Fordham Advances To A-10 Championship

Though only six runs came across the plate, it was a wild and turbulent opening game on day three of the 2019 Atlantic 10 Baseball Championship, held at Fordham’s Houlihan Park.  In the end, Fordham’s Jason Coules drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, while Nick Labella drove in the other three runs, as the Rams defeated the Dayton Flyers, 4-2, to advance to the Atlantic 10 Championship final on Saturday.

With the win, Fordham improved to 37-22, breaking the modern day school record of 36, set in 1988 and 1990, while Dayton fell to 31-25-1.

Fordham got things rolling in the second inning, as Matt Tarabek was hit by a pitch and moved to second on a ground out.  Nick Labella followed with an RBI-double to left center, scoring Tarabek for a 1-0 lead.

The score looked to go to 2-0 in the sixth inning, when Jake MacKenzie hit a fly ball to center with C.J. Vazquez coming home from third base on a sacrifice fly.  However, Dayton appealed the play and Vazquez was called out for leaving early.

Dayton then took the lead in the bottom of the inning, scoring twice for a 2-1 lead.  The Flyers loaded the bases with Connor Wilson hitting a ground ball up the middle.  MacKenzie tagged second for one out, but couldn’t make the relay throw, getting by Labella at first and allowing two runs to score.

Fordham answered back in the seventh, tying the game at two.  Alvin Melendez led off with a single, stole second, and moved to third on a failed pickoff attempt.  After a walk to Tarabek, Labella put down the safety squeeze bunt to score Melendez and tie the game.

The Rams then regained the lead in the eighth and added an insurance run in the ninth for a 4-2 lead.  Jake Baker lined a leadoff single to right in the eighth and was sacrificed to second.  Jason Coules followed with an RBI-double to left center, scoring Baker for the lead.  In the ninth, Tarabek singled, was sacrificed to second, and scored on a single by Labella.

Facing Fordham’s Anthony Zimmerman, Dayton was able to get the tying run to the plate, but Fordham turned a 5-4-3 double play and got a ground out to third to complete the 4-2 win.

Anthony DiMeglio earned the win, improving to 6-3 on the year, allowing one earned run on six hits over seven innings with six strikeouts.  Zimmerman recorded his third save, as he struck out two in two innings.  At the plate, Labella was 2-for-3 with a double and three RBI, while Tarabek was 1-for-2 with two runs scored.

The Rams will now await the winner of the consolation bracket, as the championship final begins at noon on Saturday.–