Spartans Suffer First Loss at UAA Baseball Championship, 3-2 to Rochester

photo by Laurie Dague
photo by Laurie Dague

SANFORD, Fla. - The Case Western Reserve University baseball team suffered its first loss at the 2014 University Athletic Association Championship by a score of 3-2 to the University of Rochester (N.Y.) on Thursday evening at Sanford Memorial Stadium.  

The Spartans (10-2, 5-1 UAA) see a five-game win streak snapped and fall into a tie for first place in the UAA standings with Emory University (Ga.). Each team has one game remaining before playing each other in the finale on Saturday, March 15. 

Despite the loss, junior third baseman Andrew Gronski (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Davidson) went 3-for-4 with a walk and an RBI to bump his season average to .618 (32-of-52). The high-powered Spartan offense, which had been averaging 11.2 runs per game, left 11 runners on base. 

The Yellowjackets (1-5, 1-5 UAA) pick up their first win of 2014 behind 6 2/3 shutout innings from sophomore right-hander Dan Warren. 

The Spartans had a pair of unsuccessful scoring threats in the first four innings, the second of which was foiled when Gronski was thrown out at home one at-bat after tripling to right field. Rochester then grabbed a 2-0 lead in the fifth with RBI singles from Brian Munoz and Josh Ludwig.  

The next inning saw another Spartan threat come up empty as Gronski and senior shortstop Andrew Frey (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) were stranded at second and third after reaching with less than two out. A Yellowjacket fielding error in the top of the seventh left the door open to another Spartan threat. But, the bases were left loaded on a two-out groundout. Rochester then added what turned out to be a crucial insurance score in the bottom of the frame via an Ethan Sander RBI single. 

With two out in the ninth, Gronski provided an RBI single. Frey then hit an RBI single of his own to left but was thrown out stretching at second base to end the game. 

On the mound, Spartan junior Kevin Johnstone (Placentia, Calif./Valencia) had his best outing of the season with five strikeouts and two earned runs allowed in five innings. 

Warren struck out eight against five hits and three walks. Josh Schulman, who induced the bases-loaded groundout in the seventh, threw the final 2 1/3 innings for the save. 

The Spartans play Washington University in St. Louis for the second time this week tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 p.m. CWRU beat the Bears on Wednesday, 13-8.