Baseball is back as F&M wins two

F&M College Lancaster, PA:

On a beautiful afternoon, the F&M Diplomats swept a double header from Johns Hopkins 2-1 and 7-0.

Franklin & Marshall scored a come-from-behind victory in the first game before cruising in the second in a doubleheader takedown of No. 10 Johns Hopkins on Sunday afternoon in Centennial Conference (CC) action. The Diplomats improved to 2-0, 2-0 CC following the 2-1 and 7-0 victories, while the Blue Jays dropped to 0-2, 0-2 CC.

Game 1: F&M 2, Johns Hopkins 1

The Blue Jays struck first, as a leadoff walk came all the way around to put a run on the board in the first. Johns Hopkins played station-to-station baseball, turning a sequence of walk-single-single into a 1-0 lead.

Starting pitcher Matt Devlin settled down after the opening stanza, allowing just two more hits the rest of the way in what turned into an eight inning, four hit, nine strikeout gem. Devlin was at his best early on, striking out four consecutive batters between the second and third innings.

Despite putting the leadoff batter on first base in the six out of seven innings, F&M was stymied until the eighth, when they put together a string of solid contact. J.J. Freeman led off the inning with a single. Following a fly out and a Dan Baroff walk, Don DiLoreto knotted the game at 1-1 following a single of his own, scoring Freeman. A pitching change did little to break the Diplomat hitting, as Will Samuel punched a single back up the middle, scoring pinch runner Drew Butera.

Stephen Turzai shut the door in the top of the 9th for his first save of the year.

In all, seven Diplomats combined for seven hits, drawing three walks from Blue Jay pitching.

Game 2: F&M 7, Johns Hopkins 0

The Diplomats put two on the board in the second inning, loading the bases with nobody out after a Will Samuel double, a Tommy Denlinger walk, and a Drew Butera single. After two straight strikeouts, F&M turned over the lineup to J.J. Freeman, who singled through the left side to score two for a 2-0 lead.

F&M tacked on four more in the bottom half of the fifth as Tommy Denlinger and Drew Butera hit back-to-back RBI singles for a 4-0 edge. After the Diplomats loaded the bases again, Matt Gluck slapped a single to score two more and give F&M a 6-0 advantage.

Jakob Hoffman added an exclamation point in the seventh, knocking one over the fence in his first career at-bat for a 7-0 lead.

Kyle Roche (1-0) twirled a solid six innings, allowing only two hits while punching out nine. Greg Nieskens and Thomas McLaughlin combined for three innings to complete the shutout.

Drew Butera paced the lineup with a 2-for-4 effort, knocking in one and scoring once. Steven Rizzo also finished with a two-hit afternoon after being inserted mid-way through.

Up Next

F&M continues their abbreviated conference-only schedule on Saturday, March 27th with a doubleheader against Ursinus. Opening pitches are slated for 12:00pm and 3:00pm.

2021 Preview:

Expectations are once again high for a Franklin & Marshall baseball team that welcomes back a senior-laden lineup and promising pitching staff for 2021.

The Diplomats went 4-4 in a COVID-19-shortened 2020 campaign that wrapped up early on March 10th. Before the season abruptly ended, F&M was on a three-game winning streak that saw them outscore opponents 23-9.

The year prior, F&M earned its second straight berth in the Centennial Conference (CC) Tournament, going 1-2 as the No. 2 seed. The Diplomats won the fifth-most games in their 131-year history with a 27-15 overall record and produced the program’s first All-American since 1995.

F&M will need to account for the loss of a handful of key seniors to graduation, including 2020 Preseason All-America First Team selection Jonathan Cole. Center fielder Kevin Lammers, second baseman Justin Cavegn, third baseman Max Schwartz, and catcher Kyle Ebert also leave holes in the lineup for the Diplomats.

Starting pitcher Jonathan Cole ’20 was living up to the preseason hype last season, starting 3 games and twirling a 1.89 ERA, averaging over a strikeout an inning. Cole ended his Diplomat career third in games started (31), fifth in strikeouts (181), seventh in innings pitched (194.1), eighth in strikeout per nine innings (8.38), ninth in ERA (2.64), tied for ninth in wins (15). Cole was named the CC Pitcher of the Year in 2019 and earned the program’s first All-America nod since 1995.

A mix of 8 new first-year players will be welcomed into the fold, with several expected to vie for significant playing time.

Top Returners (2019 Stats, unless otherwise noted)

Don DiLoreto | Sr. | DH | .313, 1 HR, 10 2Bs, 2 3Bs, 22 RBIs
J.J. Freeman | Sr. | SS | .298, 6 HRs, 4 3Bs, 7 2Bs, 32 RBIs, 15 SBs
Dan Baroff | Sr. | C | .458, 11 H, 2 RBI (2020)
Matthew Kann | Sr. | RF | .333 OBP, 3 HRs, 4 2Bs, 14 RBI
Will Samuel | Jr. | 1B | .283, 7 2Bs, 3 3Bs, 26 RBIs, 11 SBs
Tommy Denlinger | So. | IF | .500, 1 2Bs, 6 RBIs, 2 SBs (2020)

Six starters return to add firepower to a promising lineup. Returning is reigning All-CC members designated hitter Don DiLoreto (2019 Second Team) and shortstop J.J. Freeman (2019 Honorable Mention). Matthew Kann and Tommy Denlinger had impressive stints in last year’s shortened season, and will look to continue that stretch in this season.

DiLoreto led the Diplomats in walks (24) and doubles (10) while his 25 runs scored and 22 RBIs, each ranked fourth. Freeman was one of F&M’s top run producers, leading the team in home runs (6), triples (4), and runs scored (49).

Top Returners (Starting Pitchers) (2019 Stats, unless otherwise noted)

Matt Devlin | Sr. | LHP | 4-2, 3.76 ERA, 55 IP, 46 Ks, 21 BBs
Kyle Roche | Jr. | RHP | 0-2, 6.41 ERA, 26 IP, 25 Ks, 9 BBs

Top Returners (Bullpen) (2019 Stats, unless otherwise noted)

Don DiLoreto | Sr. | RHP | 3-2, 4.34 ERA, 9 APPs, 24 Ks, 17 BBs

Matt Devlin will likely take the bump as the de facto ace on the staff, after the lefty showed off an improved repertoire in three starts last season. Don DiLoreto will be the one the Diplomats look to shut the door at the end of games.

Milestones to Watch

J.J. Freeman is on the verge of breaking through the top tier in a number of career categories. He currently sits fifth in triples (8) and sixth in home runs (9).

Centennial Preseason Poll

F&M earned one first-place vote in the 2021 Centennial Conference preseason poll, starting their season in the #2 spot with 39 points. Johns Hopkins collected seven first-place votes to be selected first with 49 points.