Following a tough weekend series at Manhattan, the Marist Red Foxes returned home to host a midweek against the Fordham Rams. Sensational pitching and clutch hitting, helped the Red Foxes defeat the Rams 11-2 in an impressive team win.
Marist’s hottest pitcher, senior Jack Keenan, was given the start. The southpaw has only allowed one run and struck out 11 over his last 8⅔ innings pitched. He was attempting to continue his stellar pitching against the Rams, but back-to-back soft singles to start the game put the Red Foxes in an immediate predicament. Fordham had runners at first and third with no outs, but a crucial strikeout of freshman Tommy McAndrews, followed by a caught stealing and a ground out allowed Marist to alleviate the first inning jam.
With momentum from the unscathed inning, Marist needed to strike quickly to do their starter justice. Graduate student Dominic Cunha had zero command, surrounding three walks and two hits in just the first inning. Graduate student Brian Hart has been one of Marist’s most reliable hitters this year and he broke the ice with a single to right to bring home the first run, his team-leading 33rd run batted in on the season. Freshman outfielder Ethan Conrad added a second run later in the inning with a two-out RBI single to left field.
“I think that us punching first, instead of trying to play catch up is the main thing. If we punch first, it gives ourselves a better chance to win.” head coach Lance Ratchford said.
Senior Jack Wren relieved Keenan following a dominant second inning that saw him strike out three batters in the inning. Ratchford planned to preserve his top arms in this midweek game and give a few of his underused pitchers in-game action.
“Midweeks are a great time for guys to basically try out,” Ratchford said. “Guys like Wren, guys like Mazza, Keenan, are going to have another opportunity this weekend. Those guys proved that they can get outs against a really good team in Fordham.”
Not only has Hart driven in the most runs, but he has left the ballpark the most times. In the bottom of the third, the left-handed slugger flexed his opposite-field power with a long fly ball over the left-field fence for his ninth home run of the season.
“He left a fastball up and away and I just went with it,” Hart said.
After senior Justin Kapuscinski walked, senior Danny Moshier, playing his first game in six days, drove a double to right field to extend the Marist lead to four.
Aside from allowing one unearned run, Wren pitched phenomenally in three innings of work. The entire Marist pitching staff collectively had a massive turnaround compared to last week’s massacre against Columbia.
“This past weekend, I think we only used six arms, so I feel like if we’re able to be deeper and lengthen out guys, it puts less pressure on our guys that have been overworked,” Ratchford said.
Graduate student Niko Amory provided key insurance runs after Marist conceded one in the fourth. With two outs and two in scoring position, Amory gave the Red Foxes much-needed breathing room with a line drive single to center to increase their lead to five.
The pitching staff was excellent from the first inning to the ninth. Freshman Steven Mazza took over after Wren, allowing just one run in 2⅔ innings pitched. In the top of the eighth, Mazza loaded the bases, but freshman Caleb Kempler in just his second collegiate appearance controlled the damage, only allowing one to score on a wild pitch before striking out junior Michael Taylor to end the Fordham threat.
The little scare at the top of the inning is all the motivation Marist needed to put this game to rest. Catapulted by a leadoff single by senior shortstop Dylan Hoy – extending his hitting streak to 15 games with a two-hit performance – the Red Foxes put up a five-spot to effectively close any comeback thoughts by the Rams.
“Playing a solid midweek rolls us right into the weekend of just having that good feeling of confidence going into it,” Ratchford said.
Marist returns to .500 at home and will have a few days off to prepare before starting an important conference matchup against Iona this weekend. The Red Foxes improve to 10-29 (4-8 in MAAC play) and will host the Iona Gaels on Friday, Apr. 28 at 3 p.m.
Edited by Andrew Hard
Photo from Kira Crutcher