The Case Western Reserve University baseball team finished its 2017 regular season with a sweep of a doubleheader at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio on Sunday, topping the Yellow Jackets 8-5 in the early game, and collecting another 8-5 win in the second game behind a home run in extra innings from senior catcher Eric Eldred.
With the two wins on Sunday, the Spartans wrapped up their regular season with a 24-16 record, marking the team's eighth-straight season of 24 or more wins. Baldwin Wallace dropped to 22-17 with the two losses.
Game 1: CWRU 8, Baldwin Wallace 5
The Spartans collected 15 hits in the early game, including solo home runs from sophomore catcher Tyler Wypiszenski and sophomore center fielder Jacob Pestel, to defeat the Yellow Jackets 8-5 in the early game on Sunday.
Wypiszenski led the team at the plate, going three-for-four with a double, his third home run of the season, two runs scored and an RBI, while junior left fielder Dan Watson added a pair of RBIs on a triple. Sophomore third baseman Jacob Kucia, freshman designated hitter Chris Shorter, sophomore shortstop Rocco Maue and senior Josh Neal each had two hits apiece in the game as well.
On the mound, sophomore Mark Gross started and allowed just one unearned run on four hits and two walks, while stiking out four batters during his seven innings of work. He lowered his earned run average to 2.93, while raising his record to 4-4 with the victory.
Wypsizenski gave CWRU the lead with a solo home run to lead off the top of the fourth inning, and after Baldwin Wallace tied the game on a squeeze bunt in the bottom of the frame, Pestel homered over the leftfield wall with two outs in the sixth to give the Spartans a 2-1 advantage. It not only marked the first home run of Pestel's career, but also his first hit, coming in his first career start.
The Spartans would never trail again, scoring five runs in the top of the seventh on a two RBI triple by Watson, and RBI singles for freshman first baseman Casey McConihe, Maue and Neal. Freshman right fielder Noah Mehrle added a run-scoring single in the eighth to push the CWRU lead to 8-1.
Baldwin Wallace scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth off the Spartans' bullpen to cut the lead to 8-5, but freshman Scott Kutschke was able to get the final two outs of the eighth, and then sit down the side in order in the ninth to secure the win and pick up his fourth save of the year.
Evan Lovick started and took the loss for Baldwin Wallace, dropping to 8-2 on the year.
Game 2: CWRU 8, Baldwin Wallace 5
In what could have been last at bat of his college career, Eldred hit a go-ahead three-run home run in the top of the 10th inning to lift the Spartans to an 8-5 win in the second game of the day, and a doubleheader sweep of Baldwin Wallace.
Eldred led the team at the plate, going one-for-three with two runs, four RBIs and a walk. Senior center fielder Aaron Cain, senior right fielder Tony Damiano and McConihe each registered two hits and an RBI apiece in the game as well.
The Spartans' offense started quicker in the second game, with Cain opening late affair with a double, later scoring on a one-out double by Damiano. The score remained 1-0 until the top of the fifth, when Eldred drew a leadoff walk, advanced to second on a wild pitch, to third on a sacrifice bunt, and scored on a single by junior second baseman Alex Capetillo.
Baldwin Wallace took advantage of a pair of CWRU errors in the bottom of the fifth to score its first run of the game off senior starting pitcher Jake Shields, but a McConihe single scored Damiano in the sixth, and a groundout by Eldred later in the frame brought McConihe into score, extending the lead to 4-1. However, the Yellow Jackets were able to tie the game with three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, knotting the score at 4-4.
Shields, who entered Sunday tied for the program record with 24 career victories, was chased from the game after 5.1 innings, allowing two earned runs and four total on six hits and three walks, while striking out three batters.
Cain provided the heroics in the top of the seventh with the solo home run, giving the Spartans a 5-4 lead. The home run was the first of Cain's career, coming in what was potentially the third-to-last at bat of his 612 at-bat career.
The Spartans' lead would hold until the bottom of the ninth, when Baldwin Wallace's Dudley Taw doubled in a run with two outs to even the score at 5-5, and send the game into extra innings. It would be the only run allowed by sophomore Corey Brown in his 3.2 innings of relief work in the game.
In the 10th, leadoff single by McConihe and a one-out walk to Kucia put two on for Eldred, who connected on a 1-2 pitch for his second home run of the season and of his career, giving the Spartans a three-run lead. In the bottom of the 10th, the Yellow Jackets loaded the bases with one out, but Kutschke entered the contest, and needed just one pitch to induce an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play for his second save of the day and team-leading fifth of the season.
Brown earned the win on Sunday to improve to 3-1 overall, while the loss when to Baldwin Wallace's Jack Raines in relief, who dropped to 1-1 on the year.
With their regular season now completed, the Spartans will await the selection of the NCAA Championship field, to be released on ncaa.com on the night of Sunday, May 14th. Case Western Reserve is eligible to receive one of the two Pool B bids, designated for teams whose conferences do not receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship, or a Pool C at-large bid. The Spartans finished the year with the toughest strength-of-schedule among Division III teams.