Friday, March 2, 2007
By Mike Ballard
CAMDEN - Franklin & Marshall College sophomore pitcher Matthew Metsch (East Brunswick, NJ/East Brunswick) worked six strong innings in the Diplomats' first game of the season to hurl his team over Rutgers University-Camden, 5-2, in a non-conference game here Friday at Campbell's Field.
Metsch, who won all six of his decisions as a freshman, improved his collegiate career record to 7-0 as he allowed four hits, two earned runs, one walk and six strikeouts.
After Rutgers-Camden (2-2) tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth, the Diplomats scored an unearned run in top of the seventh inning off of Rutgers-Camden starting and losing pitcher Jason Ronca (Eastampton, NJ/Rancocas Valley), who fell to 1-1 on the year.
Junior shortstop Tom Miller (York, PA/Central York) walked to open the frame and the Diplomats’ junior center fielder Jeff Lawrence (Hanover, PA/Delone Catholic) laid down a sacrifice bunt. He was safe when the flip from Ronca was dropped at first base after sailing into the late-afternoon sun glaring down on the right side of the field. Miller advanced to third and Ronca was relieved by junior southpaw Andrew Lihotz (Philadelphia, PA/Northeast). Lihotz retired three straight batters, including the final two on strikes, but his first batter, junior second baseman Rob Stern (Franklin Lanes, NJ/Indian Hills), delivered a sacrifice fly to right to plate the eventual winning run.
The Diplomats tacked on single runs in the eighth and ninth innings. They scored in the eighth on an RBI pinch-hit single by freshman Frank Hurd (Warwick, RI/Warwick Veterans) and added a run in the ninth on an RBI double by junior left fielder Rich Gallugi (Peabody, MA/St. John’s Prep). Gallugi finished the day 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and one RBI.
Rutgers-Camden threatened in the ninth when it collected a pair of one-out singles off Diplomat senior reliever Jeffrey Rowand (York, PA/Dallastown). The Raptors had hits by junior right fielder Joe Midili (Sewell, NJ/Washington Township) and sophomore second baseman Dean Straga (Mullica Hill, NJ/Clearview Regional), but Franklin & Marshall brought in junior Dan Tischler (New York, NY/Horace Mann) to get the final two outs on a fielder’s choice and a grounder to first base.
The Diplomats took an early 2-0 lead in the first inning on a two-run double by Rowand, who was in the game as the designated hitter. They nearly added a run in the second, but Raptor junior shortstop Shawn Park (West Berlin, NJ/St. Joseph-Hammonton) made a great diving play to take a two-out hit away from Stern with a runner at third base.
The Raptors, who were held to only one hit by Metsch over the first three innings, made it a 2-1 game in the fourth when senior center fielder Nate Buchter (Blackwood, NJ/Highland Regional) blooped an opposite-field double down the left field line. Buchter scored on a one-out single by senior catcher Tom Terrill (Sewell, NJ/Washington Township).
Buchter, who went 3-for-4 with a single, double and triple on the day, had a one-out triple in the sixth. He scored the tying run on a sacrifice fly by senior third baseman Mark Wickersham (Cinnaminson, NJ/Cinnaminson).
Gallugi and Rowand each had two hits for the Diplomats, while Rowan had two RBIs and Stern scored twice.
Buchter scored both runs for Rutgers-Camden during his 3-for-4 day. Straga added a pair of hits, including a double, for Rutgers-Camden.
The Scarlet Raptors return to action Saturday, March 3, with a 1 p.m. non-conference home game against Albright College.