BALTIMORE, Md. – Franklin & Marshall's baseball team fell short of its fifth Centennial Conference (CC) Championship on Sunday, dropping a pair of contests to Johns Hopkins, who claimed its first title since 2011. The Diplomats (27-12) lost 9-4 in the first game of the afternoon, missing out on a chance to clinch the title, as the Blue Jays (27-10-1) secured the championship with an 20-1 tally in the game seven nightcap.
With the victory, Hopkins won its 13th conference title and automatically qualifies for the NCAA Tournament. Ranked at No. 8 in the Mid-Atlantic, F&M will hope for an at-large bid when the field is announced for the regionals, which run from May 13-16.
In game one, Johns Hopkins struck early with three runs off a pair of hits and a trio of walks in the top of the first. Back-to-back walks opened the frame, before a two-RBI double found the gap in left center. Following a single and a walk to load the bases, a fielder's choice groundout sent the third run of the frame across the plate. However, F&M limited the damage with an inning-ending double play in the next at-bat.
The Diplomats got one back in the bottom of the inning as third baseman Matt Mezansky opened with a walk, before advancing to second on a wild pitch. Mezansky swiped third and eventually advanced all the way home when Dan Marano grounded out to third, making it a 3-1 game.
In the third, Johns Hopkins threatened to add to the lead after a pair of singles, followed by a wild pitch put runners at second and third with two outs on the board. Second baseman Raul Shaw stepped to the plate and hit the ball hard to third, but F&M's Mezansky took a few steps to his left, corralled the grounder and made a strong throw to first to retire the side.
A deep homer to left field from the Blue Jays in the top of the fourth made it a 4-1 score. The Diplomats had a prime opportunity to respond in the bottom of the inning when a leadoff double from David Iacobucci, followed by a single to left field by Luke Seib, put runners on first and third with one out. However, Hopkins forced a clutch double play in the next at-bat to put an end to the inning.
Three singles got another run across the plate for the Blue Jays in the top of the fifth, extending the advantage to four. With a pair of runners on base and two outs on the board, a deep fly ball appeared destined for the bushes past the left field wall, however Iacobucci hauled in the ball on the warning track to once again limit the damage. Hopkins continued to tack on runs, tallying a pair in the seventh off an RBI double and a sacrifice fly to left, before adding another pair in the eighth for the 9-1 advantage.
Seib cut it to five in the ninth with a three-run homer to left center, making it 9-4, but the Blue Jays hung on to force game seven of the playoffs.
Mack Glavin (5-2) was dealt the loss, allowing five earned off 10 hits in five innings on the mound. Hopkins' Jacob Enterlin (6-3) picked up the win, tossing 8 1/3 innings, allowing three earned off five hits and striking out three. Seib paced the offense for F&M with a 3-for-4 effort to go along with three RBIs and a run scored. The Blue Jays combined for 17 hits and were led by catcher Ryan Orgielewicz with a 3-for-4 line, two runs scored and three batted in.
Hopkins' offense picked up right where it left off in the title game, jumping out to an early 3-0 lead with four hits, including a two-RBI double to right center and a two-out RBI single to center in the frame, chasing starter Alex Guerra (5-2) from the contest.
A huge four-run inning off five hits in the second broke the game wide open as Hopkins batted around in the order and made it an 8-0 game. F&M managed to get one back in the third, taking advantage of a two-out throwing error from the Blue Jays' second baseman that allowed Mezansky to score from third, cutting the deficit to seven.
The game got away from the Diplomats at that point, as Hopkins registered another four runs off two hits in the third, followed by three runs off three hits in the sixth to go ahead 15-1. Another five runs off five hits in the seventh brought the score to 20-1.
Guerra was dealt the loss, allowing three earned off four hits in 2/3 innings pitched. Jacob Enterlin (6-3) earned the championship-clinching victory, throwing six scoreless innings, surrendering four hits and striking out three.
Five F&M batters each recorded one of the Diplomats' five hits. Hopkins notched 20 hits in the contest and was led by third baseman Mike Smith who went 3-for-4 with one run scored and three batted in.
The NCAA bracket is set to be released on Sunday, May 10 at midnight.