HAVERFORD, Pa. – The Haverford College baseball team (18-18, 11-6 CC) will be looking to capture its fourth Centennial Conference title in the last eight seasons this weekend, with action beginning in earnest on Thursday afternoon in Lancaster as the Fords take on Franklin & Marshall (26-13, 12-6 CC) at 1 p.m. The Fords have become accustomed to playing baseball into May, with 13 trips to the Centennial Conference tournament in the last 15 campaigns.
The Centennial Conference postseason follows a double-elimination format. The first game on Thursday matches third-seeded Haverford with the second-seeded Diplomats, while in Baltimore, top-seeded No. 21 Johns Hopkins faces off with fourth-seeded Muhlenberg (3 p.m.) The winners will then face off on Saturday afternoon in Baltimore, with the winner of that contest securing an automatic spot in the Centennial Conference championship slated for Sunday. The losers of the first-round contest will look to get back into championship contention after playing a Saturday morning elimination game slated for 9 a.m.
The two squads last met in the Centennial Conference postseason in 2015, with the Diplomats escaping with a 6-3 victory in the matchup. The two sides have matched up in postseason play on eight occasions dating back to the 2006 season. Franklin & Marshall last won the Centennial crown in 2013. In total, the teams in the playoff field have captured 16 of the available 17 championships in the history of the conference tournament. Haverford's pedigree includes recent titles in 2012, 2014, and 2016.
Earlier this year, Haverford swept Muhlenberg in a home-and-home series and also split with Johns Hopkins at home, compiling a 3-3 overall record against potential postseason opposition this season after dropping a pair in Lancaster less than two weeks ago. Haverford will look for an opening victory away from Kannerstein Field, where Haverford went an impressive 9-1 during conference play. The Fords will be looking to avenge that road sweep at the hands of Franklin & Marshall, and will head to Lancaster with a pitching staff that has been one of the strongest in the Centennial this year. Haverford's pitching staff has combined for a 4.07 ERA, striking out 259 batters in just 300.2 innings.
Senior Luke Duris (33 strikeouts in 33 innings), junior Dylan Livingston (19 strikeouts in 26 innings), sophomore Nathan Bass (3-2, 2.36 ERA, .167 opponent batting average), and first-year Martin Matsumura (1-0, 3.42 ERA) have combined to make 25 of Haverford's 36 starts, while sophomore Andrew Johnson is proving to be a vital swingman, making four starts and 10 total appearances while tallying an unblemished 7-0 record with a 2.15 ERA. Junior reliever Brandon Jenkins has also been a key component of the bullpen, holding opponents to a 1.69 ERA, compiling four saves in his 10 appearances this year.
Offensively, the Fords have benefited from consistency in the top and middle of the order, as junior shortstop Will Karp has been a stalwart from the leadoff spot. The reigning Centennial Conference Gold Glove of the Year has also become a vital part of the offense, recording a .391/. 461/. 519 slash line and tallying 17 multi-hit contests. Karp has been a threat on the base paths nearly every time he reaches, with 26 steals in just 29 attempts. The Princeton, N.J. product leads Haverford in batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, hits, runs scored, steals, and total bases.
Senior outfielder Ethan Lee-Tyson has put together one of the finest careers in the history of the program as the program's all-time career leader in hits and runs scored continues to be a threat from the second spot in the order. Lee-Tyson is hitting .296 in Centennial Conference games, and is one of four players with 10 or more RBI in those contests, joining junior outfielders Owen Plambeck and Harrison Burns, along with junior infielder Luke Wallis to form an explosive core to the lineup. Lee-Tyson has a team-leading three home runs on the year, and has also swiped 15 bases in just 16 attempts.
Senior infielder Nick Perez has also emerged with a stellar senior campaign, hitting .287 with 27 hits in his 94 at-bats. Senior catcher Sam Partee has also found a knack for getting on base, with 13 walks thus far. He also has recorded some clutch RBI, and tied for the team lead in sacrifice flies. First-year Zach Landry has provided an immediate threat in the order, as he ranks fifth on the squad in total bases (37).
Defensively, the team is one of the sharpest in the conference, with Karp helping to anchor the infield and Lee-Tyson patrolling center field. Haverford has compiled a .958 fielding percentage, and a .963 mark in conference play.
Throughout the weekend, all of the action will be streamed via CentennialConference.TV and the Centennial Conference Digital Network. Fans are also encouraged to follow @HCFords_BSB on Twitter and @HCFordsSports on Instagram for the latest updates throughout all spring postseason play.