Baseball Opens 2013 Season With Series Against Michigan
Feb. 22, 2013
Port St. Lucie, Fla. - The Fordham baseball team opens its 154th season this weekend, as the Rams take on the Michigan Wolverines at the New York Mets Training Complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida. The Rams begin their second season under head coach Kevin Leighton in a series that features two of the top five winningest programs in NCAA baseball history.
SCOUTING MICHIGAN: The Wolverines opened their season at Cal last weekend dropping three one-run decision to the Golden Bears.
Offensively, Michael O'Neill collected six hits in 13 at bats (.462) in the Cal series, which included three doubles, while Patrick Biondi and Travis Maezes each had four hits in the series with Maezes driving in two runs.
On the hill, Michigan will throw the trio of RHP James Bourque, LHP Evan Hill, and LHP Trent Szkutnik. Bourque got a no-decision in his first start against Cal, allowing three runs on seven hits with four strikeouts in six innings of work. Hill was very good in his first outing, allowing just one run on five hits over seven innings. Szkutnik came out of the bullpen last week and got hooked for one of the losses, allowing two runs on four hits with five strikeouts in three innings of relief
SEASON PREVIEW: The 2013 season will see a large turnover on the roster for the Fordham Rams with 11 freshmen joining the squad, and possibly four of them starting immediately for the Rams. Here's a breakdown of the Rams:
PITCHING: The biggest strength for Fordham this season should be the pitching staff, which returns a number of veterans and four freshmen that will see action immediately. Senior Joseph Charest will be at the top of Fordham's weekend rotation followed by senior Rich Anastasi, and junior Chris Pike, giving the Rams' an experienced trio.
Charest was the Rams' top starting pitcher a year ago, leading Fordham starters in wins (5), ERA (3.43), complete games (4), and innings pitched (105.0), while Anastasi will make the transition from the bullpen to the rotation in 2013.
Anastasi has been one of the Rams' top relievers over his first three seasons at Rose Hill, making 69 relief appearances compared to only two starts. Last season was Anastasi's best thus far, posting a 2.45 ERA and four saves in 27 appearances, while striking out 51 batters in 47.2 innings.
Pike returns for his third season in the rotation and looks to continue as one of the Atlantic 10's top starting pitchers. Over his first two seasons, Pike has a 12-3 record in 28 appearances with a 3.67 ERA and 129 strikeouts.
Adel made great strides as a junior, posting one of the lowest single season ERA totals in Rams' history. He finished the year as the Rams' closer with six saves, a 1.54 ERA in 23 appearances, and had a .220 opponent batting average. Adel could be pushed for that closer role by Swatek, a former Second Team All-Atlantic 10 relief pitcher as a freshman, who was unable to pitch for most of the 2012 season.
On top of the 11 returning pitchers, Fordham has brought in a number of talented pitchers in this year's recruiting class, which includes Jimmy Murphy, Joseph Serrapica, Cody Johnson, Brett Kennedy, and Connor Fuller. All of the freshmen, except for Fuller, who will miss this season, should compete immediately for time on the mound.
CATCHER: Behind the dish, Fordham returns three catchers, led by junior Ryan Phelan. Phelan started 34 games in 2012, recording 15 RBI, and will compete with sophomores Jack Hinman and Ryan Carroll, as well as freshman Charles Galiano for the starting job this season.
Neither Hinman nor Carroll saw action last season, while Galiano was a highly touted catcher in high school, as he was drafted in the 37th round by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2012 MLB First Year Player Draft.
Of the returnees, senior Mike Mauri will most likely be the starting first baseman after a breakout season at the plate last season. The utility infielder hit a team-best .325 with 26 runs scored, 32 RBI, and nine stolen bases as a junior, and should take on a bigger leadership role with a young infield. Junior Rob McCunney should also be in the mix at third base, as he will battle freshman Ian Edmiston for that starting job. McCunney had an abbreviated 2012 season, playing at both second and third base, but missed a good portion of the year following an injury on a hit by pitch.
Besides Edmiston, freshmen Joseph Runco and Joseph DeVito will most likely be the starting second baseman and shortstop to begin the year. DeVito was a top 100 recruit in New York State playing at Holy Trinity High School, while Edmiston was a big bat for Lake Norman High School in Charlotte, North Carolina, hitting .465 as a senior, which included a .595 mark in conference play. Runco was also a very productive hitter at North Pocono High School in Pennsylvania, hitting no worse than .429 in each of his last three seasons.
Others that will battle for playing time this season in the infield as well as at designated hitter include senior Joseph Conway, junior Brendan Maghini, sophomores David Judisky and Joseph Calabrese, freshman Tim O'Connor.
Lee, a three-year starter, had a sub-par junior year at the plate, hitting .250, but still managed to post 27 RBI and a team-high 11 stolen bases. Swatek moves back into the outfield full-time, as he put together a solid second season at Fordham, hitting .281 with 13 doubles, four home runs, and 19 RBI. Cianci, who will fight for the starting left field spot, was selected to the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team last spring after starting 49 of 50 games and hitting .250 with 34 runs scored, 14 RBI, and 10 stolen bases.
Freshman Ryan McNally should also be in the mix for the starting spot in left field. He was a Second Team All-New Jersey selection as a senior at Pope John XXIII High School, posting over 20 RBI and 20 stolen bases. Junior Sam Careccia will also be fighting for playing time in the outfield.
UPCOMING GAMES: The Rams will travel to Wichita State for their next series, March 1-3, before having the home opener at Houlihan Park on March 5th against Wagner.