Cougars Rally Late, End Diplomats' NCAA Run

MOOSIC, Pa. – Franklin & Marshall saw its season come to a close in heartbreaking fashion on Thursday afternoon as Misericordia put together a five-run ninth-inning rally to defeat the Diplomats 7-5 on day two of the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional at PNC Field.

Leading 5-2 entering the top of the ninth, the Diplomats (23-21) needed just three outs to advance in the loser's bracket, but the Cougars (37-10) wouldn't go away without a fight as they mounted a furious last-inning comeback to end F&M's season.

Misericordia quickly loaded the bases with nobody out behind singles from Ryan Cacchioli and Dylan Mazzo, sandwiched by a walk from Joe Tagliarini. Chris Boroch followed with an RBI single to pull the Cougars within 5-3, before Kyle Lindsay knotted the score at 5-5 with a two-RBI single down the right field line. Steve Sulcoski and Kenny Durling added RBIs to give the Cougars their first lead of the game, 7-5, putting the pressure on the Diplomats in the bottom of the ninth.

F&M had opportunities to climb back into the contest in the bottom of the ninth as Matt Mezansky and Kevin Shields opened the frame with back-to-back singles, and Pat Andrews notched a one-out walk to load the bases. Cougar reliever Cory Vogeli tallied consecutive strikeouts to end the contest, however, giving Misericordia the dramatic 7-5 win.

Vogeli (5-1) picked up the win in five innings on the mound, delivering a strong relief performance for the Cougars. Vogeli took over for starter Ryan Dorosh in the fifth, striking out five while walking two on six hits.

After falling behind 1-0 in the first, the Diplomats steadily built a lead with single scores in the second, third, and fourth innings to take a 3-1 advantage. Mike Smeriglio notched an RBI groundout to the right side of the infield in the second to knot the score at 1-1, Kevin Shields launched a sacrifice fly to deep left in the third, and Brian Erb raced home from third on a Misericordia throwing error in the fourth to push the F&M edge to 3-1.

Durling's two-out RBI single through the left side in the top of the fifth pulled the Cougars within a 3-2 deficit, but Shields and Andrews registered RBIs in the bottom half of the frame to stretch the lead to 5-2.

Alex Guerra entered on the mound for F&M in the sixth, relieving starter Sean Cosgriff.  Cosgriff worked through five full innings, giving up two runs on five hits while striking out three. Guerra punched out three batters in three innings, surrendering two runs on two hits. Alex Vescera (1-1) suffered the loss in relief in the ninth for the Diplomats.

Vescera and Mezansky paced F&M at the plate with three hits apiece to go along with a run scored, while Shields tallied two hits, two RBIs and touched home once. Gillette also posted a pair of hits and a run scored in the defeat.

Lindsay led Misericordia with a 3-for-3 performance with two RBIs and three runs scored, while Durling notched two hits and a game-high three RBIs.

The Cougars will meet the loser of Thursday's winner's bracket contest between Kean and Alvernia on Friday.

The loss brings to a close one of the most memorable seasons in F&M history. The Diplomats captured the program's first CC title since 2006 and fourth overall, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in school history.