GRANVILLE, OH – Junior reliever Connor Tagg (Springfield, VA/West Springfield) was the winning pitcher and senior closer Dan Sondag (Cary, NC/Green Hope) earned the save in both games of the Case Western Reserve baseball team's doubleheader sweep of Denison University. The Spartans came back to win the opener 9-7 and followed that with an 8-5 victory in the nightcap.
The Spartans scored five runs with two outs in the seventh inning to turn a three-run deficit into a 7-5 lead in the first game. After the first two hitters struck out, senior second baseman Kerrigan Cain (Hartville, OH/Archbishop Hoban) singled and senior designated hitter Jordan Swisher (Pittsford, NY/Pittsford Sutherland) walked. Sophomore catcher Eric Eldred (Tecumseh, MI/Tecumseh) doubled to left field to score both runners and pull CWRU within one run.
Sophomore leftfielder Josh Neal (Gaithersburg, MD/St. John's College) singled up the middle and stole second base so the Tigers intentionally walked sophomore centerfielder Aaron Cain (Hartville, OH/Archbishop Hoban) to load the bases. Freshman shortstop Danny Souza (Hollister, CA/Palma) walked on a 3-2 pitch to tie the game. An infield single by sophomore Antonio Damiano (Naples, FL/Gulf Coast) and a passed ball plated two more runs, giving the Spartans a two-run lead.
Senior third baseman Andrew Gronski (Hilliard, OH/Hilliard Davidson) doubled to lead off the eighth inning, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Kerrigan Cain and scored on a sacrifice fly by Eldred to make it 8-5. After the Big Red cut the lead to one run, Damiano walked, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Steve Dayton (Allison Park, PA/Hampton), and scored on a Gronski double.
Sondag struck out the side in order in the ninth inning and threw two innings of scoreless relief to earn his fifth save of the season. Five of the six outs he recorded were by strikeout. Tagg threw a scoreless seventh inning to earn the victory and move to 2-1 this season.
Eldred finished 2-for-3 with a run scored and four runs batted in, while Damiano and Gronski each drove in a pair of runs. Kerrigan Cain and Swisher both scored twice.
In the second game, the Spartans again put together a big inning after the first two batters were retired, scoring four times in the fourth to take a 5-1 lead. With two outs, Eldred was hit by a pitch and stole second base. Neal's infield single and stolen base put runners at second and third. Aaron Cain walked to load the bases to set up a two-run single by Souza and another run-scoring single by Damiano. A walk to senior Will Meador (Columbus, OH/Worthington Kilbourne) and Gronski being hit by a pitch scored the fourth CWRU run of the inning.
The Big Red scored once in the fourth inning and twice in the fifth to cut the lead to one run, but Souza gunned down the potential tying run at the plate.
The Spartans stretched the lead back to four when they scored three runs without a hit in the seventh inning. Gronski, Kerrigan Cain, and Swisher all walked and eventually scored in a half-inning that included five walks, three wild pitches, and a passed ball. Gronski and Cain each scored on wild pitches before Swisher came home on a sacrifice fly from Aaron Cain.
The Big Red loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth inning, but senior pitcher Kevin Johnstone (Placentia, CA/Valencia) induced a double play and then a fly out to limit the Denison threat to one run.
Tagg pitched 1.2 innings of scoreless relief to earn his second win of the day and third of the season. Johnstone yielded just the one run in two innings in his first relief appearance of the season and Sondag tossed a scoreless ninth inning with two more strikeouts for his second save of the day and sixth of the season.
Neal went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, Souza finished 2-for-3 with a run scored and two runs batted in, and Damiano contributed two hits and one RBI in the second game.
The final three innings of the game also included snow, rain, sleet, and even pollen.
The Spartans, who won their third consecutive game to improve to 8-7, return home to face Baldwin Wallace University Tuesday at 4 p.m.