Iona baseball gets first win of 2022 campaign

Giovanni Paolo Tagliafierro, Sports Editor

The Iona baseball team notched their elusive first victory of the 2022 season with an 8-5 win over Saint Peter’s on April 14 at City Park in New Rochelle.  


Iona was on the verge of suffering another tough loss at the hands of a conference opponent, as the game was tied 5-5 heading into the eighth inning. However, Iona would not let their chance at their first win slip away.  


Junior outfielder Nick Forney opened the inning with a leadoff double, getting a man in scoring position with nobody out to setup the heart of the Gaels’ lineup for a decisive, go-ahead RBI. After senior Will Jennings reached on an error, fellow senior Jake Field delivered with a run-plating single to break the tie and put the Gaels up a run.  


Iona continued to pad their lead in the eighth with a Luca Lotito RBI single, and a subsequent knock by second baseman Phoenix Bowman to grow the lead to 8-5.  


Junior relief pitcher Gavin Bates came out as the closer and sealed the win for the Gaels, striking out two batters in a one-two-three top of the ninth and earning his first save of the season in Iona’s first save opportunity.  


The victory marked head coach Conor Burke’s first win at the helm of the Maroon and Gold. Burke graduated from Queens College in 2012 and took over as Iona’s head coach prior to the 2022 season.  


Burke is currently the second-youngest Division I college baseball head coach in the nation. 


The Gaels’ struggles on the diamond this year have been well-documented. Their current 1-29 record is the most potent evidence to this claim.  


The most troubling aspect of Iona’s disappointing season is that the team’s seniors, who make up a majority of the lineup, are either not producing at their expected level or not getting enough opportunities to drive in runs with men on base.  


Iona’s numbers this season represent their struggles. The team has a minus-300 run differential and has only mustered 85 runs through 30 games this season. Their team batting average sits at .216, which is surprisingly only the third worst in the conference, while their opponents are hitting .335 against them.  


The team’s leading offensive threat has been their cleanup batter Field, who has only been able to drive in 12 runs this season.  


An aspect to consider in understanding Iona’s difficult season is that the team has only played a total of thirty games in the past two seasons due to the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Senior athletes are often looked to for their experience, and the fact is that most of Iona’s seniors are essentially playing in only their second full season of games.  


The Gaels will look to gain as much as that experience as they can over the remainder of the regular season as they already have to begin looking towards next year for a chance to compete in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament.  


Whether this season’s failure is due to a lack of talent, depth or inexperience with a full schedule, it is certain that Burke and Gaels baseball will feature a lot of new faces next season and have a chip on their shoulder to perform better.