By Jamie Belfer || Layout Assistant
F&M Baseball travelled to Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia for their first two games of the season on Saturday, February 23. Although Hampden-Sydney already had three games under their belt (2-1), the Diplomats were unfazed and fearless as they stepped onto the field.
In the top of the first inning of the first game, sophomore J.J Freeman stroked a single to left center off of the Tigers’ starting pitcher Chase Mayberry. Senior Dan Marano got on base due to an error by the pitcher, moving Freeman to third. However, the Diplomats failed to capitalize on this opportunity and went into the bottom of the first with no runs.
The Diplomats got off to a rocky start, giving up two runs to the Tigers. The Diplomats’ starting pitcher, Jonathan Cole, got the leadoff batter to ground out to third for the first out of the game. The two-batter, senior Blake Hartman, started a rally by singling to center field. Junior Andrew Kasiski then smashed a long double to left, scoring Hartman. Senior Tyler Blevins followed with a gap shot to right center field, which allowed Kasiski to score, putting the Tigers up 2-0.
Both teams were unable to score in the second inning. The Diplomats rallied in the third inning to push one run across. Freeman started the inning off with his second hit of the game, a single to right field. Pinch hitter Kyle Ebert grounded into a double play. However, F&M forged a two-out rally starting with Marano’s double to left field. Sophomore Don DiLoreto singled to left, scoring Marano for the first Diplomat run. Cole shut down the Tigers in a 1,2,3 inning in the bottom of the third.
The bats went quiet for both teams in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings. In the top of the seventh, Freeman reached first on an error by the second basemen. Ebert moved Freeman to third with a single to center. Freeman scored the second run for the Diplomats on a wild pitch.
After tying the game up, Coach Ryan Horning replaced Cole with first-year Charlie Wright in the bottom of the seventh to finish the game for the Diplomats. Cole had a strong first outing with six strikeouts, one walk, five hits, and two earned runs. Coach Jeff Kinne for the Tigers replaced Mayberry with junior Cameron Meyers in the eighth inning.
The game was still tied 2-2 going into the bottom of the ninth. In the top of the ninth, senior Danny Blugis doubled to left, giving the Diplomats a chance to score. Although the next two batters grounded out, Blugis was able to advance to third. Freeman had the game-winning hit, a bomb to left center field, driving in Blugis to put the Diplomats up 3-2.
With their four, five, and six batters coming up, the Tigers hoped their power hitters would start a rally in the bottom of the ninth. However, the first two batters grounded out to shortstop and second base. The last batter singled to left field, but was thrown out at second base, trying to stretch his single into a double.
With a strong pitching performances, solid defense, and timely hitting by the Diplomats, F&M was able to capture their first victory of the season.
The Diplomats’ bats came alive in the second game as they defeated the Tigers 10-4 in an offensive slug-fest. This game was Coach Horning’s 100th career victory for the Diplomats. Franklin & Marshall will play their next two games against Gallaudet University in Washington D.C on Saturday, March 2 and Shenandoah University in Virginia on Sunday, March 3.
First-year Jamie Belfer is a Layout Assistant. Her email is email@example.com.