Frey and Gronski Lead Offensive Onslaught, No. 24 Spartans Pick Up Two More Wins at UAA Baseball Championship

Andrew Gronski finished the day 6-for-9 with a homer, six runs scored and four RBI. (photo by Laurie Dague)
Andrew Gronski finished the day 6-for-9 with a homer, six runs scored and four RBI. (photo by Laurie Dague)

SANFORD, Fla. - Senior shortstop Andrew Frey (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) and junior third baseman Andrew Gronski (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Davidson) led an offensive onslaught as the No. 24 nationally ranked Case Western Reserve University baseball team moved to 5-0 at the University Athletic Association Championship at Sanford Memorial Stadium. 

The defending UAA Champion Spartans (10-1) beat Brandeis University (Mass.), 16-6 in eight innings, and Washington University in St. Louis, 13-8. CWRU remains in first place in the UAA standings ahead of 3-1 Emory University (Ga.). 

Frey finished the day at 7-for-11 with a homer and seven RBI. He ran his season totals to four HRs and 21 RBI. 

Gronski, one of the nation's hottest hitters, went 6-for-9 with a homer, six runs scored and four RBI. He is now batting .608 (31-of-51) with four HRs and 20 RBI. 

As a team, the Spartans are averaging 11.2 runs per game with 16 "long balls" this season. 

The start of the day was delayed for two hours due to morning rain, and the Brandeis game saw an additional weather stoppage.

Versus the Judges (5-4, 1-3 UAA), the Spartans employed a younger lineup with a doubleheader on tap. One of those youngsters, freshman outfielder Josh Neal (Gaithersburg, Md./St. John's College), highlighted his first career start with a two-run double to left to open the scoring in the top of the second. Several batters later, Neal came around to score on a single by junior outfielder Will Meador (Columbus, Ohio/Worthington Kilbourne). With runners at the corners, Gronski then stepped to the plate and connected for a three-run homer to right. 

The Judges cut their deficit in half in the bottom of the inning with an RBI single by Connor Doyle and a two-run single by Brian Ing, but Spartan freshman starter Connor Faix (Brunswick, Ohio/St. Edward) was able to limit the damage. 

The Spartans added two more runs in the fourth when Gronski walked in front of a two-run homer to left by Frey. A heavy downpour followed in the bottom of the inning and caused a 30-minute delay.

In the fifth, CWRU tacked on three runs, one of which came on a Gronski triple to center. The Judges came back with two scores of their own in the bottom of the frame, but the Spartans blew the game open with three in the seventh and two more in the eighth to invoke the varsity run rule. 

Gronski finished 3-for-4 with four RBI, two walks and four runs scored. He was just a double shy of hitting for the cycle for the second time this season. 

Frey and sophomore outfielder Marques Winick (Naperville, Ill./Naperville North) also had huge games at the plate. Frey went 4-for-6 with a homer and a career high-tying five RBI. Winick collected a career-high four hits in five at-bats and drove in two with a triple and a pair of doubles. 

On the mound, Faix worked five innings for his first collegiate win. The right-hander surrendered two earned runs and struck out a pair. Junior Eddie Abramson (Maitland, Fla./Winter Park), who is still working his way back from surgery last year, pitched two scoreless frames in relief. 

Anthony Nomakeo (1-2) took the loss on the mound for Brandeis. Dominic Schwartz went 3-for-4 to lead the Judges at the plate. 

Against Washington-St. Louis (3-6, 2-3 UAA), the Spartans picked up right where they left off, scoring four times in the first. Frey provided a two-run single, and freshman outfielder Aaron Cain (Hartville, Ohio/Archbishop Hoban) drove in the fourth run with a single. 

The second inning followed suit with four more Spartan runs on a two-run single by junior second baseman Kerrigan Cain (Hartville, Ohio/Archbishop Hoban) and a two-run double by sophomore designated hitter Noah Sherman (Kensington, Md./Georgetown Preparatory). 

Things got interesting from there as the Bears scored twice in the fifth and four times in the sixth. Brandon Deger provided an RBI double in the sixth before the next three scored on two wild pitches and a walk. 

However, senior reliever Ray Kelly (Rochester, N.Y./Aquinas Institute) was able to dance out of trouble with a bases-loaded strikeout. The Spartan offense then regained control with four runs in the bottom of the inning. Sherman drove in one more with a single, and senior rightfielder Jordan Dague (Barberton, Ohio/Barberton) hit a two-run double. 

The Bears picked up two more runs in the top of the seventh thanks to a walk and an error, but Kelly once again got out of a bases-loaded jam with a strikeout to keep the score at 12-8. 

Freshman Jake Shields (Hamilton, Ohio/Ross Senior) improved to 2-1 with six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings pitched. Kelly wound up logging 2 1/3 innings, and freshman Preston Williams (Houston, Texas/Second Baptist) recorded a scoreless ninth. 

Offensively, Gronski and Frey were each 3-for-5, and the latter drove in two more runs. Kerrigan Cain was also 3-for-5 with three runs and two RBI, while Sherman finished 2-for-5 with four RBI. 

Deger finished the game 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs for the Bears. Dom Quaranta (0-3) lasted only one inning on the mound. 

The Spartans have three more games remaining in Florida over the next three days. Tomorrow (Thursday, March 13), CWRU takes on the University of Rochester (N.Y.) at 5:00 p.m.