MOOSIC, Pa. – Franklin & Marshall fell to No. 11 Keystone 8-0 in the opening round of the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional on Wednesday night at PNC Field. The seventh-seeded Diplomats slide to 23-20 on the year with the loss, while the second-seeded Giants improve to 34-8.
F&M will now face off against third-seeded Misericordia, a 4-0 loser to sixth-seeded Ramapo, in a loser's bracket elimination game tomorrow at 1:15 p.m.
The contest was neck-and-neck until the sixth inning as the Giants held a slight 1-0 edge entering the bottom of the sixth, scoring their initial run in the bottom of the third on a wild pitch that allowed Miguel Castano to race home from third base.
F&M had opportunities to tie the game in the fourth, fifth, and sixth frames as it put a runner in scoring position in each inning, but was unable to piece together enough timely hitting to deadlock the contest.
Aaron Gillette opened the fourth with a walk and reached third on a pair of wild pitches, but Keystone starter Rob Rogers registered three straight outs, including two strikeouts, to escape the inning unscathed.
In the fifth, Pat Andrews ripped a one-out single into the right-center gap and advanced to second on a fielding error by Keystone's center fielder, but Rogers came up with key outs when he needed them to keep the Giants up 1-0. Alex Vescera's two-out double in the top of the sixth that landed just fair down the right field line placed yet another Diplomat in scoring position, but Rogers once again delivered by forcing an inning-ending groundout.
The Giants then put together a four-hit, four-run bottom of the sixth to jump out to a 5-0 edge. Ricky Riscica tallied a high-hopping two-RBI single through the right side, Rick McLaughlin laid down a well-placed sacrifice bunt down the first base line that resulted in an RBI, and Lymbel Guerrero doubled to left center to push the advantage to five.
Keystone tacked on three more scores in the eighth on RBI hits from Gabriel Molina, Riscica, Mclaughlin for the final 8-0 margin.
Brendan DeMond (9-3) suffered the loss on the mound for F&M, tallying seven strikeouts while walking two in seven innings.
Rogers (9-2) was impressive in his seven innings of work, fanning seven batters, walking two and surrendering just three hits. Relievers Michael Meszoros and Felix Lopez posted shutout eighth and ninth frames, respectively, to close out the win for the Giants.
Riscica paced the Giants with a 2-for-4 performance with three RBIs and two runs scored. McLaughlin added two RBIs, while Molina went 2-for-4, scored twice and notched one RBI.