SANFORD, Fla. – Junior leftfielder Will Meador (Columbus, Ohio/Worthington Kilbourne) hit a walk-off two-run double as the Case Western Reserve University baseball team rallied from five runs down to beat Brandeis University (Mass.), 9-8, on the opening day of the 2014 University Athletic Association Championship at Sanford Memorial Stadium.
The defending UAA Champion Spartans (6-1, 1-0 UAA) trailed 8-3 after seven innings but scored four in the eighth and two in the ninth. The Judges (4-3, 0-1 UAA) scored at least once in each of the first seven innings but were unable to withstand the Spartan rally.
Meador's only hit in the game was the decisive two-out double off of the left field wall that plated senior rightfielder Jordan Dague (Barberton, Ohio/Barberton) and junior second baseman Kerrigan Cain (Hartville, Ohio/Archbishop Hoban).
Also with a big day at the plate, sophomore designated hitter Noah Sherman (Kensington, Md./Georgetown Preparatory) matched a career high in hits with a 4-for-5, two-RBI effort. Sherman's RBI single in the eighth capped a four-run inning that was sparked by a two-run homer from Dague.
Senior pitcher Ray Kelly (Rochester, N.Y./Aquinas Institute) moved to 2-0 for the season with a scoreless ninth inning of relief. The key moment in the frame came when senior shortstop Andrew Frey (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) threw out a potential ninth Brandeis run at home.
Brandeis got on the board in the top of the first with a Tom McCarthy two-out RBI single. In the bottom of the frame, the Spartans pieced together a two-out rally of their own with four hits in a row that led to a pair of scores. Junior third baseman Andrew Gronski (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Davidson) doubled to get the ball rolling, while Sherman and Frey each provided RBI singles.
The second inning started in similar fashion with the Judges tying the game on a two-out RBI single by Liam O'Connor, but the Spartans were retired quickly in their half of the frame to leave the score knotted at two.
Brandeis scored the go-ahead run in the third on a groundout by Dan Gad then added one in the fourth, two in the fifth, one in the sixth and one in the seventh. The Spartans loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the sixth but were only able to get one runner home on a groundout.
Down 8-3, the Spartans pulled to within 8-5 when Dague went deep to left for his first career homer. Later in the inning, Gronski drove in one with a groundout, and Sherman brought home another with a single.
Frey's clutch defensive play in the top of the ninth set the stage for the walk-off in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Cain slashed a double down the left field line. Dague followed with a walk and both runners moved up a base on a grounder. Meador then ripped a 1-1 pitch over the head of the Brandeis leftfielder.
Reliever Liam Coughlin (0-1) took the loss on the mound for the Judges. Starter Kyle Brenner battled his way through the first 7 2/3 innings.
For the game, Brandeis totaled 13 hits. Brian Ing was 3-for-3 with two walks and an RBI double.
Cain finished at 3-for-4 for the evening for the Spartans, while Dague was 2-for-3 with a walk.
In addition to Kelly, three other Spartans threw in relief, including freshman Andrew Rossman (North Royalton, Ohio/North Royalton), who didn't surrender an earned run in 2 1/3 innings of work.
The Spartans continue UAA Championship action tomorrow (Monday, March 10) versus Emory University (Ga.) at 1:00 p.m.