CWRU Baseball Splits during Opening Day of Play at Chillicothe

CWRU Baseball Splits during Opening Day of Play at Chillicothe

The Case Western Reserve University baseball team picked up its first win of the 2016 campaign on Saturday, defeating Manchester University 19-12 in Chillicothe, Ohio.  The Spartans later followed with a 3-2 loss to nationally 12th-ranked Heidelberg University.

With the split, CWRU now stands at 1-4 on the season, while Heidelberg and Manchester each ended the day with 1-1 records.

Game 1: CWRU 19, Manchester 12
The Spartan's bats exploded for 19 runs on 21 hits in the first game of the day, en route to their first win of the 2016 campaign.  It marked CWRU's highest run total in a game since a 23-11 win over Guilford on February 22, 2014

The Spartans got off to a quick start offensively in the first game, scoring four runs on five hits in the first inning.  Junior centerfielder Aaron Cain started the rally with a one-out double, and scored on an RBI single from freshman Rocco Maue a batter later.  After junior catcher Eric Eldred doubled to put a pair of runners in scoring position, freshman designated hitter Tyler Wypiszenski singled to drive in Maue, and freshman Mike Najmowicz hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield to score Eldred, and push the lead to 3-0.  Sophomore first baseman Daniel Watson rounded out the scoring in the first with a run-scoring base hit, giving CWRU a 4-0 lead after half an inning.

CWRU added four more in the top of the second and three in the third to jump out to an 11-0 advantage.  A solo home run by Najmowicz and an RBI pinch hit triple for Tyler Schovanec in the fourth pushed the Spartans' lead to 13-0 after four.

Meanwhile, on the mound junior Jake Shields turned in a solid start, pitching five shutout innings and allowing just three hits without walking a batter, and striking out a pair.

Manchester pulled closer in the game with a six-run sixth that trimmed the CWRU lead to 14-6, before a three-run burst in the seventh (keyed by a two-RBI double from sophomore second baseman Alex Capetillo) gave the Spartans a 17-6 lead.  Manchester added four in the seventh and two in the eighth, but a pair in the ninth by CWRU, and a perfect bottom of the inning pitched by senior Lee Penzarella helped to lockup the win.

Maue went four-for-four in the game with a pair of RBIs, while Watson added a three-for-five performance at the plate with three runs scored and four stolen bases.  Najmowicz, Cain and Capetillo each drove in three runs during the game as well.

Shield picked up the win to improve to 1-0 on the year, while the loss went to Manchester starter Brandon Eck, who dropped to 0-1.

Game 2: #12/18 Heidelberg 3, CWRU 2
The second game of the day was a stark contrast to the first one, as the Spartans had trouble getting their offense on track against Heidelberg.  Maue would single in the first inning and later steal second, but Case Western Reserve would not get another hit until the ninth inning.

Heidelberg would score a pair of runs in the second and another in the third off freshman starter Mark Gross, who pitched well otherwise, scattering seven hits and walking a pair, while striking out six batters.  Sophomore Nate Glasser added a scoreless inning of relief work in the seventh, as did senior Connor Tagg in the eighth. 

Junior Josh Neal led the ninth off with a single, the team's first hit since the first inning, and Cain followed with a ground ball to first that was bobbled by the Heidelberg first baseman, and thrown away by the second baseman, allowing the runners to advance to second and third and brining the game-tying run to the plate with no outs, and the heart of the order due up.  After a strikeout, a wild pitch plated the first run of the game for the Spartans, and Eldred followed with a sacrifice fly to cut the deficit to 3-2 with two outs, but a strikeout ended the Spartans' threat, and clinched the game for the Student Princes.

Heidelberg starter Steve Huber went the distance, allowing two hits and two walks, and striking out 10 for the win.  Gross would be handed the tough-luck loss in the game, falling to 0-2 on the year.

The Spartans will wrap-up their weekend's slate of games in Chillicothe on Sunday, when the team faces Manchester at 11:00 a.m. and Heidelberg at 2:00 p.m.