Are You Ready for Some Baseball?

Are You Ready for Some Baseball?

Talk baseball with Head Coach, Adam Taylor on Tuesday at 1:00 p.m.

There has been no shortage of successes for Franklin & Marshall baseball in the new millennium. Since 2001, the Diplomats have won two Centennial Conference championships, produced 41 All-Centennial honors, posted a record of 182-124, and has been to the Conference tourney in all but one year. Success, of course, comes with its own perils. The F&M baseball program has seemingly become an official stepping-stone to Ivy League coaching positions. The last two Diplomat skippers, Brett Boretti and Bill Walkenbach, charted respective courses to Coulmbia and Cornell.

Seizing the helm is Adam Taylor, who served the last three seasons as an assistant at William & Mary. With the Tribe, Taylor worked closely with the squad's hitters and catchers. Under his tutelage, W&M led the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) in team batting average in both 2007 and 2008 (.319 and .343). W&M's hitters also led the CAA in doubles (155), triples (17), and total extra base hits (247).

Ryan Horning is another new face on the F&M bench, coming from Cornell. His primary responsibilities with the Big Red included skill instruction for infielder and outfielders, as well as hitters. Horning has built an impressive resume for a young coach.

There is one familiar face on the F&M bench. The steady hand on the wheel over the past several seasons is pitching coach Matt Scheuing. The former Millersville and Lancaster Barnstormers star has consistently produced one of the nation's top staffs in his first three years. 2009 should not be any different.

Leading the rotation is senior right-hander Matt Metsch. Metsch, who will serve as one of four captains for the season, made 10 appearances last year, posting a 3-4 record and a 4.14 ERA. Metsch allowed the fewest hits on staff with 48, tying him with Brad Andres.

Andres returns to the rotation after making eight starts in nine appearances last season. After a rocky start to the year, the right-hander finished strong producing a 3-4 record, a 7.93 ERA, and 30 strikeouts. His ERA dropped to 4.64 in league-play. According to Coach Taylor, Andres has the best arm on the staff and a real chance to be a dominant pitcher within the conference.

Mike Duranti, a sophomore right-hander, will take to the mound for the Diplomats after posting a 4-1 record last year with an ERA of 4.75. He had a 1.91 ERA headed into the final game of the season. In 30.1 innings of work, Duranti struck out 25 batters and surrendered just six walks. Along the way, he did not allow a triple or a home run.

Rounding out the 2009 rotation is right-handed pitcher, Jason Anderson. Anderson was 0-2 with a save in six appearances, totaling six innings of work with one strikeout per frame.

Coach Taylor's key closers consist of sophomore Brendan McCreary, Nick Markel, and sophomore Chris Miller. Miller made six relief appearances last season earning a win in his longest outing - three innings against Lebanon Valley. In his 10 appearances Markel produced a 1-0 record and a 4.23 ERA. The sophomore recorded 22 strikeouts in 27.2 innings of work. McCreary worked 5.1 innings a year ago.

The Diplomats feature only two seniors in the lineup amongst the six returning starters. Rightfielder Shea Mortiarty was an All-Centennial first team choice last year after leading the team in batting average (.418), on base percentage (.480), run scored (38), hits (56), total bases (72), and stolen bases (12). He was also a member of the conference's Academic Honor Roll.

Flanking Mortiarty in centerfield is 6-2 sophomore Eric Bornstein. The relatively inexperienced Borsntein played in 16 games with six starts in last year's campaign. Bornstein made the most of his time, piecing together a pair of multiple hit games and three multiple RBI games. Coach Taylor expects 2009 to be a breakout year for Bornstein, who has the potential to be a strong hitter in the Diplomats' lineup.

Junior Nick Rolnick rounds out the outfield. A 6-0, 200-pound power-hitter, Rolnick appeared in seven games last year picking hits against Albright, Washington, and Dickinson. Taylor anticipates that Rolnick's power, which he says is tops on the team, will translate into gaudy offensive numbers. Rolnick could also see time as the designated hitter, with J.T. Triantos, Matt Valente, and Connor Devlin platooning in left.

Getting the starting nod at first base is junior Jason Anderson. Anderson had a statistically tremendous 2008 season at the plate, leading the team in slugging percentage (.552), RBIs (33), doubles (13), and triples (3). Because of his efforts, Anderson was named to the All-Centennial Conference First Team as the designated hitter. He recorded 15 multiple hit games along with a 13-game hitting streak. Anderson's power should land him somewhere in the middle of the batting order.

Sophomore second-bagger, Matt Will, will set the table for the Diplomats. Will appeared in 25 games last season with 15 starts and notched a .323 batting average. Coach Taylor considers Will the prototypical leadoff man and believes that his natural instinct will be a key factor in the success of this year's version of the Diplomats. Last year's team was 9-6 when Will was the leadoff man. He is a constant threat to pilfer a bag, successfully doing so six-out-of-seven times last season.

Andrew Hanson will supply senior leadership at shortstop. A consistent force to begin with, Hanson displayed his ability to erupt on a tear, going 12-for-17 with nine runs scored, six doubles, three RBIs and three stolen bases in a span of one week. Hanson also hit safely in seven consecutive plate appearances over two games against Washington and marked seven multiple hit games and three multiple RBI games.

Bill Murray brings a wealth of experience to third base for F&M. In 125 at-bats last season, Murray knocked in 27 runs and earned himself a .312 batting average. Murray, a junior, also recorded ten multiple hit games last season.  

The Diplomats backstop will be senior captain, John Dutton, sophomore Russell Tischler, freshman Justin "Blue" Wells, or some combination thereof. Tischler made appearances in two games last season, notching two RBIs. Coach Taylor believes that the 6' 5", 205-pound Wells, could evolve into a dominant offensive player. He may well see time at first base. Dutton appeared in two games last year picking up one hit in his two at bats.

F&M was slated for a second place finish in the Centennial Conference coaches' preseason poll. Johns Hopkins, who appeared in last year's national championship, was picked first with all but their own first place vote, which they assigned to Haverford. The Fords were picked third overall, followed by Muhlenberg and Ursinus.

The Diplomats open play with four on the road, including three in Jersey. The March 6 season opener will be played at Kean at 2:30 p.m. F&M will play 12 games down south before opening the home and Centennial slates with Washington College on Tuesday, March 24.