MARIETTA, Ohio – Freshman Jake Shields (Hamilton, Ohio/Ross Senior) fired a four-hit shutout, and the No. 20 nationally ranked Case Western Reserve University baseball team stayed alive at the 2014 NCAA Mideast Regional with an 8-0 victory versus La Roche College (Pa.) on Saturday night at Don Schaly Stadium.
"Jake was obviously fantastic," said Head Coach Matt Englander. "La Roche is a really good team. I don't think we expected anybody to come out here and shut them out by any stretch. Jake was really good from pitch number one, he was on his game, he was down, he was disciplined."
The second-seeded Spartans (32-11) move to within one win of the school single-season record and will face a rematch with Thomas More College (Ky.) tomorrow afternoon at 2:15 p.m. The seventh-seeded Red Hawks end their season at 31-15.
"You come into the day expecting that you're only going to play one, and it comes as a shock when you have to play two," Englander said. "To be up, to be into it, to communicate, it shows mental toughness. That is something that our guys have."
With two days remaining in the tournament, only four teams remain, including the unbeaten duo of Widener University (Pa.) and Salisbury University (Md.).
Shields' first career shutout came on 125 pitches (82 strikes) as the right-hander struck out nine while only issuing three walks. During a stretch from the second inning to the seventh, Shields (6-2) retired 15 batters in a row.
"I knew that I had to go out there and give it the best I could, but I didn't expect to go nine," said Shields. "I was just focusing on the small things in my mechanics. I wasn't thinking about the next inning. It was just on to the next pitch, the next pitch, the next pitch."
Offensively, sophomore first baseman Noah Sherman (Kensington, Md./Georgetown Preparatory) was 4-for-5 with two RBI and a run. Senior shortstop Andrew Frey (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) went 3-for-5 with two doubles and an RBI.
The Spartans got on the board with a solo run in the top of the second as senior rightfielder Jordan Dague (Barberton, Ohio/Barberton) laced an RBI single to left, plating Sherman.
In the top of the fifth, CWRU added to its advantage with two runs on three hits. A well-executed hit-and-run with junior designated hitter Will Meador (Columbus, Ohio/Worthington Kilbourne) at the plate put runners at the corners with no outs. Frey then provided an RBI double down the left field line to score freshman centerfielder Aaron Cain (Hartville, Ohio/Archbishop Hoban), and junior third baseman Andrew Gronski (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Davidson) followed with a sacrifice fly to left center.
An inning later, the Spartans bumped the lead to 4-0 as Dague singled, moved to second on a wild pitch, and came around to score on a two-out RBI single by Cain. Sherman and freshman leftfielder Antonio Damiano (Naples, Fla./Gulf Coast) then hit back-to-back two-out RBI singles in the seventh to make the score 6-0. Each batter drove home a run in the ninth as well.
Walt Hadjuk (6-3) took the loss for La Roche in seven innings pitched.
Of note, Gronski finished the night 1-for-4 to pull within three hits of 2011 graduate Chad Mullins' CWRU single-season record of 83.
Tomorrow's opponent, Thomas More, staged off elimination earlier today with an upset of host and top-seeded Marietta College. On the opening night of the regional, the Spartans defeated the Saints, 6-2.