Behind one of the most prolific offenses in program history and a pitching staff with a penchant for strikeouts, the 2018 Franklin & Marshall baseball team met its goal of returning to the Centennial Conference (CC) Postseason for the first time since 2015.
The Diplomats fought hard in the Tournament and survived an elimination game on day two of the Playoffs with a 9-1 triumph over Muhlenberg on May 5 behind a stellar, complete-game pitching performance from right-handed starter Andrew Mascis '18. However, despite a ninth-inning rally that saw F&M score three times to cut into an eight-run deficit, the Diplomats' season drew to a close in the second game of the afternoon with a 10-5 loss to Johns Hopkins.
Overall, F&M capped off 2018 with a 19-18-2, 10-7-1 CC record, marking the third winning season in the last four years. The Diplomats opened Centennial action in resounding fashion, sweeping a road doubleheader against Washington on May 31 with wins of 5-4 (10 innings) and 23-9.
Remaining in the thick of the playoff race throughout the year, F&M sealed its bid on the final Saturday of the regular season with a resilient 5-4 win over Muhlenberg in the first game of a home doubleheader at Caplan. Ahead by one run in the ninth inning, the Diplomats appeared to be in trouble when the Mules loaded the bases with no outs. However, two straight groundouts saw the lead runners retired at home before a swinging strikeout retired the side.
F&M's 2018 offense was one of the most productive in program history as the team's 264 runs scored placed 10th, their 412 hits were good for eighth, and the team's .299 batting average was the highest since 2011.
Extra-base hits were commonplace for the Diplomats as F&M tallied the second-most doubles (91), sixth-most triples (12) and 10th-most home runs (13). Twice the Diplomats plated more than 20 runs in a Conference game, including a season-high 26 against Ursinus on April 13.
The pitching staff also made an appearance in the record book by averaging the second-highest strikeouts per nine inning total at 7.84 and notching the most strikeouts in program history with 295.
Dan Marano '19 proved to be one of the Conference's most-dangerous hitters on his way to becoming F&M's first CC Player of the Year honoree since 2006. Also being named to both the ABCA/Rawlings and D3basbeall.com Mid-Atlantic All-Region Third Teams, he led all Centennial batters with a .411 average after recording the third-most single-season hits in F&M history with 62. The first baseman registered multiple hits in 16 contests and tied a CC single-game record with a 6-for-6 effort against Drew on April 19th.
He was joined on the All-CC First Team by offensive teammate Kengo Kawahara '18, as the Diplomats' dynamic leadoff hitter earned the first honor of his career. Starting pitcher's Mascis (Second Team) and Jack Buckley '20 (Honorable Mention) garnered recognition as well after anchoring the team's starting rotation.