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Baseball Clinches Playoff Berth with Doubleheader Sweep of McDaniel

Nathan Bass
Nathan Bass

HAVERFORD, Pa. – The Haverford College baseball team (18-17, 11-6) assured a return to the Centennial Conference tournament in an emphatic way on Saturday, clinching a 13th trip to the  playoffs in 15 seasons with a doubleheader sweep of McDaniel (11-22-1, 3-14) The Fords grabbed a 3-2, come-from-behind victory over the Green Terror in game one, before breezing over McDaniel in an 11-0 game two victory. Pitching was the key for Haverford all day long as the Fords hurlers allowed just one earned run in 18 innings of work, striking out 21 batters in the doubleheader sweep.

Haverford 3, McDaniel 2

The Fords sent first-year lefty Martin Matsumura to the hill for the start, and McDaniel countered with senior Robbie Mays. McDaniel grabbed an unearned run in the first inning, but Matsumura kept the Green Terror lineup off-guard with seven strikeouts in his four plus innings of work. Sophomore Andrew Johnson (7-0) took over on the mound in the fifth, as DJ Biscoe singled home the second run of the contest for McDaniel.

After a quick sixth inning from Johnson, junior Will Karp drew the Fords closer with a leadoff homer to left field, his first jolt of the season. Mays recovered, retiring the side with relative ease to send the visitors to the seventh with a 2-1 lead. Johnson had a shutdown inning in the seventh, and Mays countered with a perfect bottom of the inning.

Senior Jared Turner made a fantastic catch on a ball lifted into the outfield off the bat of TJ McGuire in the eighth. Turner saved at least extra bases and potentially a home run as he was able to snare a wind-aided ball at the wall for the first out of the inning. A pop up and a strikeout ended the inning, and Haverford went to work offensively in the bottom of the frame. 

Senior Nick Perez reached on a fielding error to begin the inning, and Karp followed with a single into center. Senior Ethan Lee-Tyson then doubled into right-center field, plating Perez to tie the game. Junior Harrison Burns followed with an infield single, scoring Lee-Tyson to give Haverford the 3-2 lead.

Johnson worked around a leadoff walk in the ninth to secure his team-leading seventh win of the season.  Johnson allowed four hits and struck out three in his five innings of relief action. The sophomore is currently tied for second in the conference in wins and has the third lowest ERA among qualified pitchers in the Centennial.

Karp had a three-hit contest in game one, while Burns added a pair. Tim Griest and Tom Daly each had three-hit games for McDaniel. Mays took a complete game loss for McDaniel, striking out seven and allowing just one earned run.

Haverford 11, McDaniel 0

Game two looked to be every bit of a pitcher's duel as game one to start, as the Fords sent sophomore Nathan Bass (3-2) to the mound, facing Jordan Rhodes (2-6).

Bass was absolutely dominant in the early goings of the contest, as he retired the first 12 batters he faced before Griest singled just out of the diving reach of Turner to lead off the fifth. Rhodes was nearly as sharp in his first four frames, allowing just a single from junior Luke Wallis and a walk to Burns. 

Haverford added its first run of the contest in the bottom of the fifth. First-year Zach Landry singled up the middle, and senior Sam Partee reached on an fielding error. Turner then notched a single through the left side of the infield, scoring Landry.

After Bass worked around pair of walks in the top of the sixth, Haverford added two more in the bottom of the inning. Lee-Tyson and Burns roped singles to begin the frame, and Wallis scored Lee-Tyson from third with a sacrifice bunt. Owen Plambeck then singled into left, plating Burns for a 3-0 advantage.

Bass had a perfect seventh inning, and left the contest with just one hit allowed. The sophomore struck out seven and walked two in his seven innings of work.

Junior Brandon Jenkins took over and struck out the side in the eighth, and Haverford broke the game open in the bottom of the inning. The Fords plated eight runs on four hits in the eighth, with a Plambeck home run and a Perez single giving the Fords an 8-0 lead. Senior Tom Phillips capped the frame with a pinch-hit double down the left field line, allowing the hosts to pull to an 11-0 lead. 

Jenkins worked around a leadoff single in the ninth to secure his fourth save of the season. Jenkins struck out four in his two innings of work and is currently fourth in the Centennial in saves. Jordan Rhodes struck out five in his seven plus innings, allowing seven hits, three walks, and three earned runs.

Each of Haverford's starters recorded a hit or scored a run in the contest, with Plambeck finishing with a game-best three runs batted in.

With a spot in the Centennial Conference Tournament secured, the Fords will head out on the road to Washington College tomorrow for a 1 p.m. first pitch as seeding and hosting implications are still very much in play on the final day of the conference's regular season. A Haverford victory over Washington, combined with a Franklin & Marshall loss to Ursinus, will give the Fords a first-round playoff contest at Kannerstein Field for the second time in three seasons.