ALLENTOWN, Pa - Franklin & Marshall broke loose for a 19-4 barnburning victory in Game 1, before their comeback attempt fell short in a 9-4 loss in Game 2 to Muhlenberg in Centennial Conference (CC) action on Saturday afternoon. The loss was F&M's first of the year, with the split giving them a 5-1, 5-1 CC record, while the Mules recorded their second straight split for a 2-2, 2-2 CC record.
Game 1: F&M 19, Muhlenberg 4
F&M started quickly, as Matt Gluck reached on an error, and Tommy Denlinger followed with a single. J.J. Freeman laced a triple to left center for a 2-0 lead. Freeman scored two batters later on a Matthew Kann ground out for a 3-0 edge.
The Diplomats tacked on two more in the fourth, as Jakob Hoffman got on his horse to beat a wild throw to first by the Mules third baseman, getting all the way to third and scoring Will Samuel from first. Steven Rizzo knocked home Hoffman in the next at-bat for a 5-0 lead.
Another five runs came across in the sixth, as the first three batters all reached to load the bases. Tommy Denlinger walked to score one, J.J. Freeman doubled through the right side to score two more, and Will Samuel knocked in another through the same side to empty the bases for a 13-0 scoreline.
Muhlenberg clawed back four in the bottom half of the sixth, mostly from a bases loaded double that ended a string of four consecutive hits to start the inning.
Back-to-back walks put two on for Denlinger in the seventh, who laced a single to push one across for a 14-4 lead. Pat Elliott got in on the hit parade, hitting an RBI single two batters later and loading the bases. Tommy Alexander and Steven Rizzo worked back-to-back walks and Drew Butera was struck with a pitch to score three more to push the lead to 18-4.
Another bases loaded walk from Tommy Alexander added one last run in the eighth for the 19-4 final.
Will Samuel finished 3-for-4 with three runs and four RBI, while J.J. Freeman knocked in four and scored five times in a 2-for-4 effort. Multi-hit games were also notched by Tommy Denlinger, Matthew Jann, Pat Elliott, and Bobby Falese.
Kyle Roche (3-0) continued his hot stretch of starts, allowing only two hits and punching out eight in five innings. Roche now has a miniscule 0.53 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 17 innings of work across his three starts.
Chris Sanzone picked up his first save of the year by pitching four innings of relief.
Game 2: Muhlenberg 9, F&M 4
This time it was Muhlenberg who got off to the hot start, plating seven runners in the first two innings for an early 7-0 edge. A first inning grand slam punctuated a five-run first inning, as Matt Devlin was unable to work out of trouble the way he had in his first two starts.
J.J. Freeman knocked one over the fence in the top of the sixth, scoring two and trimming the Mules' lead to 7-2. Muhlenberg pulled those two runs right back in the bottom of the inning on back-to-back RBI singles for a 9-2 advantage.
F&M used the long ball to climb back within striking distance, as Pat Elliott deposited an offering over the left field fence to claw in 9-4. The Diplomat rally would end there, as the next two batters recorded outs to end the game.
J.J. Freeman led the way with another 2-for-4 effort, knocking in two. The senior infielder now has nine RBI in his last three games.
Matt Devlin (2-1) took the loss, giving up seven runs in two innings.
J.J. Freeman keeps moving up the Diplomat all-time leaderboard. The Game 1 triple was the ninth of his career, putting him in a tie for fourth in F&M history with Will Benenson '14. The Game 2 dinger was his tenth, putting him in fifth place alongside Bill Murray '10.
F&M continues their road trip around the Centennial, dueling with McDaniel on Saturday, April 10th. Opening pitches scheduled for noon and 3:00pm.