The Case Western Reserve University baseball team suffered a 7-6 loss to Washington and Jefferson College in the first of two games on Saturday afternoon in Washington, Pennsylvania, but responded with a 6-1 win over Allegheny College behind a complete-game effort from sophomore Mark Gross for the team's first win of the 2017 campaign.
In addition to Gross' complete-game win, the first of his career, freshman designated hitter Noah Mehrle drove in five runs during the two games to lead the way for the Spartans, who now stand at 1-4 overall on the season.
Game 1: Washington & Jefferson 7, CWRU 6
Mehrle went three-for-five with a double and three runs batted in, but four errors late in the game cost the Spartans in a 7-6 setback to host Washington and Jefferson in their opening game of the day.
CWRU scored their six runs on 11 hits, a high on the young season for the team so far, while holding Washington and Jefferson, which received votes in the latest D3baseball.com poll, to just six hits in the game.
The Spartans got on the board first in the game, when senior catcher Eric Eldred drove in sophomore third baseman Jacob Kucia with a base hit. Senior starting pitcher Jake Shields did not allow a hit until the bottom of the third, but a leadoff walk in the inning, followed by a two-out double and a single, scoring a pair of runs and gave the Presidents the lead.
The score remained 2-1 until the top of the fifth, when junior first baseman Dan Watson and Merle each drove in runs with back-to-back hits to put the Spartans back in front, 3-2. Case Western Reserve extended its lead in the top of the seventh with a two-RBI double from Merle, and an RBI groundout off the bat of junior second baseman Alex Capetillo. However, the Spartans were hurt by two catcher's interference calls, in addition to a third error, in the bottom of the seventh inning, costing the team four unearned runs, as the Presidents tied the game at 6-6 heading into the eighth. An inning later, Washington & Jefferson regained the lead on a sacrifice fly. Trailing 7-6 in with two outs in the ninth, Kucia drew a walk to put the tying run on base, but a fly out a batter later ended the game.
Shields allowed just two runs on four hits, while striking out five batters in six innings of work, receiving a no-decision in his second start of the year. Junior Nate Glasser allowed just one unearned run in an inning of relief, but was saddled with the loss nonetheless, falling to 0-1 on the year. Santino Platt pitched the final two innings and earned the win in relief for the Presidents, improving to 1-0.
The game was the first of the season for Washington and Jefferson, as the team improved to 1-0 on the year.
Game 2: CWRU 6, Allegheny 1
Gross did not allow an earned run en route to the complete-game win, and Mehrle drove in the eventual game-winning runs with a sixth inning double, to lift the Spartans to a 6-1 win over Allegheny College in Saturday's late game.
After two scoreless innings, back-to-back triples with two outs in the third by senior outfielders Josh Neal and Aaron Cain brought across the first run of the day, giving CWRU a 1-0 advantage. The Spartans remained up a run until the bottom of the fifth, when Allegheny tied the game after Patrick Orr crossed the plate with two outs on a rundown that Ethan Pawlak was eventually called out on.
The Spartans regained the lead in the sixth inning, as Mehrle again came up with a big hit for CWRU. With two on and one out in the inning, Mehrle double down the left field line, driving in a pair of runs and putting CWRU out in front 3-1. In the seventh inning, sophomore shortstop Rocco Maue scored on a throwing error in the seventh, while senior outfielder Tony Damiano and freshman pinch hitter Casey McConihe each drove in runs as well, extending the CWRU lead to 6-1.
The five runs in the sixth and seventh innings would give Gross, now 1-1 on the year, more than enough offensive support for the day. He allowed just four hits and three walks in the contest, while striking out seven batters in the game, needed 124 pitches to navigate his way through the Gators' lineup. Gross lowered his ERA to 2.57 with Saturday's effort.
Nate Pastorek took the loss in relief for Allegheny, falling to 0-1 on the year. The Gators dropped to 2-2 on the campaign with the setback.
After Saturday's performance, Mehrle is now batting a team-high .429, and leads all CWRU players with five RBIs and three doubles this season.
The Spartans will wrap-up their weekend in Washington tomorrow, when the team faces Washington and Jefferson for the second time at noon on Sunday.