Diplomats Clinch Playoff Berth

Diplomats Clinch Playoff Berth

LANCASTER, Pa. – Franklin & Marshall secured a spot in the Centennial Conference (CC) playoffs with a 6-1 victory over Swarthmore in game one of Saturday's doubleheader, before falling 13-10 to the Garnet in the nightcap. The Diplomats move to 20-17, 11-7 CC with the twinbill split, while the Garnet are now 22-16, 10-8 CC.

F&M enters next weekend's CC Tournament as the No. 4 seed and will take on top-seeded Johns Hopkins in the opening round on Friday in Baltimore. Second-seeded Gettysburg will host third-seeded Haverford in Friday's other first round matchup, with the ensuing rounds set for Saturday and Sunday at JHU.

A quick start and a strong eight-inning outing from starter Brendan DeMond lifted the Diplomats past the Garnet in game one. F&M came out of the gates firing with a three-run bottom of the first. Aaron Gillette and Alex Vescera led the inning off with back-to-back singles, and Gillette gave the Diplomats a 1-0 edge after racing home from third base on a throwing error by the Swarthmore catcher.

Matt Mezansky registered the first of his game-high two RBIs with an single through the left side of the infield that scored Vescera, before Avery Attinson pushed the lead to 3-0 with a sacrifice fly to deep center field that plated Kevin Shields.

Mezansky's second RBI came in the third as he ripped a single to center that allowed Vescera to cross home plate, and the Diplomats rounded out their scoring in the fourth with a pair of runs. Rob Anderson scored on another Garnet throwing error, while Vescera knocked in Gillette with a sacrifice to center to push the F&M advantage to 6-0.

Tim Kwilos got the Garnet on the board in the top of the fifth with an RBI single to right, but DeMond cruised through the ensuing three innings to put the Diplomats in prime position for the win. The senior righthander concluded his day with eight strikeouts while walking just one to move to 7-2 on the year. Vescera struck out a pair of batters in the ninth to record the final outs on the mound for F&M.

Luke Alventosa (3-2) took the loss for Swarthmore, allowing six runs, four earned, on 11 hits while striking out four and walking three in six innings.

Mezansky paced the Diplomats in game one with two hits and two RBIs, while Vescera went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored, Gillette notched two hits and touched home twice, and Anderson also registered a pair of hits in the victory.

Game two was a much different story as the Diplomats fell behind big early and chipped away at the lead throughout, but were unable to complete the comeback bid, falling in a high-scoring affair, 13-10.

Several Diplomats posted multiple RBIs in the contest, with Vescera, Shields, Will Benenson, and Josh Mendelson tallying two RBIs apiece. Mezansky capped off a productive day with a team-high three hits and an RBI in the defeat.

Swarthmore took a commanding 9-1 edge after two frames with a three-run first and a six-run second, but F&M came storming back with a five-run bottom half of the third to pull within 9-6.  The Garnet responded in the top of the fourth, however, tacking on three more runs to jump out to a 12-6 margin. The Diplomats notched a pair of scores in the bottom of the fourth to make it 12-8, and cut the deficit to 12-10 with a two-run eighth, but the Garnet escaped several quality opportunities for F&M and eked out the win.

Paul Giulio (3-3) suffered the loss on the mound for F&M, while Sean Mangus earned the victory in 1 2/3 innings of relief for the Garnet.

F&M returns to the diamond on Friday for the first round of the CC Tournament at Johns Hopkins. Game time is yet to be determined. Check back to GoDiplomats.com for updates.