Behind a rotation headlined by a dominant one-two combo and a batting order with a knack for clutch hits, the Franklin & Marshall baseball team produced a memorable 2019 campaign.
The Diplomats won the fifth-most games in their 131-year history with a 27-15 overall record, reached the Centennial Conference (CC) Playoffs for the second straight year and produced the program's first All-American since 1995.
A historic start saw F&M open 2019 with an 11-2 record, a feat that has never been accomplished by a Diplomat baseball team. Eight of those 10 wins occurred during F&M's annual Florida spring break trip, including a 2-1 upset over No. 17 Keystone on March 15th that saw Andrew Poirier '20 register an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth to claim the walk-off win.
In Centennial play, F&M garnered a firm grasp on one of the four Tournament spots after pulling off doubleheader Saturday sweeps of defending-champion Swarthmore on April 13th, as well as Haverford on April 20th. The Diplomats rolled into the Playoffs with a 12-6 CC mark and the right to host an opening-round game as the No. 2 seed for the Tournament.
Winners of seven out of its final eight regular-season games, F&M kept the momentum rolling with a 2-0 shutout of Haverford at home on May 2nd. Ace starter Jonathan Cole '20 was lights out on the mound, tossing an eight-inning gem and allowing just four hits while striking out eight for the vital win. However, the Diplomats' impressive season came to a halt the next day after losses to eventual College World Series participant Johns Hopkins, as well as Haverford.
The 2019 season proved to be one for the record books as the team, and several individuals reset program marks. F&M's pitching staff racked up a single-season record of 320 strikeouts and tallied the second-lowest ERA (3.92).
With a doubleheader sweep of No. 9 Swarthmore on April 13th, sixth-year head coach Ryan Horning became F&M baseball's all-time winningest coach. Horning also reached the 100-win plateau in 2019 after sweeping Hampden-Sydney on Feb. 24.
Senior first baseman Dan Marano '19 wrapped up one of the program's most-storied careers with a record 113 RBIs, and the second-most hits at 174. Senior catcher/reliever Danny Blugis broke the career caught-stealing record with 32, while Cole struck out 14 batters in a 3-1 win over Haverford on April 20th - the highest-known total in program single-season history.
Cole went on to be named to the D3baseball.com All-America Second Team, as well as the Mid-Atlantic Region's Pitcher of the Year. Only the second All-American in program history, Cole also became just the third CC Pitcher of the Year for the Diplomats when he was also announced to the All-CC First Team in early May.
The junior ace of the staff produced the lowest-ever season ERA (1.02) among F&M pitchers with at least 50 innings of work. Cole didn't allow an earned run through his last four starts in 2019, which spanned 29 innings. Overall on the year, he tallied a 7-2 record, struck out 76 batters in 70 1/3 innings and held opponents to a mere .174 batting average.
Fellow starter Jack Buckley '20 was also recognized for his dominance at the top of the rotation, earning All-Region Third Team honors and All-CC First Team accolades after collecting 73 strikeouts on the year, good for the second-most among all Centennial pitchers. The junior lefty produced a 7-3 record in 69 1/3 innings with a 2.60 ERA.
The duo was joined on the All-CC team by designated hitter Don DiLoreto '21 (Second Team) and shortstop J.J. Freeman '21 (Honorable Mention). 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).