DANVILLE, Va. – Senior third baseman Chad Mullins (Fredericksburg, OH/Waynedale) tied the school career record forhits as the Case WesternReserve University baseball team opened up its 2011 season with a pair of wins, 8-7 and 8-2, on the road against Averett University (VA) on Saturday, February 19 at Owen-Fulton Field.
Mullins entered the day three hits short of the CWRU career hit record, and posted a 2-for-5 game in the opener. After failing to produce a hit in his first three trips to the plate in game two, the senior pounded a home run to left center field to tie the record and cap the scoring for Case as the Spartans improved to 2-0 with the sweep. Mullins now shares the all-time hit mark with Scott Feskanich, who recorded 183 hits from 1994-97.
In game one, the Spartans had six players record multi-hit games, producing 13 hits as sophomore shortstop Matt Keen (Tallmadge, OH/Tallmadge) led the way with a 2-for-4 game, scoring twice and knocking in two more.
Sophomore southpaw Jamie Hora (Twinsburg, OH/Twinsburg) went the distance on the mound for Case in game one, tossing seven innings to earn the win (1-0) while surrendering five earned runs and striking out four. Junior righty Noah Lieberman (Evanston, IL/Evanston) also pitched a full seven in game two, striking out five and allowing just two earned runs to pick up a win (1-0).
Averett dropped to 1-7 on the year with the two setbacks, as lefty Chris Moyer was hit with the loss in game one. Tyler Muench took the loss in game two for the Cougars.
The offenses started slow in the afternoon's first tilt, as the score was knotted 0-0 until the top of the third, when Mullins led off with a single to left. After sophomore first baseman Brett Ossola (Baltimore, MD/Bullis School) followed by reaching on a fielder's choice, junior right fielder Sam Alexander (Alexandria, VA/T.C. Williams) laced an RBI double to center to score Ossola and give Case a 1-0 advantage.
Keen then led off the top of the fifth with a two-base hit to left-center, and Ossola singled through the left side to score Keen and make it a 2-0 ballgame.
Averett came right back and tied the game in the bottom half of the fifth, however, when Jimbo Newcomb rapped an RBI single to right field and later scored on a single by Adam Higgins.
The Spartans answered by exploding for six runs in the sixth, taking an 8-2 lead. Hora grounded out to lead off the inning, but junior outfielders Matt Richards (San Juan Capistrano, CA/San Clemente) and Jimmy Abed (Westlake, OH/Westlake) each lined one out singles to center and advanced on an error by Higgins. Keen followed with a two-run single down the left field line and Mullins stepped up next, scoring Keen with an RBI double.
Two un-earned runs crossed next before sophomore second baseman Bobby Marko (Lyndhurst, OH/Brush) singled through the left side of the infield to plate Cory Pecoraro (Strongsville, OH/Benedictine).
Averett pushed across five runs in the bottom of the seventh, but the Spartans managed to hang on for the one-run win, 8-7.
In the day's second contest, the Spartans got on the board early with three runs in the top of the second. Marko doubled in two, while Richards forced another run in as Case took a 3-0 lead.
Averett answered with a pair of runs in the bottom frame, but the Spartans picked up a run and led 4-2 after an Ossola solo homer in the top of the third. Ossola then reached on a fielding error in the top of the fifth, leading to two more unearned runs for Case. Keen and Richards crossed the plate to make it a 6-2 game.
An inning later, Richards knocked freshman Jordan Dague (Barberton, OH/Barberton) in with a single to center. Mullins supplied the Spartans' eighth run with his school record-tying solo shot in the seventh.
There won't be a long layover in-between games for Case, as the team is back in action tomorrow (Sunday, Feb. 20) in another doubleheader against Guilford College (NC). First pitch is scheduled for 12:00 p.m.