BEREA, Ohio – Freshman utility player Andrew Gronski (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Davidson) smacked his first career homerun as the Case Western Reserve University baseball team tied season highs in both runs and hits while doubling up cross-town rival Baldwin-Wallace College by a score of 18-9 at a sunny but windy Heritage Field on Wednesday.
With the victory, the Spartans improve to 17-10-1 overall heading into a pair of games on Saturday, April 7 at V.A. Memorial Field in Chillicothe. Case will take on the Little Giants of Wabash College (Ind.) at 10:00 a.m. followed by a game with The College of Wooster Fighting Scots at 4:00 p.m.
With the loss, the Yellow Jackets fall to 17-5 for the spring.
The Spartans wasted little time getting on the board scoring two runs on four hits in the top of the first inning aided by a Yellow Jacket miscue. Senior left fielder Sam Alexander (Alexandria, Va./T.C. Williams) had an RBI groundout and junior first baseman Brett Ossola (Potomac, Md./Bullis School) singled through the left side, scoring junior shortstop Matt Keen (Tallmadge, Ohio/Tallmadge) who reached base via the error.
The hosts cut the lead in half (2-1) in the second on an RBI double down the left field line off Spartan lefthanded starter Jamie Hora (Twinsburg, Ohio/Twinsburg).
However, Case scored pushed its lead back to two in the fourth on a run-scoring single off of the bat of freshman catcher Robert Winemiller (Twinsburg, Ohio/University School). The visitors kept the offensive momentum rolling with three more in the fifth. Ossola plated Keen on a single through the left side and came around to score on Gronski's first round-tripper in a Spartan uniform, a deep blast into the teeth of the wind to right field, putting Case ahead by a 6-1 margin.
The Yellow Jackets sliced the Spartan advantage to just one, 6-5, on a single run in the home half of the fifth and three more in the sixth.
Clinging to the one-run advantage, the Case offense awoke as the flood gates opened. The Spartans scored eight runs on seven hits in the top of the eighth including two-run singles by both sophomore third baseman Andrew Frey (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) and Ossola.
Not done, Baldwin-Wallace made things interesting in the bottom of the eighth scoring four runs on just two hits and one Spartan error, cutting the Case lead to 14-9, but Case tacked on four runs in the top of the ninth sealing the victory.
At the plate as a team, the Spartans matched season-best totals with 18 runs and 17 hits. Individually, Winemiller posted a career-high four hits in five at-bats with two RBI and a run scored, while Ossola and Frey each had three-hit performances. Ossola also recorded a team-best four RBI, while Frey had three RBI, a run scored and a double.
Also of note, Keen was 2-for-5 tying him with Gronski for team-high honors with four runs scored. Keen's four-run total gives him 143 thus far through half of his junior season, and puts him just 17 tallies shy of tying the Spartan career mark of 160 established just last spring by All-American Chad Mullins.
On the mound, Hora battled his way through 5.2 innings and stayed perfect improving to 7-0 this season allowing five runs (three earned) on 10 hits with six strikeouts and a walk. Freshman righthander Edward Abramson (Maitland, Fla./Winter Park) recorded the next four outs not allowing a hit before giving way to classmate Kevin Johnstone (Placentia, Calif./Valencia). Johnstone worked the final 2.0 innings surrendering four unearned runs on six hits striking out a pair.
Freshman Kyle Chontos led the Yellow Jacket attack going 4-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored, while junior Brendan Toughey went 3-for-5 with a pair of runs.
Brent Edmonds was credited with the loss on the hill for Baldwin-Wallace giving up six runs, five earned, on seven hits in 4.2 innings.