LANCASTER, Pa. – An eighth-inning balk broke a scoreless tie and capped off Franklin & Marshall's dramatic come-from-behind bid with a critical 6-5 victory over Dickinson in Centennial Conference (CC) competition on Friday at Caplan Field.
The Diplomats improved to 20-17-1, 8-7-1 CC while the Red Devils dipped to 20-18, 7-9 CC. Also with the win, F&M moved into a tie for the fourth and final CC Playoff spot with just two games remaining on the schedule.
Dickinson put the Diplomats in an early 5-0 hole with a wild opening inning that saw the Red Devils bat around their lineup with four hits, a walk and a pair of F&M errors.
Starter Andrew Mascis and the F&M defense settled in from there as the Diplomats' junior held Dickinson without a run throughout the remainder of the game.
Casey Bulik kick-started the comeback bid with a sacrifice fly RBI in the second inning that scored Kyle Ebert and brought the Diplomats within four. In the fourth, Cory Hecht laced a two-out triple to right center, and Bulik followed with a clutch two-run homer that cleared the left field fence and made it a 5-3 game.
The home run from Bulik was his second career shot, with both coming at home in the last seven days, as the senior infielder also went deep against McDaniel on Saturday.
F&M continued its timely hitting in the bottom of the fifth with a Danny Blugis leadoff single that was followed by a Kengo Kawahara RBI triple to left center to bring F&M within one. In the next frame, Tyler Daley followed with a RBI triple of his own, this time scoring Bulik from first, to tie the contest at 5-5.
Hecht opened the eighth with a double to left field before Bulik reached first on a sacrifice bunt that was mishandled by Dickinson's third baseman. Daley was intentionally walked to load the bases with no outs, but a fielder's choice out at home plate and a liner to third quickly tossed two outs on the board. The Red Devils nearly got out of the inning unscathed until a balk, called on Dickinson's reliever, allowed Reed Williams to cross home for the winning run.
Blugis took the mound in the ninth and struck out the side for his third save of the year. Mascis was dealt the no-decision after tossing 7 2/3 frames and now allowing an earned run while striking out six. Bobby Gaston (4-0) was credited the win with 1/3 innings of work.
Daley went 4-for-4 from the leadoff spot to notch his 100th career hit. Bulik was a perfect 2-for-2 with three runs scored and three batted in, while Hecht notched a pair of extra-base hits in a 2-for-4 effort. Williams tallied a 2-for-5 line, while centerfielder Stephen Sakowicz went 2-for-5 for Dickinson as F&M outhit the Red Devils by a 25-8 margin.
The Diplomats close out the regular season tomorrow on the road at Muhlenberg for a doubleheader that begins at 12:30 p.m.