LANCASTER, Pa. – Casey Bulik's single in the bottom of the ninth inning sent Brian Erb home from second and capped off a thrilling come-from-behind 4-3 win over McDaniel on Thursday afternoon at Caplan Field in the opening contest of the Centennial Conference (CC) Playoffs. The walk-off hit improved the Diplomats' record to 26-10 on the year, while the Green Terror fell to 18-13.
F&M will face off against Haverford, who downed Johns Hopkins by an 11-4 tally, in Baltimore on Saturday around noon with the winner advancing into the CC Final. McDaniel takes on Johns Hopkins at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, with the loser being eliminated from the conference tournament.
Trailing by a 3-0 score heading into the eighth, the Diplomats' offense began to show life when back-to-back walks opened the frame with runners on first and second, chasing starter Zach Kronick from the game. Following a fly out to left field, David Iacobucci singled to load the bases. Mike Smeriglio stepped to the dish and laced a shot to left, clearing the bases and advancing to second when McDaniel's outfielder misplayed the ball to tie the game at 3-3.
Reliever Chris Mathewson entered in the ninth and surrendered a leadoff Green Terror single, but from there, the veteran retired the side in order to end the threat. Erb led off the ninth with a single of his own, before a perfectly-executed sacrifice bunt from shortstop Brett Poniros advanced him to second with just one out on the board. Bulik stepped into the box and sent a shot to center that easily sent Erb across the plate for the winning run.
It was all McDaniel early on as the Green Terror scored a pair of runs off four hits in the fourth and tacked on with a sacrifice fly RBI in the fifth for the 3-0 advantage, before the Diplomats stormed back in the eighth.
Iacobucci, Smeriglio and Poniros each notched a pair of F&M's eight hits on the day. McDaniel combined for nine hits with four of its players registering 2-for-4 lines at the plate. Each team stranded six base runners, while the Diplomats drew four walks.
Mathewson (1-0) earned the win with his scoreless ninth frame, while reliever David Pisauro (4-4) was dealt the loss after allowing one earned off four hits. Alex Guerra started for F&M and had the no decision after tossing 6 1/3 innings, allowing three earned off eight hits and striking out five. Kronick was solid for the Green Terror, allowing two earned in 7 1/3 innings and striking out five.
Additional information for this weekend's tournament, hosted by Johns Hopkins, can be found at the postseason home page, found here.