WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – Franklin & Marshall's baseball team took a pair of games against Juniata on Sunday afternoon to open play at the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational in Winter Haven. The Diplomats (4-2) dominated the opening contest with a 13-1 (7 innings) score before Alex Guerra controlled the mound to lead the way in a 6-0 (7 innings) win over the Eagles (1-7) in the nightcap.
In game one, F&M's bats stormed out the gates with six hits and four runs in the top of the first that included two singles and a double in the frame. The Diplomats continued to tack on in the third with an RBI single from Pat Andrews and a two RBI double down the right field line from Brian Erb to pull ahead at 7-0.
F&M's potent offense continued with a pair of runs in the fourth, followed by four runs on three hits in the top of the fifth, to take a decisive 13-0 advantage. Juniata finally got on the board in the bottom of the sixth to make the score 13-1 but went down in order in the seventh en route to the final.
Will Benenson led the way with a 3-for-4 effort at the plate that included a pair of RBIs to go along with three runs scored. Matt Mezansky collected a 2-for-4 line at the plate with three RBIs and two runs scored. Joe Gallitto and Andrews also notched two hits on the game.
Paul Giulio (2-1) earned the win after pitching five innings of shutout ball while walking a pair and striking out three. His counterpart, Brad Mendellin (0-2) took the loss after allowing nine earned off 12 hits in 3-1 innings of work. The Diplomats outhit the Eagles 17-3.
In the second contest of the afternoon, Guerra (2-0) picked up the complete-game shutout after striking out eight and surrendering four hits in seven innings. Knotted up at 0-0 in the bottom of the third, Brett Poniros doubled to center to score Casey Bulik from third and hand F&M a 1-0 advantage.
The Diplomats added on in the fifth when a Rob Anderson single up the middle scored Bulik from second before Benenson followed later in the frame with a single of his own through the left side to score Poniros from third and make the score 3-0.
F&M put the game out of reach in the bottom of the sixth when a two RBI double from Bulik and an RBI sacrifice fly from Anderson pushed the advantage to 6-0.
Guerra followed by retiring the side in order in the seventh that included a pair of strikeouts to seal the win. Juniata's Chris Fulton (0-2) took the loss after allowing seven earned and giving up nine hits in six innings on the mound.
The Diplomats terrorized the base paths throughout the contest, picking up six steals that included a pair from both Veterano and Bulik.
Bulik went a perfect 3-for-3 from the plate to go along with three runs and two RBIs. Poniros and Gallitto also provided multi-hit efforts going 2-for-4 and 2-for-3 respectively.
F&M returns to action tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. against Cortland State in Auburndale, Fla.