ALLENTOWN, Pa. – Franklin & Marshall's baseball team fell to Muhlenberg by a 5-2 score in game one, before earning the Centennial Conference (CC) split with a 6-3 victory in the nightcap on Sunday afternoon. The Diplomats' record moved to 16-7, 5-4 CC, while the Mules now sit at 9-12, 4-5 CC.
In game one, Muhlenberg grabbed the early 2-0 lead with a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the first, scoring runners from second and third. Following another single to load the bases with no outs, starting pitcher Alex Guerra limited the damage by retiring the next three batters in order, to escape the inning without surrendering any additional runs.
In the bottom of the third, the Mules padded their lead, opening with a triple before plating another run with an RBI single through the left side for the 3-0 advantage. F&M answered in the fourth, when David Iacobucci led off with a double to center, before a groundout to the first base side moved him over to third with one out. Christopher Vincent followed with a groundout to second, scoring Iacobucci and cutting the deficit to two.
However, Muhlenberg came out firing in the bottom of the frame, recording a leadoff double of its own, followed by an RBI single to right center to once again push the lead to three at 4-1. An Iacobucci sacrifice fly to right field in the sixth scored Brett Poniros from third and made it a two-run game. In the bottom of the eighth, the Mules loaded the bases with one out and added to their lead with a fielder's choice RBI, before sitting down the Diplomats in order to close out the contest in the ninth.
Guerra (3-1) suffered his first loss of the season after tossing 3 2/3 innings and allowing four earned off nine hits. David Anderson (2-2) earned the win after seven innings of work, allowing one earned off five hits and striking out three. Phillip Balesca picked up his third save of the season with a flawless frame on the mound.
Poniros paced the offense from the leadoff spot, going 2-for-4 with one run scored. First baseman Nick Kennedy led the Mules with a perfect 3-for-3 line, while three Muhlenberg batters notched a pair of hits as the team combined for 12.
In the nightcap, F&M broke a 1-1 tie with a four-run seventh inning. Zachary Roberson pinch-hit with the bases loaded and delivered an RBI single to short, plating Matt Mezansky, before a wild pitch later in the frame scored Reed Williams from third. Poniros followed with an RBI sacrifice fly to right field, before Luke Seib singled up the middle, sending Roberson across the plate and wrapping up the scoring in the inning.
Muhlenberg cut it to three in the seventh with a one-out RBI single to left center by Michael Giordano, however Williams answered with an RBI single of his own in the eighth, plating Iacobucci and adding a clutch insurance run to the board for the Diplomats.
After a one-out homer from the Mules in the bottom of the frame made it a three-score contest, a pair of walks in the ninth brought the tying run to the plate, before a force out at second with two outs ended the contest and handed F&M the split.
Freshman Mike Androconis (3-2) picked up the victory, allowing just two earned and striking out three in seven innings of work. Andrew Mascis entered out of the bullpen in the ninth to earn his third save of the season. Timmy Pilrun (1-2) was charged the loss, surrendering one earned off six hits in six innings.
Mezansky went 2-for-4 with one run scored, while Seib provided a 2-for-3 effort with one run scored, one run batted in and a stolen base as F&M totaled 10 hits and stranded eight in the contest. Jimmy Cody and Brett Rosen paced the Mules' attack with 2-for-4 lines as Muhlenberg collected nine hits and left seven on base.
The Diplomats return to competition tomorrow, hosting Ursinus at Caplan Field for a 4:00 p.m. showdown.