F&M baseball begins season at Hampden-Sydney Tournament, takes Rutgers-Newark

BY MARK DOURMASHKIN ’14
Layout Assistant

The Diplomats begin this season looking to return to the Centennial Conference tournament after failing to qualify last year. The Dips have made the tournament three times during Adam Taylor’s five-year tenure as head coach. “Our goal this spring is the same as every year qualify for the Centennial playoffs and give ourselves an opportunity to reach the NCAA’s,” Taylor said.

The baseball team opened up their season this past weekend at the Hampden-Sydney Tournament. The Diplomats lost their season opener 13-3 to the host team, the Hampden-Sydney Tigers. The Tigers came out of the gate strong with eight runs in the bottom of the second. The second inning proved to be too much for the Diplomats to overcome, as they only scored three runs and were out-hit by the Tigers 15-7. Avery Attinson ’14, right fielder, led the Diplomats at the plate going 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Aaron Gillette ’13 also had a solid offensive day going 2-for-3 with one RBI and scored once. The starting pitcher for the day, Brendan DeMond ’13, took the loss for the Diplomats, lasting only 1.2 innings.

F&M was back in action on Saturday against Frostburg State. After suffering a ten-run defeat on Friday, the Diplomats looked poised to put up a better effort against Frostburg State on the second day of the Hampden-Sydney Tournament. F&M was leading the game 6-4 heading into the latter stages of the contest, but could not hold onto the lead as Frostburg St. came back to win 7-6 in 10 innings.

Franklin and Marshall looked as if they had their first victory in sight but failed to hold onto a two-run lead going into the seventh inning. The game was a back-and-forth affair that featured four lead changes. The Diplomats came up to the plate in the bottom of the first already trailing 2-0. They came out of the inning tied up at two points, thanks to a RBI double from Alex Vescera ’13 and a sacrifice fly from Will Benenson ’14. Heading into the bottom of the sixth, trailing 4-2, the Diplomats had to find ways to score some runs.

In both the third and fourth innings, F&M had stranded runners in scoring position. However in the bottom of the sixth the Diplomats finally delivered some runs with a four-run inning to take the lead 6-4. Matt Mezansky ’16, Josh Mendelson ’13, and Joe Galitto ’14 already reached base to start the inning and loaded the bases with one out. Menzansky scored on a fielder’s choice from Aaron Gillette ’13 and Alex Vescera ’13 added to the scoring by knocking in an RBI single to tie the game 4-4. With two outs in the inning, Benenson came up to the plate and delivered a clutch two-run triple to put F&M ahead of Frostburg State, 6-4.

The starting pitcher for the Diplomats, Alex Guerra ’14, pitched a quality start and kept F&M in the game. Pitching six innings and allowing four runs (three earned), Guerra was in line for the win, until things started to go bad for the Diplomats. Frostburg State cut the lead to one with an RBI single in the top of the seventh and eventually tied the game up at six with another RBI single in the top of the ninth. The game went into extra innings but did not last very long as Frostburg State scored in the top of the tenth and went on the defeat F&M 7-6.

The Diplomats were held scoreless the rest of the game after their four-run outburst in the bottom of the sixth. F&M was unable to answer Frostburg St. in the bottom of the ninth and tenth innings. Overall F&M showed resilience after a 10-run defeat the day before. Benenson led the Diplomats with three RBIs, including the big two-run double that put F&M in a position to win the game. The number one and two hitters in the Diplomats lineup, Gillette and Vescera combined to produce four of the ten hits and four of the six runs F&M had. Mezansky also added two hits and Andrew Green ’15 did a solid job coming out of the bullpen pitching a one scoreless inning with zero hits allowed and one strikeout.

F&M finished up the Hampden-Sydney tournament on Sunday with an 11-9 victory over Rutgers-Newark. The Diplomats will look to build on their first victory as their season gets underway.

Questions? Email Mark at mdourmas@fandm.edu.

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