MOOSIC, Pa. – The Franklin & Marshall baseball team is headed to the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional from May 15-19 at PNC Field, home of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders, the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees.
F&M earned the Centennial Conference's (CC) automatic bid into the NCAA postseason by winning the CC Tournament, marking the first time since 2006 and fourth time overall that the Diplomats have captured the CC crown.
The Diplomats (23-19) enter the double-elimination tournament as the No. 7 seed and will face off against second-seeded Keystone (33-8) in Wednesday's opening round at 7:45 p.m. For a full schedule of the regional contests, click here.
F&M and Keystone will meet for the third time in history on Wednesday, with the Diplomats holding a 2-0 edge in the series. The two sides last met in 2004, with F&M coming away with a 3-1 victory in Ft. Pierce, Fla.. The Giants earned an automatic bid to the NCAA's after securing their fifth straight Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSAC) title.
The winner of the eight-team regional bracket hosted by Misericordia University will advance to the NCAA College World Series in Appleton, Wisc. from May 24-28.
NCAA Regional Tournament Notes
CC Champions: F&M captured the fourth Centennial Conference title in school history (1995, 2005, 2006) with a remarkable run through the CC Tournament hosted by Johns Hopkins from May 3-5. The Diplomats defeated No. 6 Hopkins twice and Gettysburg once en route to the crown, including a 16-1 triumph over Hopkins in the decisive championship game. F&M became the first four seed in CC history to win the postseason tournament.
Back to the NCAA's: The Diplomats return to the NCAA Regional Tournament for the first time since 2006 and fourth time in program history. F&M's other NCAA appearances occured in 1995, 2005, and 2006.
Scouting the Field: F&M will compete against a deep and talented Mid-Atlantic Regional field as three of the eight teams are currently ranked in the national top-25 by d3baseball.com (No. 9 Kean, No. 11 Keystone, No. 14 Johns Hopkins), and four (including Ramapo) have been in the top-25 of the rankings for the majority of the year.
Aside from Johns Hopkins, F&M has yet to play any of the other teams in the regional this season. The Diplomats and Hopkins have met five times this year, with the Blue Jays holding a 3-2 series edge.
All-CC Performers: Four members of the F&M baseball team received All-Centennial Conference (CC) accolades. Alex Vescera and Aaron Gillette landed on the first team, Brendan DeMond earned second team honors, and Matt Mezansky claimed Rookie of the Year accolades.
Vescera and Gillette both earned First Team All-CC honors after leading the Diplomats from the middle infield positions. Vescera leads F&M in batting average (.360), hits (58), RBIs (44), is tied for second in doubles (13) and stolen bases (8), while also ranking third in runs scored (29). In CC play, the senior shortstop led the conference with a .432 batting average and ranked second in hits (32) and RBIs (22). He has also contributed on the mound, tying the single-season record for saves (6) with a 1.46 ERA in 12 1/3 innings of work.
Gillette has held down the leadoff spot for the entire year, providing a key spark at the top of the F&M lineup. The speedy senior second baseman broke the single-season mark for stolen bases (30) while batting .357 with 16 RBIs and a team-high 49 runs scored. Gillette cracked the top-10 in the CC in multiple categories in conference play, posting league-highs of 21 runs scored and 10 stolen bases while also ranking fifth in on-base percentage (.489), sixth in hits (29) and ninth in batting average (.397).
DeMond has been a consistent force on the mound for Diplomats, posting team bests of nine wins (9-2) and 71 strikeouts in 73.2 innings. His 2.08 ERA leads the team amongst starters and ranks fifth in the CC. DeMond was a huge factor in F&M's CC Championship run, becoming the first player in the conference history to record two wins in the CC Tournament. He defeated sixth-ranked Johns Hopkins twice, holding the Blue Jays to just one run in 14 innings, earning Tournament MVP honors for his efforts.
Mezansky was tabbed as the conference Rookie of the Year in the inaugural season of the award. The third baseman had a breakout freshman campaign, batting .331 with 36 RBIs, 23 runs, 11 doubles, and a .468 slugging percentage. He provided timely hitting to the middle of the batting order, proving his worth as one of the top young players in the conference.
Academic All-District: Aaron Gillette was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District 4 Baseball First Team. A Business, Organizations, and Society major with a minor in Mathematics, Gillette is a two-time member of the Centennial Conference (CC) Academic Honor Roll and has been a huge contributor for the Diplomats from the leadoff spot and second base.
2013 NCAA Division III Baseball Mid-Atlantic Regional
May 15-19, 2013 | PNC Field | Moosic, PA | Hosted by Misericordia University
1. Kean (34-10)
2. Keystone (33-8)
3. Misericordia (36-9)
4. Alvernia (33-9)
5. Johns Hopkins (36-8)
6. Ramapo (28-14-1)
7. Franklin & Marshall (23-19)
8. Penn State-Harrisburg (26-14)