to face the FIU Panthers. It didn’t go well.

The first game was over by the end of the second inning. Starter Matt Mikulski, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’21, gave up two runs in the first inning on a well-timed double, but recovered to escape trouble. In the top of the second, Jake MacKenzie, Gabelli School of Business at Rose Hill (GSBRH) ’21, homered with no men on base to cut the deficit in half, 2-1.

As the Rams took the field for the bottom half of the second inning, the game was well within their reach. By the time they stepped back into the dugout, the game was over.

Three errors, two extra base hits and five stolen bases resulted in a six-run inning and an 8-1 lead for FIU. It was a nightmare inning, the kind that never seems to end. It was the first of many such innings for Fordham that weekend. 

By the end of their first game Friday, the Rams had lost by a score of 20-7. The Panthers scored at least one run in every inning and every pitcher for Fordham gave up at least two.

The second game, played the following day, was far more promising in the first few innings, mostly due to the efforts of one of Fordham’s most reliable pitchers. John Stankiewicz, GSBRH ’21, pitched three scoreless innings to keep the Rams competitive as they continued to struggle on offense.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, a single drove in the Panthers’ first run of the game. An error on the play by left fielder Jake Baker, FCRH ’20, allowed another run to score, and while Stankiewicz found his way out of the inning, he did not return for the fifth.

The Panthers scored six more runs in the next three innings while keeping the Rams scoreless. The score was 8-0 when the umpires called the game after seven innings due to rain.

Their third game on Sunday was somehow the worst in the series. Starter Joseph Quintal, FCRH ’21, did not get through the first inning, facing ten batters and giving up seven earned runs. He was pulled after walking the last two he faced, a sign that the offensive onslaught had taken its toll.

FIU scored 18 runs on 18 hits, driving in at least one run in all but one inning. The Rams’ two runs in the seventh inning meant very little in a game that ended in the first. At the end of the series, the Panthers defeated Fordham in all three games by a combined score of 46-9.

This series clearly looks bad on Fordham’s record, and will negatively affect their run differential for the entire season. However, it is important to remember that it has no effect on their record in the A10 Conference. It was a learning experience against a vastly superior team, an opponent with whom very few of the Rams’ actual rivals could ever hope to contend.

Last season, Fordham began their preseason against Texas A&M University and were outscored 26-7 over a three-game series. The Rams never played a team as good as the Aggies again that year, and the experience against tougher competition served them well later in the season. They won the championship in their own conference, and it took a considerable amount of fortitude to do so.

The Rams have seemingly repeated history so far this season, getting dominated in their first series by an impressive team down south. However, if the season continues along those same lines, there’s reason for Fordham fans to remain patient as spring approaches.