HAVERFORD, Pa. – Franklin & Marshall's baseball team got the upper hand in a back-and-forth contest on Friday afternoon, downing Haverford by a 9-6 score in Centennial Conference (CC) action. The Diplomats improved to 23-10, 11-5 CC with the win, while the Fords playoff hopes were crushed, falling to 11-18, 7-9 CC.
Just two CC games remain on F&M's regular-season schedule. With today's clutch win, the Diplomats are now two games ahead of three teams that stand in a three-way tie for third place at 9-7 in conference play. A chance to host next weekend's four-team tournament is still up for grabs, as Hopkins holds just a half-game lead in first place at 11-4-1.
Haverford answered first with a sacrifice fly RBI after a leadoff double that put F&M in an early 1-0 hole after the first frame. The Diplomats' offense responded in the next inning when Mike Smeriglio led off with a double to center field, before Matt Mezansky laid down a bunt single and stole second to place runners on second and third without any outs on the scoreboard.
Brian Erb grounded out to short to send Smeriglio across the plate, before a Christopher Vincent RBI double down the left field line plated Mezansky and gave F&M the 2-1 lead. A solo homer from the Fords' Mike Schmandt in the bottom of the fourth tied it at 2-2, however a David Iacobucci squeeze bunt with runners on first and third in the fifth once again handed the advantage to the Diplomats.
F&M padded the lead to 6-2 in the top of the sixth with three runs off a pair of errors and a two-RBI double down the left field line from Luke Seib. Haverford continued to score runs off the long ball, plating a pair with a homer in the bottom of the inning to pull within two.
Once again, the Diplomats' offense had an answer when Dan Marano stepped to the dish with the bases load and registering a two-out, bases-clearing double to center field, making it 9-4. Schmandt's second homer of the game for Haverford in the bottom of the eighth plated two and made the score close once again. However, F&M hung on in the ninth, overcoming a leadoff single and securing the victory.
Freshman starter Mike Androconis (5-2) provided another quality start, going 6 2/3 innings, allowing three earned and striking out five. Mack Glavin tossed the final two frames, allowing one earned and striking out one. Casey Fox (1-5) was charged with the loss for Haverford, surrendering three earned off six hits in 5 2/3 frames on the mound.
The Diplomats strung together nine hits on the afternoon, led by a 2-for-4 effort from designated hitter Dan Marano to go along with three RBIs. Seib also went 2-for-4 in the two-hole, recording a pair of runs and RBIs. Vincent tallied two hits, along with two runs scored and one batted in.
The Fords notched 11 hits, three of which were home runs, and two doubles. Right fielder Schmandt went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, two homers and three RBIs.
F&M is set to celebrate senior day tomorrow at Caplan Field, when the Diplomats wrap up their regular season by welcoming Swarthmore for a doubleheader beginning at 12:30 p.m.