AUBURNDALE, Fla. – Franklin & Marshall's baseball team held off a late Fredonia rally for an 8-4 victory, before falling just short with a rally of its own in the nightcap, earning a split against the Blue Devils with a 3-1 loss on Saturday afternoon at the Russmatt Central Florida Invitational. The Diplomats' record moved to 7-3 with the pair of decisions, while Fredonia now sits at 5-8.
In game one, Brett Poniros opened the bottom of the first with a double through the left side, before Matt Mezansky scored the junior shortstop later in the frame with a grounder to short, for the 1-0 advantage.
The Blue Devils answered quickly with a two-RBI single up the middle in the top of the second, before a Luke Seib sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning, knotted the game at 2-2.
F&M's offense hit its stride in the third when the Diplomats tallied three runs off three hits, including an RBI double from Brian Erb and an RBI single from Christopher Vincent, to take the 5-2 edge. Matt Mezansky's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fourth pushed the lead to four, before F&M tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the sixth, to make it an 8-4 game heading into the final frame.
Fredonia battled in the seventh, pulling within four off a two-run Ricky Mendiola homer, however reliever Paul Giulio retired the side with a pair of strikeouts to preserve the win.
Hits were even at 7-7, with Poniros pacing the Diplomats' attack with a 2-for-4 effort from the leadoff spot, to go along with a pair of runs. Mezansky went 1-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored, while four other F&M batters recorded a hit.
Sean Cosgriff (2-0) started on the mound and twirled five innings, allowing two earned and striking out six. Fredonia's Joe Korszun (1-1) was dealt the loss after allowing four earned off six hits in four innings on the mound.
Game two was a pitcher's duel throughout, however the Diplomats' offensive managed to get on the board early. Dan Marano led off the top of the second with a single, before advancing to second with a groundout by Erb. David Iacobucci stepped to the plate and laced a single to advance Erb to third, before getting caught stealing, but allowing Marano to advance home on the play for the 1-0 lead.
The one-run advantage held until the fourth, when the Blue Devils jumped out in front with a three-run inning off a trio of hits to make it a 3-1 game. Still trailing by two and down to its last set of outs in the seventh, F&M appeared to rally when Iacobucci led off the frame with a single. Seib followed later in the inning with a double that put runners on second and third with just one out, however the Diplomats went down swinging in their next two at-bats to end the threat.
F&M held the advantage on hits at 8-5, while the Diplomats stranded six batters compared to just two from Fredonia. Mezansky, Seib and Iacobucci each tallied a pair of hits to pace the offense.
Starting pitcher Mike Androconis (1-1) suffered the loss despite a solid performance on the afternoon, allowing three earned off just five hits in five innings of work. Carl Wolf (2-1) picked up the win for the Blue Devils, allowing one earned over a span of four innings, while Bailey Gauthier tossed three innings for the save.
The Diplomats close out their spring break trip tomorrow by facing off against Trinity (Conn.) at 10:00 a.m. in Winter Haven.