Case Western Reserve University freshman left-handed pitcher Nick Denove allowed just one earned run on three hits, pitching his fifth complete game of the season and leading the Spartans to a 4-2 win over Otterbein University in the opening game of the NCAA Division III Regionals at Art Murray Field in Wooster, Ohio on Friday afternoon.
The win raises the Spartans' overall record to 23-13, as the team will advance to the winners' bracket game against the fourth-seeded University of Rochester on Saturday at noon. Otterbein dropped to 26-17-1 overall, and will take on Wooster in elimination game on Saturday.
A homerun by Otterbein leadoff hitter Ben Beachy in the top of the first, his sixth of the year, gave the Cardinals an early 1-0 lead. However, Denove would settle in from there, allowing just one unearned run and two hits the rest of the contest. He struck out five batters in the game and walked three, while throwing 104 total pitching in the complete-game effort. The win raised his season record to 7-2, while he lowered his ERA to 1.99.
The score remained 1-0 until the bottom of the fifth, when the Spartans rallied to take the lead, starting with back-to-back two out singles from junior outfielder Samuel Neal and sophomore shortstop Jacob Lott to put runners on the corners. A balk scored Neal and evened the score at 1-1, and senior second baseman Rocco Maue followed with a single, scoring Lott from second and giving the Spartans their first lead of the game.
Otterbein took advantage of a throwing error with one out in the top of the sixth to tie the score at 2-2, but Denove was able to escape further damage, getting a caught stealing and a strikeout to end the frame. CWRU struck again with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, regaining the lead on a walk to sophomore outfielder Benjamin Stawicki and a triple down the right field line by junior right fielder Noah Mehrle.
Denove retired the side in order in the seventh, and worked around a leadoff walk in the eighth, leaving a runner stranded on third to preserve the one-run lead. A solo home run by senior catcher Tyler Wypiszenski to lead off the bottom of the eighth, his third of the year, extended the Spartans' lead to 4-2. Denove sat down all three batters he faced in the ninth, locking up the win for CWRU.
Case Western Reserve outhit Otterbein 11-3 in the game. Maue, junior first baseman Casey McConihe, Mehrle and Lott each went two-for-four in the contest, pacing the Spartans' attack.
Collin Hoffmann suffered his first loss of the season for Otterbein, falling to 6-1 on the year.
CWRU will now turn its attention towards Rochester, which improved to 29-15 following a win over host Wooster to open play at the regional on Friday. Fans can follow play on Saturday via live video and live statistics on the tournament webpage at http://www.woosterathletics.com/sports/bsb/2018-19/NCAA/2019_Baseball_Regional.