Early Offense Lifts Spartans to 9-1 Victory Versus Brandeis in UAA Championship

Matt Keen (photo by Lynne Browske)
Matt Keen (photo by Lynne Browske)

SANFORD, Fla. – Junior shortstop Matt Keen (Tallmadge, Ohio/Tallmadge) was 3-for-4 with three runs scored, and the Case Western Reserve University baseball team recorded seven runs in the opening two frames on its way to a 9-1 victory versus Brandeis University (Mass.) during day six of the 2012 University Athletic Association Championship at Sanford Memorial Stadium.

The Spartans, avenging a narrow 4-3 loss on Thursday to the Judges, improve to 10-5 overall and move above the .500 mark in UAA play at 4-3. Case will look to avenge Monday's loss to Emory University (Ga.) when it concludes UAA Championship play tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. against the Eagles. Brandeis slips to 5-10 overall and 1-7 in the Association.

The Judges got on the board with a single run in the top of the first. However, in the home half of the opening frame, Keen followed a leadoff double to right center field by senior second baseman Bobby Marko (Lyndhurst, Ohio/Brush) with a single through the left side moving Marko to third. Junior centerfielder Paul Pakan (Tallmadge, Ohio/Tallmadge) brought home the Spartans first run plating Marko on a single through the right side for his team-best 12th run batted-in of the spring.

After senior outfielder Sam Alexander (Alexandria, Va./T.C. Williams) was hit by a pitch to load the bases, junior first baseman Brett Ossola (Potomac, Md./Bullis School) lifted a sacrifice fly to left to plate Keen. The Spartans got their fourth run of the inning, taking advantage of one of five Brandeis errors on the game, allowing Pakan to score.

After the Judges left the bases loaded in the top of the second when Spartan sophomore starter Ray Kelly (Rochester, N.Y./Aquinas Institute) struck out Zach Bardwell swinging, Case kept the offensive roll going with three more runs in the bottom of the frame. Freshman catcher Robert Winemiller (Twinsburg, Ohio/University School) led off with a base hit to left and made it 5-1 on a run-scoring single from Marko. Keen doubled to left center and Marko moved to third before scoring on a Brandeis miscue. Keen later scored the third run of the inning on a single to right from Alexander that made the score 7-1.

Case then tacked on a run in the fourth on an RBI groundout from Ossola, giving him 11 RBI on the spring, that brought home Keen who drew a leadoff base on balls.

The Spartans recorded their ninth and final run one inning later when Keen laced a ground-rule double scoring freshman infielder Andrew Gronski (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Davidson) who singled through the right side to start the inning.

On the mound, Kelly went the first two innings for the Spartans, allowing a run on three hits while striking out two and walking one. Senior right-hander Zach Fry (Colorado Springs, Colo./Air Academy), making his first appearance since the 2010 season due to injury, logged the next 3.0 innings and was credited with the win allowing just one base hit while striking out two. Sophomore righty John Fortunato (Toledo, Ohio/St. Francis de Sales) and freshman righty Daniel Sondag (Cary, N.C./Green Hope) both pitched two shutout innings, respectively, as four of Sondag's six outs were punchouts.

Pat Nicholson, who recorded the save during Thursday's contest, took the loss for the Judges giving up seven runs (five earned) on seven hits in three innings.