Sixth-inning struggles sink Fordham Prep

Fordham Prep could only navigate its way through adversity and cling to a one-run lead for five innings.

The Rams managed just three hits and survived some defensive miscues because ace Conor McNamara worked his way in an out of jams, before things went south during a disastrous sixth

The usually unflappable McNamara, couldn’t find the feel for his pitches, according to Rams coach Pat Deane. He hit three batters, giving up three hits and three runs in the frame to Archbishop Stepinac.

The Fordham offense remained quit in an eventual 3-1 loss to the Crusaders in CHSAA Bronx Westchester baseball on April 11 at Houlihan Park.

“He hit three guys in one inning; he hasn’t hit three guys in three years,” Deane said. “Whatever it was, the ball wasn’t turning over for him, maybe it was his release point.”

McNamara wasn’t outstanding throughout the first five innings, but he showed immense reliance, constantly getting out of tough situations with the help of his defense. He had quite the battle with catcher Joseph Silvestri at the plate in the second. He prevented a run from scoring in the third, despite the Crusaders getting a runner on second with one out and their third and fourth hitters batting.

McNamara fought and kept the game scoreless until the sixth, despite not having his best stuff. In the fourth, he had his first 1-2-3 inning and thought he may have been getting into his groove, but it just never happened. First baseman Richie Rodriguez’s bases-clearing double in the sixth gave the Crusaders (6-0) the lead. Rodriguez finished 2-for-3 with three RBI.

“I was kind of leaving the ball over the plate every once in a while and they were putting good swings on it,” McNamara said. “I thought I was finally going to get in my groove and settle in, but kudos to them. They kept putting good swings on the bat and being aggressive.”

Despite the effort on the mound, the Rams lost the game at the plate with Crusaders pitcher Mattingly Simaan holding them to just four hits. Deane wants to see his team be more patient with the bats late in the count moving forward.

“We know Mattingly well,” Deane said. “He’s thrown against us a couple of times. He was hitting his spots and we were jumping a little bit, getting a bit antsy. We have to do a better job at the plate.”

Junior Mike Papelo drove in the sole Rams run in the fourth, after senior James Hulbert singled and stole both second and third.

“He was definitely throwing the off-speed pitches, but he was throwing them when he was getting ahead in the count,” said Papelo. “We had to do a better job of jumping on that first pitch, because he was throwing a lot of first pitch strikes.”

The Rams drop to 5-3-1 and 2-3 in league play after the loss. Despite the one rough inning for McNamara, confidence and trust are still high within the dugout.

“We’re going to win a lot more games than we lose with him on the mound,” Deane said. “There’s no doubt about that. Any time we throw him out there we expect to win.”

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