Spartans Swept by #3 SUNY Cortland in Saturday Doubleheader

Spartans Swept by #3 SUNY Cortland in Saturday Doubleheader

The Case Western Reserve University baseball team dropped both games of a neutral-site doubleheader on Saturday afternoon against nationally third-ranked SUNY Cortland, falling 5-4 to the Red Dragons in the early game, before suffering a 12-6 loss in the late contest in Bridgewater, Virginia.

With the two losses, Case Western Reserve saw its record fall to 1-7 on the year, while SUNY Cortland improved to 8-2 overall.  All seven of the Spartans losses this season have come against teams either nationally ranked or receiving votes in the D3baseball.com poll, including five of the seven against teams currently ranked in the top-three in the latest poll.

Game 1: SUNY Cortland 5, CWRU 4
A ninth inning rally for the Spartans fell short in the first game of the doubleheader, as the Spartans suffered a 5-4 loss in the opening game of the day.

Case Western Reserve took the early lead in the game on a single by freshman Noah Mehrle that scored senior Aaron Cain from second base with two outs.  The Spartans extended their advantage in the third without a hit, after sophomore Rocco Maue reached on an error, stole second, advanced to third on a ground out, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Cain.

Senior pitcher Jake Shields started for the Spartans and held the Red Dragons scoreless until the bottom of the fourth.  With two outs in the inning and two on, SUNY Cortland's Nate Budge homered over the left field wall, putting his team in front 3-2.  The Red Dragons added two more runs on in the fifth on a sacrifice fly and an RBI single.

Shields would hold SUNY Cortland scoreless the rest of the way, finishing the game with five runs allowed on six hits and three walks over seven innings, while striking out seven batters.  Sophomore Corey Brown added a scoreless eighth inning, keeping the Spartans within three runs headed into the ninth.

Mehrle and junior Dan Watson opened the top of the ninth with back-to-back hits and advanced into scoring position on a ground out.  Sophomore Mike Najmowicz followed with an RBI single to cut the lead to 5-3, and after a fly out, Maue singled to center to plate Watson, and bring the Spartans back within a run and move the potential game-tying run into scoring position.  However, a groundout in the next at bat ended the game, securing the win for SUNY Cortland.

Shields took the loss for the Spartans to fall to 0-2 on the year.  Starter Jeff Cooke earned the win in the game for the Red Dragons, improving to 2-1, while Payten Boice pitched the final three innings for SUNY Cortland to pick up his second save of the campaign.

Case Western Reserve outhit SUNY Cortland 9-7 in the game, including a pair of hits each from senior Josh Neal, Mehrle and Watson.  The contest also marked the first error-free game of the season for the Spartans.

Game 2: SUNY Cortland 12, CWRU 6
Junior Tony Damiano went three-for-five with a double and Watson and junior Danny Souza each drove in a pair of runs, but the Spartans were unable to avoid the sweep with a 12-6 loss to SUNY Cortland in game two.

SUNY Cortland broke a scoreless tie with a six-run fourth inning, capping off the scoring in the frame with a three-run home run by Marcos Perivolaris.  The Spartans got a run back in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI groundout by Najmowicz, but Cortland added three in the top of the fifth and two in the sixth to take an 11-1 lead on CWRU.

The Spartans cut into the Cortland lead with a four-run bottom of the eighth, scoring a pair on a single by Watson and two more on a triple by Souza, before the Red Dragons scored in the top of the ninth to go back up by seven, 12-5.  A one-out RBI double by sophomore Jacob Kucia trimmed the deficit to six, but Cortland retired the next two batters to end the game.

Watson finished the game two-for-three with a double and two stolen bases.  Kucia added a pair of hits as well in the late contest.

Sophomore starter Mark Gross pitched the first four innings and took the loss for CWRU to fall to 1-2 on the season, while Alex Weingarten improved to 2-0 with the win for SUNY Cortland.

The Spartans are scheduled to continue their Spring Break trip tomorrow, facing the University of Mary Washington Eagles at 2:00 p.m. in Fredericksburg, Virginia.