No. 23 Spartan Baseball Opens Weekend Series with Two Wins at OWU

Kerrigan Cain (photo by Laurie Dague)
Kerrigan Cain (photo by Laurie Dague)

DELAWARE, Ohio – Junior catcher Jordan Swisher (Pittsford, N.Y./Pittsford Sutherland) and junior second baseman Kerrigan Cain (Hartville, Ohio/Archbishop Hoban) collected five hits apiece as the No. 23 nationally ranked Case Western Reserve University baseball team swept Ohio Wesleyan University on Saturday to open a four-game weekend series at Littick Field.

The Spartans (13-3) defeated the Battling Bishops (5-6) by scores of 6-3 and 13-8 as the two will play twice more tomorrow beginning at 12:00 p.m. Ranked 23rd in the nation by D3Baseball.com, CWRU continues to add to the best start in program history.

Swisher's 5-for-8 day included three doubles, five RBI and three runs scored. Cain also finished the two games 5-for-8 with two RBI and four runs scored.  

In game one, the Spartans scored single tallies in four-straight innings from the second to the fifth. Swisher drove in a pair with an infield single in the second and a double in the fourth, while sophomore first baseman Zack Tobias (Pittsburgh, Pa./Upper St. Clair) hit a solo homer to left in the fifth. OWU picked up runs in the third, fourth and fifth with two RBI coming from Aaron Caputo on a single and a groundout. After a scoreless sixth, CWRU went ahead 6-3 with a two-out, two-run single to right off of the bat of Cain.

On the mound, senior lefty John Fortunato (Toledo, Ohio/St. Francis de Sales) improved to 3-0 for the season with two earned runs allowed in five innings. Junior Rob Winemiller (Twinsburg, Ohio/University School) struck out a pair in two scoreless innings for his first career save. 

For the game, Cain was 2-for-3 with a run and two RBI. Swisher finished 2-for-4 with two RBI. 

Charles Cooper (2-2) suffered the loss for the Battling Bishops with five earned runs surrendered in 6 2/3 innings. Justin Dages was 2-for-3 at the plate. 

Game two saw a quick start for the Spartan offense as junior third baseman Andrew Gronski (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Davidson) hit a two-run homer to center, his fifth long ball of the year. OWU quickly answered in their half of the frame with a two-out, two-run single by Tyler Flaherty.

After two scoreless frames, the Spartans picked up a single run in the fourth then four more in the fifth. An RBI single by senior shortstop Andrew Frey (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) got the ball rolling in the fifth before freshman outfielder Antonio Damiano (Naples, Fla./Gulf Coast) drove in two with a single. Freshman outfielder Aaron Cain (Hartville, Ohio/Archbishop Hoban), who hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth, capped the scoring with an RBI single that plated Damiano.

The Battling Bishops came back with two in the bottom of the inning, but the Spartans moved ahead 10-4 with three in the sixth. Frey, Swisher and Damiano each brought home a run. OWU then made things interesting with four runs of their own in the bottom of the sixth as Caputo and Flaherty each had RBI doubles.

With two out and the bases loaded, however, Spartan sophomore Connor Tagg (Springfield, Va./West Springfield) came out of the bullpen with a key strikeout. The CWRU offense then kept the momentum going with three runs in the eighth as Swisher doubled home two and Aaron Cain singled in another.

Junior pitcher Kevin Johstone (Placentia, Calif./Valencia) struck out a career-high nine batters over 5 2/3 innings to move to 2-1. Tagg was stellar in relief with three strikeouts in two scoreless innings.

Offensively, Swisher and Damiano were each 3-for-4 with three RBI as the Spartans totaled 16 hits. Damiano also stole two bases.

For the Bishops, Peter Munger took the loss in 4 2/3 innings pitched. Flaherty finished 2-for-3 with three RBI.

Following tomorrow's doubleheader, the Spartans are back in action with another road twinbill at regional-rival Heidelberg University on Wednesday, March 26 at 1:00 p.m. in Tiffin.