The 10th-ranked Case Western Reserve University baseball team will have a chance to clinch at least a share of the 2018 University Athletic Association Championship this weekend, when it travels to Saint Louis, Missouri for a four-game series at Washington University (Mo.). The Spartans and the Bears are scheduled to play a single game on Friday, April 20th at 4:00 p.m. ET, followed by a doubleheader starting at 1:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 21st, and concluding with a single game at 12:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 22nd.
Live video coverage of each of the four games can be found at https://portal.stretchinternet.com/wustl/, while fans can follow live statistics for all four games at http://bearsports-livestats.wustl.edu/baseball/xlive.htm.
The Spartans will enter their final weekend of UAA play with a 10-2 league record, and have a two-game lead in the loss column over both Emory (8-4) and Washington (4-4). CWRU can clinch at least a share of the conference championship with a split of their series with the Bears this weekend. New York University is in fourth place in the conference with a 2-6 record, followed by Brandeis University with a 0-8 mark.
The Spartans have won 10 of their last 11 games, including wins in the final three games of their series against New York University last weekend, improving to 23-4 overall this year. CWRU was ranked 10th in the latest D3baseball.com and ABCA/ Collegiate Baseball Top-25, released earlier this week. The Spartans are batting .296 as a team with 7.3 runs scored per game, while the pitching staff has a 3.10 ERA with a .228 opponents' batting average.
At the plate for CWRU, junior second baseman Rocco Maue is batting .386 this season with 11 home runs, 31 RBIs and 19 stolen bases on as many tries. Senior outfielder Nate Glasser has added a .294 average with eight doubles and 16 stolen bases on as many attempts, while junior catcher Tyler Wypiszenski is hitting .293 with seven doubles, four triples, four home runs and 24 RBIs. The Spartans' rotation consists junior Mark Gross (4-2, 2.52 ERA), sophomore Casey McConihe (2-1, 3.45 ERA), senior Ben Murphy (4-1, 2.38 ERA) and freshman Matt Levine (4-0, 2.55 ERA), while key members of the bullpen include senior Liam Killingstad (2-1, 1.12 ERA, eight saves), sophomore Scott Kutschke (4-0, 1.88 ERA) and junior Corey Brown (3-0, 2.83 ERA).
Head Coach Matt Englander is in his 12th season with the team, and holds a 281-207-2 career record. The 2014 Mideast Region Coach of the Year and winningest coach in program history has led the team to eight-consecutive seasons of 24 or more victories, two UAA Championships and four NCAA Tournament appearances, while notching a .661 winning percentage (244-125-1) over the last nine seasons. Englander is assisted by Nick Callahan, Branden Stucky and Andrew Rossman.
The Bears will be in action this weekend for the first time since dropping three out of four games at Emory during a conference series from April 6-8. Washington stands at 15-12 overall on the year, including a 7-2 mark in home games. The team is batting .260 and averaging 5.8 runs per game, while the pitching staff has a UAA-leading 2.77 earned run average with a .237 opponents' batting average.
The Bears' top hitters include sophomore first baseman John Brinkman (.330, 29 RBIs), sophomore catcher Thomas Gardner (.300, nine RBIs) and sophomore outfielder John Ostrander (.299, 15 RBIs). Washington's rotation includes junior John Howard (4-3, 0.98), freshman Ryan Loutos (4-3, 2.58 ERA), sophomore Matt Ashbaugh (1-0, 2.79 ERA) and freshman Rees Viersen (2-1, 4.98 ERA), while key options out of the bullpen for Washington include freshmen Tim Tague (3-2, 1.91 ERA, two saves) and Jared Fong (1.23 ERA).
Washington is coached by Pat Bloom, who has a record of 75-40 during his three years with the Bears, and is 468-215 during his 15-year career as a Division III head coach, which includes a 12-year stint at Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Bloom is assisted by Adam Rosen and Tyler Schmitt.
Last year, the Spartans and the Bears split their four-game series in Cleveland, with Washington winning the opening game 1-0, CWRU responding with a 5-1 win in game two, the Bears claiming game three 5-0, and the Spartans taking a 10-1 victory in the final contest of the weekend. During the four games, Chris Shorter hit .364 with two home runs, a double and three runs batted in, while Casey McConihe added a .273 average at the plate and earned a win on the mound, allowing one run on four hits over seven innings. The Spartans are 20-29 against the Bears since the 2001 campaign.
- CWRU's Scott Kutschke was selected as the UAA Pitcher of the Week, after pitching eight shutout innings out of the bullpen and appearing in all three of the Spartans' wins during their four-game series against NYU. Kutschke won both games of the team's doubleheader on Saturday afternoon.
- CWRU has won 10 of its last 11 games and is sixth among Division III teams and leads the UAA with a 0.852 winning percentage this season. As of Thursday, the team's strength of schedule ranks 30th in the country according to D3baseball.com, which takes into account both opponents' winning percentage the opponents' opponents' winning percentage.
- The Spartans improved to 2-0 in extra innings games this year with their 4-3 win in 10 innings over NYU last Saturday. CWRU is 21-0 when tied or leading after six innings, 15-1 when it outhits its opponent, 14-0 when it scored at least six runs in a game, 19-1 when it holds its opponent to five or fewer runs, and 15-2 when it scores first.
- CWRU's 21 UAA victories over the first two years of site-play for the conference are the most among the league's teams. The Spartans are 21-7 in UAA play over the last two seasons, including a 9-3 record in road UAA contests.
- The Spartans have stolen 74 bases on 83 attempts this season for an 89.2% success rate. CWRU leads the UAA in total stolen bases (16th in DIII), and with 2.74 stolen bases per game (21st in DIII). Meanwhile, opponents have attempted to steal against the Spartans just 23 times and have been successful on only 15 tries for a 65.2% rate.
- CWRU hitters leading off innings this season have reached base at a .411 mark this year.
- The team's defense leads the UAA with 27 double plays (27th in DIII) and 1.00 double plays per game (12th in DIII), while ranking second in the conference and 88th in Division III with a 0.962 fielding percentage.
- CWRU's pitchers have allowed just 7.64 hits per game this season, the lowest in the UAA and the 12th-fewest among Division III teams this season. The Spartans are second in the UAA and 21st in Division III with a 3.10 team ERA, are second in the UAA and 40th in Division III with a 1.30 WHIP.
- The Spartans' offense leads the UAA with 65 doubles (31st in DIII), 2.41 doubles per game (18th in DIII), 19 home runs (50th in DIII), 0.70 home runs per game (40th in DIII), 19 sacrifice flies (24th in DIII), and a .438 slugging percentage (67th in DIII). The team is also second in the UAA with a .296 batting average, 7.3 runs per game, and a .384 on base percentage.
- Rocco Maue is second among Division III players with 11 home runs this season, which has already set a new school single-season record. Maue also leads the UAA with 38 runs (32nd in DIII), a .746 slugging percentage (28th in DIII), 19 stolen bases (27th in DIII), and 85 total bases (17th in DIII). He has homered at least once in each of the team's first three UAA series, and his six home runs in conference play equal the combined total hit by the other four UAA teams in conference play this season. Maue's 12 career home runs are tied for the fifth most in program history.
- Liam Killingstad leads the UAA and is third among Division III pitchers with eight saves this season. He is one save shy of the program's single-season record, set by Jose Vega in 2012, and his 14 career saves are four away from Dan Sondag's (2012-15) program record.
- CWRU has three starting pitchers ranked among the top-seven in the conference in ERA – Ben Murphy (fifth), Mark Gross (sixth) and Matt Levine (seventh).
- Tyler Wypiszenski is second in the UAA and 27th in Division III with four triples this season. Nate Glasser is second in the UAA and 47th in Division III with 16 stolen bases.
- Maue leads the team with 12 multiple-hit games this season, while Wypiszenski has a team-best six multiple RBI games. Wypiszenski also has an eight-game hitting streak, the longest active stretch by a Spartan and the third-longest hitting streak by a CWRU player this season.