HAVERFORD, Pa. – The Haverford College baseball team (19-14-1, 10-7-1 CC) opens its 10th straight Centennial Conference tournament journey on Thursday at Kannerstein Field as the Fords host Ursinus in an opening round contest slated for a 3:00 p.m. first pitch. The Fords are accustomed to May baseball as 2017 also represents the 12th time in 13 seasons Haverford has advanced to the Centennial tournament.
The Centennial Conference postseason follows a double elimination format. In its first game, second seeded Haverford will face No. 3 Ursinus College at home on Thursday at 3 p.m. The winner will face the winner of top seeded Johns Hopkins and No. 4 Gettysburg on Saturday in Baltimore. The winner of that game will automatically go to the Centennial Conference championship on Sunday in Baltimore.
Haverford split the season series with Ursinus this season, falling by a final score of 12-6 at home on April 5 before traveling to Ursinus on April 9 and taking home a 6-3 victory. Haverford was largely stymied by starter David Drea of the Bears before rallying with four runs in the final three innings. When the home-and-home series shifted to Collegeville, the Fords sent Dylan Livingston to the mound. Livingston held Ursinus without a hit through four innings and jumped on starter Connor Moriarty for an early 4-0 lead after five innings.
Offensively for Haverford, Ethan Lee-Tyson has been one of the top performers in the Centennial Conference all season. In conference games, he ranks first in runs and hits and second in home runs, RBI, stolen bases, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. His .408 batting average in conference games is third amongst all qualifiers. The Fords have also received offensive firepower from Sam Partee, Ben Furlong and Spencer Sohmer, who all rank amongst the top 10 in the Centennial Conference in RBI.
The Fords have used the longball as an offensive weapon this season, with Furlong and Lee-Tyson each powering eight homers. Partee has smacked six and Matt Goss has launched five, including an inside-the-park effort against Ursinus. Earlier this season, Furlong entered the Centennial Conference record books with a three-homer day against Franklin & Marshall, also becoming the first Ford to club three in a single contest.
Any discussion of the Haverford offense would be incomplete without mention of the running game. The Fords have swiped 109 bags on the season, 48 more than Swarthmore, the second speediest team in the conference. Amongst playoff entrants, Johns Hopkins (50), Ursinus (42) and Gettysburg (40) lag well behind in the category. Haverford's stolen base output of 3.21 steals per game is second in the nation, behind only Earlham College (3.85/gm).
On the mound, Livingston, Brandon Jenkins, Jared Deveau and Tom Phillips have combined for 26 of the Fords' 34 starts this season. First year hurlers Livingston (4-1, 3.45 ERA) and Jenkins (3-0, 2.79 ERA) have formed a powerful tandem while Deveau (3-3, 2.48 ERA) and Phillips (2-2, 4.91 ERA) provide leadership to a young group of arms.
In the bullpen, Anthony Rizzo, John Masella and Patrick O'Shea figure to be called on to provide crucial late-inning outs while Nathan Vucovich and Ben Verducci are vital swingmen with starting experience.
Defensively, the Fords infield core of Sohmer, Furlong, Will Karp and Nick Perez have been active all season as Haverford averages 1.26 double plays turned per contest. The mark is first in the Centennial and second in the NCAA to only Ithaca (1.47/gm).
Haverford is looking for back-to-back conference titles after taking the crown last season in Baltimore. Haverford took its run into the NCAA Regionals before falling to Kean in an elimination game of the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional.
All of the action will be streamed via CentennialConference.TV and the Centennial Conference Roku player app. Fans are also encouraged to follow @HCFords_BSB on Twitter and @HCFordsSports on Instagram for the latest updates throughout postseason action.