Originally published in The Fordham Ram on April 12, 2017.
After a canceled flight on Thursday resulted in Fordham Baseball being rerouted to St. Louis via Syracuse, the Rams’ weekend was thrown out of whack. Instead of three games from Friday to Sunday, they played a doubleheader on Sunday. After dropping the first game, the Rams were able to leave Saint Louis on a better foot than the one they arrived on with a win.
The Rams and head coach Kevin Leighton have definitely settled on their go-to weekend arms. First up was sophomore Reiss Knehr, who turned in yet another quality performance. Over his six innings of work, he allowed three runs one unearned on seven hits. He only had two strikeouts, but also only walked one.
The first two of the Bilikens runs came in the fourth inning. Senior third baseman Matthew Kozuch’s errant throw on a bunt attempt sent one runner home, and an RBI single by the next batter made it 2-0 Saint Louis.
Knehr’s other run was a solo home run in the sixth inning. He was relieved by senior Shane McDonald, who worked a clean seventh.
However, the inexperienced Rams bullpen imploded in the eighth. Freshman Marc Bisogno got the first batter he faced to line out, but the next four batters resulted in three singles, a double, a stolen base and three more Saint Louis runs. He was relieved by another freshman, Brian Weissert, who struggled even more mightily.
Weissert was unable to record an out, walking the first batter he faced, giving up a two-RBI double to the next one, allowing a runner to move up on a wild pitch and then one more single.
“I thought Marc was in the middle of the zone too much, and Brian was missing the zone too much,” said Leighton. “Both will result in a difficult day. We also had some mistakes behind our pitchers that inning that didn’t help them.”
Junior Parker Barnell was next in line, and the first batter he faced rolled a ground ball towards third. However, Kozuch committed his second error of the day and another run crossed the plate. Kozuch was pulled following the error with freshman Justin Machado replacing him.
Barnell gave up one more run in the inning, pushing the score to its final of 10-0.
The Rams’ bats went quiet in game one of the doubleheader. They had just six hits, and never had more than one baserunner before the ninth inning. And even in that frame, the second baserunner following a single from junior outfielder Ryan Jennings was senior catcher Pat Gardner reaching on an error.
In game two of the doubleheader, the Rams fortunes reversed. Graduate student pitcher Jimmy Murphy continued his remarkable stretch of immaculate performances, spinning seven innings of one-run ball. He had five strikeouts and just one walk while scattering eight hits.
The Rams looked to come somewhat alive right away, with a two-out double from sophomore catcher Justin Bardwell and a wild pitch putting a runner just 90 feet away, but a lineout stopped their threat.
But in the third inning, Fordham was able to take advantage of pitching miscues of Saint Louis starter Jackson Wark. He walked senior outfielder Ryan Mahoney to start the inning. After a sac bunt from senior outfielder Jason Lundy, Kozuch drew a walk to put runners on first and second with one out. That quickly became runners on second and third with one out on a wild pitch. Wark battled back to strike out freshman outfielder Jake Baker, but it was Bardwell who came through with two outs. His double plated both runs, putting Fordham up 2-0.
After Saint Louis halved the lead in the bottom of the fifth, the Ram, once again were major beneficiaries of Biliken miscues. Three of the first four batters reached on an error, with the other reaching on a walk. The last of the errors, a groundball to short from sophomore first baseman Brian Goulard, plated the first run of the inning. Freshman shortstop Matt Tarabek, playing in place of an injured Luke Stampfl, wore a pitch to late the second, making it 4-1 Fordham and forcing a Saint Louis pitching change.
The next arm did not fare any better against the bases-loaded, none-out situation, allowing back-to-back RBI singles to put Fordham up 6-1 before he finally stopped the bleeding.
Fordham tacked on one more run in the eighth, once again thanks to another error, bringing the game to its 7-1 final. All in all, Saint Louis committed four errors and five of Fordham’s seven runs were unearned. The Rams had the same number of hits six in both halves of the doubleheader.
Freshman Alvin Melendez continued his dominance in the late innings, relieving Murphy in the eighth. He worked two innings of one-hit ball, walking one more.
“I think in the first game we ran into a very good pitcher, and in game two we were able to capitalize on a couple of Saint Louis’ mistakes that allowed us to open up a bigger lead,” said Leighton. “Ultimately when you can put pressure on an opponent, mistakes will be made, and I thought we did a good job of that in the second game.”
With the doubleheader split, Fordham Baseball is now 14-13, with a 4-4 conference record. Its next series starts this Friday on April 13 at 2 p.m. against Saint Joseph’s at home. The Rams are 10-1 so far this season at Houlihan Park.