SWARTHMORE, Pa. -- Franklin & Marshall baseball split a pair of games on the road against Swarthmore on Saturday, locking in as the second seed in the Centennial Conference (CC) Championship later this week. The Diplomats (23-14, 14-4 CC) took the first game 11-2, but fell in the rubber match 7-1 to the Garnet (21-17, 14-4 CC).
F&M finished up the regular season with their best Centennial record since 2007, when the Diplomats ended 15-3 in conference play.
Shortstop Bobby Falese ended the regular season with 51 RBI after a two-run homer in the first game, resetting the program record for RBI in a season. He passed Andy Myers' 49 RBI effort in 2002, after tying the record on Friday against Gettysburg.
Game 1: F&M 11, Swarthmore 2
The Diplomats struck early and often, taking a 9-1 lead by the fourth inning and never looking back.
F&M took just two batters to get on the board, as a leadoff single by Tommy Denlinger set the table for Spencer Berson. Berson extended his streak of reaching base to 21 straight games with a two-run blast to left field for a 2-0 lead. Swarthmore answered back with a sacrifice fly to cut the F&M lead in half.
The Diplomats pulled away in the third, as Bobby Falese reached on an error, then Jakob Hoffman ran his hitting streak to 16 games with a double to center to put runners on second and third. Four straight Diplomats came to the plate and came away with RBI - Will Samuel scored one on a sacrifice fly, AJ Desautels scored another on a single, Patrick Elliott plated Desautels on a triple, then Patrick Cettina kept up his hot hitting with a two run dinger to center. When it was all said and done, F&M lead 7-1.
Bobby Falese reset the F&M season record for RBI with a two run blast to center, now sitting alone at the top of the list with 51 RBI.
F&M added insurance in the seventh and eighth, as Patrick Cettina singled through the 5.5 hole to score Desautels, then the second baseman doubled down the line to score Samuel for an 11-1 lead. Swarthmore took a run back with a bases loaded walk, but the damage was already done by the F&M offense in the 11-2 final.
Will Samuel finished 3-for-4, while another six Diplomats ended with multi-hit games. Patrick Cettina made it seven RBI in two games with a 2-for-4, three RBI effort. Spencer Berson, Bobby Falese, and AJ Desautels all finished with a pair of RBI.
Game 2: Swarthmore 7, F&M 1
This time it was Swarthmore to pack on the runs early, building a six-run advantage by the fourth to ultimately clinch the #1 seed in the CC Championship.
F&M threatened in the first, as Bobby Falese followed a Spencer Berson double to put ducks on the pond with just one away. Two batters later, Will Samuel drew a two-out walk to load the bases, but the Diplomats went down on strikes to end the chance.
Swarthmore cooked up a two-out RBI single in the second to take a 1-0 lead. The Garnet ultimately chased F&M starting pitcher Kyle Roche after a three-run third that included a two-run homer to left. The home side continued to feast on Diplomat relief pitching, netting another pair of runs in the fourth for a 6-0 lead.
The Garnet tacked on an extra in the eighth on a sac fly to right, making it 7-0.
F&M struggled to put runners on, only putting a single runner in scoring position in the sixth inning. The Diplomats finally got on the board in the ninth, as Drew Butera smacked a pinch-hit triple to right, scoring AJ Desautels.
The Diplomats clinched the #2 seed in the Centennial Conference Championship with the split, and will host Washington as the #3 seed on Thursday, May 5 beginning at 3:00 p.m. at Caplan Field.
Regardless of the result, F&M will travel on Saturday, May 7 to Swarthmore, who will host the remaining games of the tournament.