Case Western Reserve University sophomore Mark Gross pitched seven scoreless innings and senior Aaron Cain drove in three runs, as the Spartans completed a strong finish to their 2017 Spring Break trip with an 8-0 shutout win over the University of Rochester in Chestertown, Maryland on Sunday afternoon.
With the win, the Spartans closed out their weeklong trip with a 5-4 record, including four-straight victories and five of their last six to close out the trip. Case Western Reserve improved to 6-9 overall on the season, while Rochester dropped to 0-2.
Making his third start in the last nine days, Gross was masterful on Sunday, allowing just three hits and four walks over his seven innings of work, while striking out four batters. It marked the second time this season he has pitched seven or more innings without allowing an earned run, with the other coming during a complete-game win over Allegheny on March 4th. Gross earned the win in the game to improve to 2-2 on the season.
The Spartans pounded out 11 hits on Sunday, all singles, and capitalized on seven errors by Rochester in the game. Cain was two-for-five with three runs batted in, while sophomore Jacob Kucia added a two-for-four performance with three runs scored.
The teams exchanged scoreless innings until the top of the fifth, when Case Western Reserve batted around, taking advantage of three Rochester errors to bring three runs across in the inning. The Spartans started the scoring when Cain reached on an error with two runners in scoring position, bringing in Kucia. Two batters later, senior Tony Damiano hit a fly ball to leftfield that was dropped, allowing senior Eric Eldred to score. Freshman Noah Mehrle added an RBI single to drive in sophomore Rocco Maue and give CWRU a 3-0 lead by the end of the frame.
Cain extended the Spartans lead to 4-0 with a RBI single in the sixth that scored Kucia. A bases loaded walk to Eldred, and a base hit from junior Alex Capetillo extended the lead to 6-0 in the top of the seventh. Later in the inning, a wild pitch and a run-scoring groundout from Cain, his third RBI of the game, pushed the CWRU advantage to 8-0.
Freshman Scott Kutschke and sophomore Corey Brown pitched scoreless innings in the eighth and ninth, respectively, to complete the Spartans' first shutout since a 2-0 win over Marietta on April 24th of last year, a game that was also started by Gross. Case Western Reserve pitchers held Rochester to just three hits in Sunday's game.
Yellowjackets' starter Jack Denzer took the loss for Rochester, falling to 0-1 on the year with the setback.
The Spartans will now turn their attention to University Athletic Association play, with the conference's new schedule format starting next weekend. Case Western Reserve's next 16 games, spanning the next four weekends, will all be against UAA competition. The Spartans will open conference play on the road next weekend in Atlanta, Georgia against top-ranked Emory University, beginning on Friday, March 24th at 3:00 p.m.