Fordham Baseball Dominates Iona in Weekend Series Sweep

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COURTESY OF FORDHAM ATHLETICS

Matt Tarabek, GSBRH '20, blasted a two-run home run in Fordham's third game to give the Rams an early 5-0 lead.

By PATRICK MOQUIN, Sports and Health Editor

In their first weekend home series of the season, Fordham baseball swept the Iona College Gaels in three games by a combined score of 32-3. The Rams’ power at the plate proved superior, with 39 Fordham hits and 11 total defensive errors from Iona, making the weekend more of an exhibition than a competitive series.

The three games were originally supposed to be contested over the course of three days, but late showers postponed the game Friday and extended Sunday’s day of baseball into a doubleheader. As a result, the first game was instead played on Saturday, and it proved to be the most competitive contest by far.

Saturday’s game was not quite as explosive as games to come, but there was never any real doubt as to who was in control. Fordham scored in four of the first five innings to take an early 5-0 lead. Iona responded with a run in the seventh, but it wasn’t nearly enough to prevent the Rams from cruising to an easy victory.

At the plate, Matt Tarabek, Gabelli School of Business at Rose Hill (GSBRH) ’20, went 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs. Meanwhile, Jason Coules, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’22, continued his menacing hot streak, going 3-for-5 and driving in two runs.

On the mound, Matt Mikulski, FCRH ’21, handled Iona batters easily, pitching five and two-thirds innings and allowing five hits and no runs while striking out six batters. In relief, Jack Popolizio, FCRH ’23, and Ben Kovel, FCRH ’23, continued what Mikulski started to hold the Rams’ lead to the end.

By the end of the first day, any fan in attendance would have been able to identify the better team. The second day of play, however, would demonstrate how much better the Rams truly were. In the second game of the series and first game of the Sunday doubleheader, Fordham made the Gaels nostalgic for the mercy rule.

In five innings, the Rams scored an astounding 16 runs and eventually won in a virtual walkover. There is little point in discussing standout performances at the plate, as every single Fordham batter contributed to a scoring play.

Pitchers had very little to worry about over the course of the game but performed well nonetheless. Cory Wall, FCRH ’22, started and threw five scoreless innings, allowing only three hits from Iona batters.

Considering the routine thrashing the Gaels underwent in the first game of the doubleheader Sunday, it benefited Fordham greatly to play them again just a half-hour later. The psychological battle was already won; it was now a matter of performing on the field. The Rams did just that from the very beginning.

After scoring one run in the first inning, Fordham exploded in the second. Walks and errors are often culprits when finding the source of rallies, and the Gaels had plenty to provide to their Bronx rivals. Nick Labella, GSBRH ’21, walked, and a single by catcher Andy Semo, GSBRH ’22, advanced him to second. From there, things became silly in the Iona infield.

Billy Godrick, GSBRH ’20, singled to drive in Labella from second, but Semo was spotted trying to reach third base from first. He was still 20 feet away from the bag when the Gaels’ shortstop received the cut from the outfield and attempted to throw to third. The throw sailed wide and rolled all the way to the backstop, resulting in a second Fordham run and a man on second base.

The next batter after this defensive fiasco was Tarabek, and he sealed his opponent’s fate with a single swing. The crack of the bat gave fans advance notice that Fordham had a five-run lead. The ball cleared the left field wall by a few feet, traveling just far enough for Iona’s left-fielder to watch it leave Houlihan Park.

Fordham had momentum, and didn’t relinquish it. They eventually won the game 11-0 in another runaway. Tarabek finished the day going 1-for-2 with 3 RBIs and one run scored. Jake Baker, FCRH ’20, also performed well, going 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored. Between the two of them, they had a part in six of the Rams’ 11 runs.

On the mound, John Stankiewicz, GSBRH ’21, did more than enough to keep the Gaels in check. Over five innings of work, the New Jersey native allowed no runs on five hits and one walk while striking out nine batters, an incredibly impressive amount in so little time.

The Iona Gaels are in no way competitive with teams like Fordham, and this became increasingly clear as the series wore on. The Rams didn’t play perfectly themselves, with aggressive base running and the occasional defensive mishap leading them into more trouble than they should have been in at certain points.

However, the entire lineup hit very well, and the errors by Iona were far more impactful in extending Fordham rallies. It remains to be seen how the Rams compare to their fellow Atlantic 10 rivals, but such a dominant performance over a clearly inferior team is an encouraging sign.