CLEVELAND, Ohio – Following a school-record season (30-13 overall), the Case Western Reserve University baseball team has earned the first-ever NCAA Tournament berth in program history. The Spartans will play at the Mideast Regional as the No. 6 seed in Marietta, Ohio on May 18-22. CWRU opens the week versus Adrian College (Mich.) at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 18 at Don Schaly Stadium.
"It has been a whirlwind couple of weeks for us," said fifth-year head coach Matt Englander. "We are really excited to get the opportunity and I'm ecstatic for our guys most of all. They have worked incredibly hard and the ground that our upperclassmen have covered the last few years is remarkable."
The Spartans, who have set the school-record for wins in two consecutive seasons, have been one of the top hitting teams in Division III, tying for the national-lead with 507 hits and ranking ninth with a .344 batting average as of last week's NCAA rankings.
CWRU's record-breaking senior third baseman Chad Mullins (Fredericksburg, Ohio/Waynedale) was tabbed the University Athletic Association Player of the Year after batting .473 with eight homeruns and 68 runs batted-in. Mullins leads the league in each of the triple-crown categories while leading the nation in RBI and ranking second in hits (80). Sophomore shortstop Matt Keen (Tallmadge, Ohio/Tallmadge) bats .384 with 34 RBI, 14 doubles, four triples and has struck out only seven times in 177 at-bats. Keen leads the nation in runs scored (64) while ranking 10th in hits (68) and is a perfect 11-of-11 in stolen base attempts. Junior rightfielder Sam Alexander (Alexandria, Va./T.C. Williams) is a .387 hitter with four homeruns, 51 RBI and a team-best 19 doubles and five triples. The Spartans landed five players on the All-Association team last week, including Mullins, Keen, Alexander, senior catcher Steve Bills (Greensburg, Pa./Hempfield) and sophomore first baseman Brett Ossola (Potomac, Md./Bullis School).
The Spartan pitching staff overcame a slow start and posted a 3.22 earned run average over the final 19 games (16-3). Sophomore lefthander Jamie Hora (Twinsburg, Ohio/Twinsburg) is the team's ace with a 7-3 record, a 4.61 earned run average and five complete games. Freshman southpaw Ray Kelly (Rochester, N.Y./Aquinas Institute) came on late in the season and boasts a 5-1 mark with a 3.83 ERA. Junior lefty A.J. Boshinski (Alpharetta, Ga./St. Pius X) is 4-0 with 38 strikeouts in 45.1 innings of work and freshman reliever Jose Vega (Strongsville, Ohio/Padua Franciscan) has a 3-2 record with three saves and a 3.38 ERA.
"While we are happy to get the selection, we are not just happy to be there," noted Englander. "We always have bigger aspirations and we are excited to get the chance to keep playing and keep winning together."
The Spartans have drawn No. 3-seed Adrian College (Mich.) in the opening round on Wednesday. The Bulldogs posted a 31-9 record and earned an automatic bid to the Tournament by virtue of their Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Championship.
"Adrian has a great program, Coach Rainey (Creg Rainey) does a phenomenal job up there," said Englander. "They will be a very tough opening game and we are looking forward to the challenge. At this point, if you are afraid to play good teams, you are in the wrong business."