Swisher’s Day at the Plate Highlights Spartan Split with Denison and No. 15 Marietta

Jordan Swisher was a combined 5-for-7 with a homer and five RBI in the two games. (photo by Nick Minerd)
Jordan Swisher was a combined 5-for-7 with a homer and five RBI in the two games. (photo by Nick Minerd)

BECKLEY, W. Va. – Junior catcher Jordan Swisher (Pittsford, N.Y./Pittsford Sutherland) went a combined 5-for-7 with a homerun and five RBI as the Case Western Reserve University baseball team split a pair of games on Saturday at Linda K. Epling Stadium.

Off to one of the best starts in program history, the Spartans (5-1) defeated Denison University (0-1) by a score of 12-7 in the early afternoon then fell in a tight, 3-2 contest to No. 15 nationally ranked Marietta College (2-0) during the evening.

Versus the Big Red, the Spartans got off to their usual fast start with four runs in the top of the first. Swisher provided the key hit in the frame with a two-run single to center. The Big Red scored twice in the third, but the Spartans erased those tallies with two of their own in the fourth when Swisher homered down the left field line.

A Swisher RBI triple made the score 7-2 in the top of the fifth, and an RBI double by junior third baseman Andrew Gronski (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Davidson) put the score at 8-3 in the top of the sixth. 

During the bottom of the sixth, Denison rallied with a four-run inning highlighted by a two-run single from Brandon Morgan. However, with two on and two out, junior second baseman Kerrigan Cain (Hartville, Ohio/Archbishop Hoban) showed his range with a fine diving stop of a liner up the middle before popping up and firing a strike to first base to end the threat.

With the score at 8-7, Cain once again made an impact in the field when he turned a 4-3 double play to end the Denison seventh. In the eighth, CWRU put the game away when senior shortstop Andrew Frey (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) deposited a grandslam over the left field wall.

On the mound, junior Kevin Johnstone (Placentia, Calif./Valencia) picked up his first win of 2014 with six innings pitched and six strikeouts. Junior closer Dan Sondag (Cary, N.C./Green Hope) recorded his second save with a career-high 2 2/3 innings pitched. Sondag, who induced the inning-ending double play in the seventh, struck out a pair.

For the game, the Spartans pounded out 16 base hits. Swisher was a perfect 3-for-3 with a career-high five RBI. The third-year catcher finished just a double shy of the cycle and was hit by pitch in each of his last two plate appearances. Gronski was 3-for-5 with a double, a triple and an RBI. Frey was 1-for-3 with a career-high five RBI, and sophomore first baseman Zack Tobias (Pittsburgh, Pa./Upper St. Clair) went 3-for-5 with two runs scored.

Kyle Colgain took the loss on the mound for Denison with five innings pitched. Charlie Apfelbach was 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI.

Versus the Pioneers, the Spartans scored once in the second when senior rightfielder Jordan Dague (Barberton, Ohio/Barberton) reached on a fielder's choice to plate Cain. Dague added his second RBI with a single in the fourth to make the score 2-0, but Marietta would answer with a pair in the bottom of the sixth thanks to a Mitch Geers RBI single and Tim McCoy RBI groundout.

The next two innings went scoreless before the Pioneers scored the winning run on a sacrifice fly by McCoy.

For the game, the Spartans left 12 runners on base. Swisher finished 2-for-4 with a double, while Tobias walked a career-high three times.

Senior John Fortunato (Toledo, Ohio/St. Francis de Sales) was solid on the mound but took the no decision. In seven innings, the left-hander allowed two earned runs on just two hits with three strikeouts. Freshman Jake Shields (Hamilton, Ohio/Ross Senior) was saddled with the loss in relief to fall to 1-1.

Zach Janus (1-0) threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings of relief to earn the win for Marietta.

The Pioneers totaled just three hits in the game.

The Spartans and Pioneers will duke it out twice more tomorrow with a doubleheader at Epling Stadium slated to begin at 11:00 a.m.