LANCASTER, Pa. - Ace starting pitcher Jonathan Cole tossed an eight-inning gem to deliver Franklin & Marshall's baseball team a crucial 2-0 shutout win against Haverford on Thursday afternoon in the opening game of the Centennial Conference (CC) Tournament.
The Diplomats, who improved to 27-13, advanced to Saturday's game four in Baltimore at 12:30 p.m. to face the winner of No. 1 Johns Hopkins or No. 4 Muhlenberg for a spot in Sunday's Championship game of the double-elimination tournament. The Fords, who fell to 18-19, will compete again on Saturday at 9:00 a.m. in the elimination contest.
Both starting pitchers twirled efficient frames through the first six innings in Thursday's contest. F&M finally broke through the scoreless affair in the bottom of the seventh, beginning with Kelsey Launi's leadoff double to center field.
Don DiLoreto was hit by a pitch to place runners on first and second before a wild pitch advanced both into scoring position with no outs on the board.
Following a Diplomat strikeout, Will Samuel was intentionally walked to load the bases with one out. Catcher Danny Blugis stepped to the dish and made the Fords' pay for the free pass to Samuel, lining a single down the left field line that allowed DiLoreto and Launi both to score for the 2-0 edge.
Haverford threatened in the top of the eighth, drawing a two-out walk that loaded the bases. However, Cole stood tall and forced a fly ball to right field that ended the frame.
Blugis moved from behind the plate to on the mound, assuming the closer role for the ninth. He notched his sixth save of the season after forcing a pair of fly outs to left field and a grounder to first that slammed the door shut on the Fords.
Cole continued his streak of impressive outings with eight innings pitched, allowing just four hits while striking out eight to improve to 7-2 on the year. Luke Durris (3-4) suffered the hard-luck loss for Haverford after being charged with two runs on three hits in six innings of work.
Blugis tallied two of F&M's four hits on the afternoon with a 2-for-3 performance that included two RBIs. J.J. Freeman was active from the leadoff spot with a 1-for-2 effort that also saw the sophomore shortstop reach base twice with walks.
Stay tuned to GoDiplomats.com for the latest information regarding F&M's weekend contests.