LANCASTER, Pa. - A pair of crucial, late-inning insurance runs allowed Franklin & Marshall baseball to move one step closer to a Centennial Conference (CC) Playoff berth with a narrow 6-4 road win over Ursinus on Tuesday.
The Diplomats claimed their fourth-consecutive CC tilt, moving into sole possession of second place in the standings with a 23-12, 10-5 CC mark, while the Bears fell to 17-16, 7-8 CC.
With just three regular-season Centennial contests remaining, F&M holds a two-game edge over Muhlenberg who currently sits in fifth place with an 8-7 CC mark.
In the bottom of the first, the Diplomats faced an early 2-0 deficit when Ursinus plated a pair off two hits. However, starter Jack Buckley limited the damaged by forcing a double play with runners on first and second to end the frame.
F&M got its offense rolling in the top of the fourth as Kelsey Launi led off with a single to left center and advanced to second on a fielding error. After moving over to third off a flyout to center, Will Samuel notched an RBI groundout to short that a sent Launi home from third.
J.J. Freeman continued the power display in the fifth with his team-leading sixth home run of the season, a solo shot down the right-field line that increased the F&M advantage to two. The Bears' Alex Mumme responded with a solo homer of his own in the next frame to cut the deficit to 4-3, but Kann struck again in the top of the eighth with a two-RBI double that gave the Diplomats some breathing room at 6-3.
Mumme launched his second home run of the day in the bottom of the eighth to pull Ursinus within two. The Bears continued to threaten in the frame by placing runners on first and second off a pair of singles. However, with two outs on the board, reliever Ryan DeWalt forced a lineout to end the inning.
Blugis took the mound to close the ninth and was dominant, collecting his fourth save of the season with a one-two-three frame that was finished off with a pair of strikeouts.
Buckley improved to a 7-1 on the year with seven solid innings of work, surrendering three earned on just three hits and striking out two.
Kann led the offense with a 2-for-3 effort that including a run scored and four RBIs. Freeman went 2-for-4 with a walk from the leadoff spot while Blugis scored a pair of runs.
The Diplomats hit the road on Thursday to close out their 2019 non-conference slate against Scranton at 4:00 p.m.