Behind a pair of stellar pitching efforts from starters Mark Gross and Jake Shields, the Case Western Reserve University Spartans did not allow an earned run in two games on Friday afternoon, falling to 16th-ranked Washington University (Mo.) 1-0 in the opening contest, before topping the Bears 5-1 in the second game.
With the split, the Spartans now stand at 16-13 overall, and are in second in the University Athletic Association with a 10-4 conference record. The Bears lead the UAA with a 5-1 mark, and are 17-7 overall on the season after Friday's action.
Game 1: Washington 1, CWRU 0
An unearned run in the top of the seventh inning proved to be the only run allowed by the Spartans in the opening game of the doubleheader, but ultimately marked the difference in a 1-0 loss to the Bears to open the series.
Gross went seven innings in the game, limiting the Bears to just the one unearned run on four hits and five walks, while striking out a pair of batters. The sophomore threw 121 pitches in the outing and lowered his earned run average to 3.31, but accepted a tough-luck loss to drop to 3-4 on the year. Junior Liam Killingstad added two scoreless innings of relief in the game, lowering his ERA to 1.93 for the campaign.
However, the Spartans were outdueled by Washington senior Brad Margolin, who surrendered just two hits and a walk while striking out five batters for his second complete-game shutout in as many outings, improving to 6-0 on the season.
Both of CWRU's hits came in the fifth inning, when senior catcher Eric Eldred led the frame off with a single to shortstop, and freshman first baseman Casey McConihe picked up a base hit with one out to put runners at first and second. However, Eldred was picked off second base for the second out, and Margolin ended the threat with a strikeout.
In the seventh, the Bears' Austin Darmawan reached on a throwing error to open the inning, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, and to third on a wild pitch. After a nice play at shortstop by sophomore Rocco Maue resulting in the second out without the run scoring, Washington's Christian Santos delivered a two-out run scoring single on a 2-0 pitch to give the Bears the first and only run of the game.
Margolin retired the final nine Spartan batters to secure the 1-0 victory.
Game 2: CWRU 5, Washington 1
Case Western Reserve scored all of its runs in the second inning, batting around and plating five during the frame, and Shields pitched his second complete game in his last three outings in a 5-1 win over the Bears.
Shields improved to 4-3 on the season and earned the 22nd win of his career to move into sole possession of second place in school history and within two of Jamie Hora's program record of 24. He allowed just one unearned run on six hits over his nine innings of work, striking out three batters without issuing a walk. Shields has thrown 26.1 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run, yielding just one total run during that stretch, and lowering his ERA to 3.23 for the year.
With the game scoreless heading into the bottom of the second, McConihe singled to start the inning and freshman designated hitter Chris Shorter followed with a double to put two runners in scoring position. Sophomore third baseman Jacob Kucia drew a walk to load the bases, and the Spartans put the first two runs of the game on the board on a hit-by-pitch to junior second baseman Alex Capetillo and an infield single by Maue. With the bases still loaded, senior center fielder Aaron Cain tripled deep into the right centerfield gap, scoring all three runs and putting CWRU in front 5-0.
Washington scored its only run of the game in the fifth inning after AJ Dunham reached on an error, and eventually came around to score on an infield hit by Auggie Mense. However, Shields faced the minimum over his final four innings of work and retired the final 11 Bear hitters to lock up the victory for the Spartans.
Washington starter John Howard allowed five runs on five hits in his 6.1 innings, taking the loss to fall to 1-3 on the season.
McConihe and Shorter each tallied two of the Spartans six hits in the game. McConihe finished the day three-for-seven, and is now batting .423 during his freshman season.
The Spartans and the Bears will continue their four-game series on Saturday, with a doubleheader starting at noon. As always, the schedule for the remainder of the weekend is subject to change due to weather and field conditions. Any updates to the schedule will be posted to athletics.case.edu as soon as they are made available.