The Case Western Reserve University baseball team opened a home weekend series against the University of Chicago with a sweep of a doubleheader, winning the first game 7-5 and the second contest 7-1 at Nobby's Ballpark in Cleveland, Ohio on Saturday afternoon.
It was the third doubleheader sweep of the season for the Spartans, who have now won 17 of their last 22 games to improve to 19-14 overall for the season. The Maroons dropped to 17-8 overall with the two losses on Saturday.
The Spartans outhit Chicago 21-16 in the two games, led by a four-for-eight day at the plate from sophomore third baseman Jacob Kucia, three RBIs from freshman first baseman Casey McConihe, and four RBIs and a home run from junior designated hitter Dan Watson. The CWRU pitching staff held Chicago, which entered the game with an NCAA Division III leading .367 batting average, to a .242 clip over the two games, including a complete-game six hitter from senior Jake Shields in game two.
Game 1: CWRU 7, Chicago 5
Senior center fielder Aaron Cain went three-for-five with an RBI and McConihe added a two-for-three game at the plate with three RBIs, as CWRU bested Chicago 7-5 in the first game of the day.
Trailing 2-0 heading into the bottom of the third, the Spartans loaded the bases on a two-out error in the frame, and McConihe followed with a game-tying two RBI single up the middle. Chicago regained the lead with an unearned run off CWRU sophomore starter Mark Gross in the top of the fourth, but a single by junior second baseman Alex Capetillo drove in McConihe in the sixth, tying the game at 3-3. The Spartans took the lead on a balk with two outs that scored Kucia, and an RBI single by Cain drove in sophomore shortstop Rocco Maue and extended the lead to 5-3.
In the seventh, an RBI groundout by McConihe and a run-scoring error put the Spartans in front by four runs, 7-3. Chicago scored a pair in the top of the ninth off the CWRU bullpen, but junior Liam Killingstad was able to record the final three outs for his team-leading fourth save of the season.
Gross pitched well in the no-decision, allowing just two earned runs and three total on eight hits and four walks with one strike out, leaving the game with one out in the sixth and trailing 3-2. Sophomore Corey Brown entered the game, retiring the next two batters with a runner on second to get out of the sixth, and proceeded to pitch two more scoreless innings, en route to earning the win to improve to 2-1 on the season.
CWRU handed Chicago starter Brenton Villasenor his first loss of the season, as the sophomore fell to 5-1 for the year.
Game 2: CWRU 7, Chicago 1
Shields recorded his third complete-game win in his last four starts, moving one victory away from the program's career record, and leading the Spartans to a 7-1 win in game two against the Maroons.
Shields allowed just one unearned run on six hits over the nine-inning complete game, striking out four without walking a batter. He has now not allowed an earned run in his last 35.1 innings on the mound (just two runs total allowed during the stretch), lowering his ERA to 2.78 for the season. With the win, he improved to 5-3 for the season and to 23-10 for his career, moving him just a win away from Jamie Hora's CWRU career record of 24.
Shields battled early on with Chicago's freshman starter Nate Hendley, who allowed just one base runner through the first four innings, and did not yield a hit to the Spartans until the fifth, when sophomore catcher Tyler Wypiszenski led the frame off with a double, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and scored on an RBI single by Watson.
The score remained 1-0 until the top of the eighth, when an error put the potential tying run on base for Chicago. With two outs in the inning, a base hit by Ian Bohn scored Justin Lo from third, knotting the score at 1-1.
However, the Spartans responded in the bottom of the frame, scoring six runs in the inning to secure the lead. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases for Wypiszenski, who followed with a base hit to put CWRU back on top, and a wild pitch scored another run a batter later. Then, Watson launched a three-run home run over the wall in left field, putting CWRU ahead 6-1. A RBI single later in the inning for Capetillo capped off the scoring on Saturday for the Spartans.
Shields retired the side in order in the ninth to close out the complete-game win, his third of the season.
The Spartans outhit Chicago 11-6 in the second game, including three-for-four games from both Wypiszenski and Kucia.
Chicago reliever Patrick Rogers took the loss to fall to 0-1 on the season.
The Spartans and the Maroons will conclude their series on Sunday with a doubleheader starting at noon at Nobby's Ballpark in Cleveland.