2019 CWRU Baseball Season Recap

2019 CWRU Baseball Season Recap

Behind a strong core of senior leadership and a group of talented younger players, the Case Western Reserve University baseball team made a return to the NCAA Division III postseason in 2019, claiming its first tournament wins since the 2014 campaign.

CWRU finished its 2019 season with an overall record of 24-15, while playing a schedule during the regular season that ranked as the fourth-toughest in all of Division III.  Included in its overall record was a 7-7 mark in University Athletic Association play, finishing in a tie for second place and marking the Spartans' third top-two finish in as many years of site play in the conference.  The team also went 4-4 during the year against opponents that finished the campaign either ranked or receiving votes in the ABCA or D3baseball.com Top-25 polls.

CWRU ended the regular season with a 22-13 record, earning one of the two Pool 'B' bids to the NCAA postseason.  The Spartans would go on to win the first two games of the regional round in Wooster, Ohio, behind a pair of strong pitching performances.  In the opening game, a 4-2 victory over Otterbein, freshman left-handed pitcher Nick Denove threw a complete-game three hitter, striking out five in the win.  The next day, sophomore righty Matt Levine delivered a six-hit shutout to guide the Spartans to an 11-0 win over Rochester.  The two wins put the Spartans just a victory away from advancing to the NCAA Super-Regionals, but the team suffered a pair of losses to Wooster (ranked 16th in the final D3baseball.com poll) to end their 2019 campaign.

The Spartans finished the year batting .310 as a team, leading all UAA teams and ranking 55th among Division III squads.  CWRU also paced the league with 30 home runs (35th in DIII), a .452 slugging percentage (46th in DIII) and a .400 on base percentage (70th in DIII), while ranking second in the league with 7.3 runs per game.  Senior third baseman Jacob Kucia, an All-UAA First Team and all-region selection, led the team with a .399 batting average, the second-best mark in the league during the year.  Senior second baseman Rocco Maue, who was named to the All-UAA First Team and ABCA All-Region Third Team, added a .354 average with six home runs and a team-best 40 RBIs and 18 stolen bases.  Meanwhile, catcher/ outfielder Jake Ryan had a breakout sophomore campaign, hitting .345 with nine home runs, 15 doubles and 39 RBIs, en route to claiming all-conference and all-region honors.

The Spartans' pitching staff was also among the best in Division III during the year, notching an earned run average of 3.53, the second-best among UAA teams and 28th in the country, and a WHIP of 1.28, third in the conference and 22nd in Division III.  Denove emerged immediately as one of the top pitchers in the country during his freshman season, earning all-region and all-conference second team honors during the year.  He led the Spartans with a 7-2 record and a 1.99 ERA (46th in DIII), while notching five complete games (17th in DIII) and two shutouts during the year.  In addition, his 0.92 WHIP was 20th among all Division III pitchers during the season, and the lowest among league pitchers.  Levine added a 6-3 record with a 2.69 earned run average and held opponents to a .221 batting average during the year.  Junior Scott Kutschke, a D3baseball.com All-Region First Team and All-UAA Second Team honoree, went 4-0 with a 2.15 ERA over 13 appearances out of the bullpen, while recording a team-high four saves.

The pitching staff was aided by one of the most reliable defenses in the country, as the Spartans' .972 fielding percentage was ninth among Division III teams, while their 34 double plays turned were the 45th-most in the nation and led all UAA squads.

CWRU scored 10 or more runs eight times during the season, including five showings of 17 or more runs scored in a game.  The pitching staff limited its opponents to two runs or less 17 times, including five shutouts during the campaign.

After a 0-3 start to the season, the Spartans rebounded nicely with wins in 12 of their next 15 games, and 18 of their next 23 overall to raise their record to 18-8.  Including in the stretch was an 18-6 win over Trinity (Conn.) on March 17, which would go on to finish the year receiving votes in the national polls, and a doubleheader sweep of St. John Fisher College on March 24, which was receiving votes in the national polls at the time of the game.

On April 3rd, the Spartans topped Baldwin Wallace (which would qualify for the NCAA Championships and received votes in the final national polls) 7-2 at Nobby's Ballpark to give Head Coach Matt Englander the 300th win of his career.  Englander, who entered the season as the winningest head coach in the program's history, reached the 300-win mark in just his 13th season with the program, and ended the campaign with a 311-228-2 overall record.

CWRU would go on to sweep a four-game series at New York University in conference play on April 6th and 7th.  On April 18th, CWRU topped Wooster 21-10, slugging six home runs overall in the game, including three of Ryan's bat alone.  The 21 runs in the game were the most by a CWRU team since a 21-0 win over Westminster during the 2014 campaign.

CWRU also earned an 8-1 win over Heidelberg (which reached the World Series and finished the year ranked ninth in Division III) at home on April 20th.

In addition to their success on the field, a number of Spartans were recognized for their academic achievements as well.  For the second-straight year, Maue was named to the Google Cloud Academic All-America First Team, and was joined on the Academic All-District First Team by Ryan.  It was the seventh time in program history that a CWRU baseball player had been named to the Academic All-America team (including five first team honors), and the first time that CWRU baseball has had a repeat winner.  Eight members of the CWRU baseball team – sophomore catcher Tre Armstrong, Kutschke, Maue, junior outfielder/ first baseman Noah Mehrle, sophomore catcher Sam Nalli, Ryan, junior pitcher Paul Slota and senior catcher Tyler Wypiszenski – each received UAA Spring All-Academic recognition.

CWRU baseball players earned the following honors during the 2019 season:

ABCA/ Rawlings All-Mideast Region

Nick Denove

Naples, Fla. / Barron Collier

Freshman

Pitcher

Second Team

Jacob Kucia

Strongsville, Ohio / St. Ignatius

Senior

Third Base

Second Team

Rocco Maue

Moon Township, Pa. / Moon Area

Senior

Second Base

Third Team

Jake Ryan

Chatham, Ill. / Glenwood

Sophomore

Outfield

Third Team

 

D3Baseball.com All-Mideast Region

Scott Kutschke

Morton Grove, Ill. / Notre Dame Prep

Junior

Relief Pitcher

First Team

Nick Denove

Naples, Fla. / Barron Collier

Freshman

Starting Pitcher

Second Team

Jake Ryan

Chatham, Ill. / Glenwood

Sophomore

Outfield

Second Team

Jacob Kucia

Strongsville, Ohio / St. Ignatius

Senior

Third Base

Third Team

 

All-University Athletic Association

Jacob Kucia

Strongsville, Ohio / St. Ignatius

Senior

Infield

First Team

Rocco Maue

Moon Township, Pa. / Moon Area

Senior

Infield

First Team

Jake Ryan

Chatham, Ill. / Glenwood

Sophomore

Outfield/ Catcher

First Team

Nick Denove

Naples, Fla. / Barron Collier

Freshman

Pitcher

Second Team

Scott Kutschke

Morton Grove, Ill. / Notre Dame Prep

Junior

Pitcher

Second Team

Casey McConihe

Amherst, Ohio / Amherst Steele

Junior

Infield

Second Team

Tyler Wypiszenski

Lemont, Ill. / Neuqua Valley

Senior

Catcher

Second Team

 

Google Cloud Academic All-America

Rocco Maue

Moon Township, Pa. / Moon Area

Senior

Infield

First Team

 

Google Cloud Academic All-District

Rocco Maue

Moon Township, Pa. / Moon Area

Senior

Infield

First Team

Jake Ryan

Chatham, Ill. / Glenwood

Sophomore

Outfield

First Team

 

NCBWA Division III Rookie of the Week

Nick Denove

Naples, Fla. / Barron Collier

Freshman

Pitcher

Apr. 10

 

D3Baseball.com Team of the Week

Scott Kutschke

Morton Grove, Ill. / Notre Dame Prep

Junior

Relief Pitcher

Mar. 5

Rocco Maue

Moon Township, Pa. / Moon Area

Senior

Second Base

Mar. 26

Jake Ryan

Chatham, Ill. / Glenwood

Sophomore

Outfield

Apr. 23

 

UAA Athlete of the Week

Matt Levine

Boca Raton, Fla. / Olympic Heights Community

Sophomore

Pitcher

Feb. 25, Mar. 11, Mar. 25, May 20

Samuel Neal

Smithfield, Va. / Nansemond-Suffolk Academy

Junior

Hitter

Mar. 18

Rocco Maue

Moon Township, Pa. / Moon Area

Senior

Hitter

Mar. 25

Nick Denove

Naples, Fla. / Barron Collier

Freshman

Pitcher

Apr. 8, Apr. 29

Jake Ryan

Chatham, Ill. / Glenwood

Sophomore

Hitter

Apr. 22


The following were the CWRU team leaders in 2019:

Batting Average

Jacob Kucia

.399

Runs

Rocco Maue

36

Hits

Jacob Kucia

61

Doubles

Jake Ryan

15

Triples

Jacob Kucia

6

Home Runs

Jake Ryan

9

RBIs

Rocco Maue

40

Slugging %

Jake Ryan

.631

On Base %

Jacob Kucia

.503

Stolen Bases

Rocco Maue

18

 

Wins

Nick Denove

7

ERA (min. 1.0 IP/ team game)

Nick Denove

1.99

Saves

Scott Kutschke

4

Strikeouts

Nick Denove

47

Opponents' Average

Tony Smodilla

.198