AUBURNDALE, Fla. – Franklin & Marshall's bats came alive in game two of Saturday's doubleheader against Wentworth, earning the Diplomats a split on the final day of their spring break trip to the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational. The Diplomats (5-8) mounted a furious last-inning rally in game one but fell just short, 6-5, before taking it to the Leopards (8-2) by a 13-2 margin in game two.
Trailing 6-1 entering the final inning of game one, the Diplomats put together a thrilling two-out comeback bid. With the bases loaded, Kevin Shields smoked a bases-clearing double on a rope to left field to cut the deficit to 6-4.
Alex Vescera then came through with an RBI single to left that scored Sam Gladstone, who pinch ran for Shields, and just like that the Diplomats had the tying run on the base paths. Back-to-back walks to Avery Attinson and Rob Anderson loaded the bases once again and forced another Leopard pitching change – their second of the inning – but Corey Jerolmon recorded the final out on the mound for Wentworth to register the save and end the contest in dramatic fashion.
Wentworth starter Dakota Baird (2-0) notched the win in 6.0 innings of work, striking out four while scattering eight hits and allowing one run. F&M's Paul Giulio (0-2) took the loss, fanning three batters in 5.1 innings.
Aaron Gillette and Vescera both tallied three hits in game one, with Gillette crossing the plate twice and Vescera adding an RBI. Shields went 2-for-4 with three RBIs and Joe Gallitto went 2-for-3 in the loss.
Game two was all F&M from the start as the Diplomats poured it on the Leopards with seven runs in the opening frame and all 13 of their scores in the first three innings.
Shields had another strong performance at the plate in game two, recording a game-high four RBIs while going 2-for-2 and scoring twice. Vescera also was impressive as he posted a 2-for-3 line with three RBIs and touched home once. Will Benenson and Mike Giannone added two hits apiece, while five other F&M batters notched a hit in the landslide victory.
F&M tallied season highs in hits (13) and RBIs (11) en route to the season-best 13 runs in the nightcap.
The early advantage allowed the Diplomats to mix a variety of players into the lineup as 19 position players saw time, including several freshmen making their first career appearances. Four pitchers were deployed throughout the seven-inning contest, with each proving to be effective in their time on the mound.
Brendan DeMond improved to 2-1 on the year in earning the win for F&M, tossing 4.0 innings and striking out three. Chris Houston, Gareth Fancher, and Thomas Keegan closed out the win for F&M, each recording one strikeout in one inning of work on the rubber.
F&M hosts Elizabethtown in its home opener on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m.