LANCASTER, Pa. – Franklin & Marshall is set to start its 2014 season by participating in the Guilford College Tournament this weekend in Greensboro, N.C. The Diplomats open up against the host school on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. before taking on Case Western Reserve on Sunday at 11:00 a.m. F&M is seeking its second-consecutive Centennial Conference (CC) Championship after capturing its fourth overall last season.
To watch the season preview video for the 2014 F&M baseball team, click here.
Returning from last year's championship squad are six regulars from the lineup, including the entire starting outfield, as well as three members of the rotation that combined for 28 of the team's starts. The Diplomats posted a 23-21 record on the year, catching fire in the CC Tournament to become the first four seed to win the championship.
With the win, F&M advanced to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2006, eventually falling in heartbreaking fashion with a 7-5 loss to Misericordia on May 16, at PNC Field.
Returning to the Field
Rob Anderson, CF, Sr.
Avery Attinson, RF, Sr.
Matt Mezansky, 3B, So.
Will Benenson, LF, Sr.
Joe Gallitto, DH, Sr.
Pat Andrews, C, Sr.
Returning to the Rotation
Sean Cosgriff , LHP, Jr.
Alex Guerra, RHP, Sr.
Paul Giulio, RHP, Jr.
Returning to the Pen
Chris Mathewson, LHP, Jr.
Andrew Green, RHP, Jr.
Gareth Fancher, RHP, So.
One of the team's strengths this year is a talented veteran outfield that is expected to make up the heart of the lineup. Attinson hit .301 last season, while placing fifth on the team in RBIs with 25, while Benenson knocked in 26 runners and was third on the team in doubles with 13. Reigning CC Rookie of the Year Matt Mezansky returns to man the hot corner after his breakout freshman campaign resulted in a .338 batting average with 35 RBIs., 23 runs, 11 doubles and a .477 slugging percentage.
The pitching rotation will feature a good mix of returning upperclassmen with experience on the mound as well as a very young, but talented, freshmen class that is expected to offer major contributions. Cosgriff started 11 contests last season while combining for a 3.07 ERA in 73.1 innings of work, while Guerra compiled a 3.21 ERA over a span of nine starts and 53.1 innings.
Mathewson and Green look to lead the bullpen after appearing in 18 and 15 games respectively from a year ago. Mathewson allowed only 10 hits in 31.1 innings while putting together a 3.16 ERA. Green struck out 10 batters in 20 innings , while surrendering a mere three walks.
Freshmen to Watch
Cory Hecht, Casey Bulik and Reed Williams are expected to see time in the Diplomats' infield, while Sam Ackerman, Will Hofmann and Eric Bateman will battle for a spot in the starting rotation and make key contributions to the bullpen.
Leading the Way
Ryan Horning enters his first season at the helm after being named the program's 47th head coach back in June. He spent the previous five seasons as the team's assistant coach, with the Diplomats posting a record of 101-95-2 during that span.
A 2004 graduate of St. Lawrence University, Horning joined the staff at F&M in 2009 after coaching stints at Cornell University, St. John Fisher College and Longwood University. After one year at Division I Longwood, he served as an assistant at St. John Fisher, where he helped guide the Cardinals to their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2007. From there, Horning moved back to the Division I level to Cornell for one year.
The Road Ahead
The road back to the NCAA Tournament will be a difficult one with a pair of preseason top 25 teams on the schedule as well as the always-challenging CC slate ahead. No. 10 Cortland State and No. 22 Rowan begin the season ranked while four additional team's on the Diplomats non-conference schedule have received votes in the preseason ranking.
CC play opens at home against McDaniel on Saturday, March 29, with a double-header beginning at 12:30 p.m., while the CC Tournament is scheduled to take kick off on Thursday, May 1.
Follow Along (Social Media)
All of your favorite Diplomat athletic teams are available on social media. Follow them on Twitter, like them on Facebook and subscribe to the Diplomats Youtube page for frequent highlight videos of games throughout the season.