A three-run home run in the ninth inning from Fordham Rams pinch-hitter Jake Baker spoiled a beautiful sunny Tuesday afternoon in Hempstead, as that back-breaker proved to be the culprit behind the Hofstra Pride baseball team’s defeat, 7-4. The win snapped the Rams recent nine-game losing skid.
Twelve consecutive Hofstra hitters were retired from the fifth through the ninth inning, showcasing Fordham’s strong pitching out of the bullpen. The Pride was held to less than 10 hits for just the second time in its last six games.
“I thought Fordham played better today, they executed late and their relief pitching from the third inning on was really good,” said head coach John Russo. “I thought our pitching was good enough but long story short, they pitched and hit better today.”
Jorge Marrero (1-6) started the game for the blue and gold and lasted four innings. He scattered seven hits, allowing four runs while walking five. In his last 18.2 innings, Marrero has walked 22 batters, allowing 33 runs.
“[Marrero] looked like he had good stuff but five walks and one hit batsman… it’s just too much, too many free bases,” said Russo.
Fordham scored once in each of the first four frames. Mark Donadio homered on the sixth pitch of the afternoon and Matthew Kozuch had two RBI singles through the first four.
Hofstra – like they have done all season – chipped away. Trailing 2-0 in the second inning, a RBI groundout from Chris Hardardt and another RBI single from Steven Foster through the right side knotted things up at two. Foster has registered at least one hit in 12 of his last 15 contests.
“I thought we came out offensively really good,” Russo said. “The first three and a third we put up nine hits and four runs and left some runs on there. [Fordham] was just really good at the back end of their bullpen.”
Hofstra had some chances, especially in the opening inning when Brad Witkowski and Vito Friscia singled in back-to-back at-bats but an unassisted double play ended the threat.
Witkowski would eventually leave the game with an apparent back injury while Friscia continued his scorching season, hitting in eight straight while reaching base safely in 26 consecutive games.
Fordham retook the lead in the third and added temporary insurance in the fourth to go up 4-2. The scoreboard change was highlighted by a frozen rope double into the gap in right center from Rams infielder Reiss Knehr.
After the Pride scored four runs after a full four innings, Mike Cowell and Shane McDonald teamed up to throw 5.2 innings of no-hit ball, allowing just two base runners via the free pass.
Hofstra received just as strong pitching in relief from Michael James and Seamus Brazill but one mistake pitch from Brazill in the ninth proved to be the difference. That mistake was to a Fordham pinch hitter that had no extra-base hits through the first 32 games of his college career.
The loss was Hofstra’s 30th all-time in the series with Fordham and was the second consecutive time the Pride dropped one to the Rams; their last tilt coming on March 16 of last season.
“We need to get [John] Rooney and [Teddy] Cillis ready for the weekend,” Russo said. “We need to do whatever we can to win this series [against Elon].”
This weekend is critical for the Pride, as anything short of a series win will likely eliminate them from postseason contention. Hofstra hosts Elon beginning Friday at 3 p.m.