LANCASTER, Pa. – With the bases juiced and one out in the bottom of the 11th of a tied contest, Jimmy Whelan stepped into the box for his first at-bat of the afternoon. The high-pressure situation did little to deter the freshman second baseman as Whelan came through with a walk-off walk, delivering Franklin & Marshall's baseball team a thrilling 4-3 victory in extra innings against Wilkes on Tuesday at Caplan Field.
The non-conference win came in the Diplomats' opening home game of the season and improved their record to 9-3 on the year, while the Colonels dropped to 3-6 with the heartbreaking defeat.
F&M first got on the board in the bottom of the second when a Luke Seib RBI bunt single scored Brian Erb from third for the 1-0 advantage. The Diplomats' offense tacked on in the fourth, adding a pair to the scoreboard when Erb followed a David Iacobucci leadoff double to right center with an RBI triple to right field, pushing the lead to two. Tyler Daley followed with a bunt single to score Erb and make it a 3-0 ballgame for the Diplomats.
The Colonels answered quickly, cutting the deficit down to two in the top of the fifth with a one-out RBI single up the middle, scoring a runner from third. Wilkes kept fighting in the seventh, tying the game at 3-3 with an RBI double down the left-field line and a sacrifice fly to center.
F&M's bullpen went into shutdown mode from there, tossing five scoreless innings, including the final two from Mack Glavin (2-0), to set up the 11th inning heroics. Daley led off the frame with a single to the third base side, before a Casey Bulik bunt single, followed by a throwing error from Wilkes' pitcher put runners on the corners with just one out. Brett Poniros was intentionally walked to load the bases, before Whelan stepped to the dish and drew the game-inning walk.
Eric Bateman got the start and tossed six innings, allowing three earned off six hits, while striking out three. Chris Mathewson and Andrew Mascis followed in relief and combined for three innings and a pair of strikeouts. Glavin entered in the 10th and was dominant, striking out a pair of batters over two frames for his second win on the early season. The Colonels' reliever Matt Kaster (0-2) was charged with the loss, allowing one run and walking four in the final two frames.
Daley tallied three of F&M's 11 hits on the game with a 3-for-5 line at the plate, to go along with one run scored and one batted in. Erb went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and one RBI, while reigning CC Player of the Week Dan Marano went 2-for-5 as the designated hitter.
James Brown paced the Wilkes' offense, tallying two of the Colonels' six hits in the contest, producing a 2-for-4 line with a pair of runs scored.
The Diplomats return to the field on Thursday, when F&M hosts Elizabethtown for a 3:30 p.m. tilt.