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Baseball looks for strong repeat

Behind a strong lineup of returning veterans, baseball hopes to repeat on the 24-16 season that they had last year.

Behind a strong lineup of returning veterans, baseball hopes to repeat on the 24-16 season that they had last year.

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Behind a strong lineup of returning veterans, baseball hopes to repeat on the 24-16 season that they had last year.

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As the season slowly changes from winter to spring, the Case Western Reserve University baseball team is ready to bring out the bats and swing out for another good season.

“Our goal is to take it one step at a time … win [the] conference, then win [the Division III] world series, but now the goal is to win our upcoming games,” said Head Coach Matt Englander.

In an effort to reach that goal, the Spartans return 22 players from last year’s roster. The team finished with an overall record of 24-16 and a 11-5 University Athletic Association (UAA) record, good for second in the conference. CWRU led the UAA in home runs (18), triples (17) and doubles (74), and hit .273 as a team last season with an average of 6.75 runs per game. The pitchers recorded an earned run average of 4.35 and an opponents’ batting average of .262 last year.

Although the team lost several crucial hitters to graduation, the returning hitters are ready to step up to the plate, including third-year catcher Tyler Wypiszenski (.336, 30 RBIs, three HRs,), fourth-year outfielder Dan Watson (.291, 23 RBIs) and third-year infielder Jacob Kucia (.290, three HRs, 18 RBIs).

“[It’s on the players] to overcome adversity … depends on how well they adjust bat to bat,” said Englander.

Third-year right-handed pitcher Mark Gross (4-4, 2.93 ERA last season) and fourth-year right-handed pitcher Ben Murphy (4-1, 2.51 ERA) are the team’s top returning starting pitchers, while first-year right-handed pitcher Matt Levine will look to make a strong impact. Fourth-year left-hander Liam Killingstad (3.34 ERA, four saves), third-year left-hander Corey Brown (3-1, 3.63 ERA) and second-year left-hander Scott Kutschke (1.29 ERA, five saves) are the team’s top bullpen players.

Englander said that the team has strong leadership in its upperclassmen.

“All [fourth-year players] will have a strong presence … including Dan Watson, Liam Killingstad and Ben Murphy,” he said. “We have a solid [third-year] class too.”

Entering his twelfth season with the team, Englander holds a 258-203-2 career record. Named the 2014 Mideast Region Coach of the Year by, he has the most wins in program history and has led the team to eight consecutive seasons of over 24 victories, four NCAA Championships appearances and two UAA Championships. In the last eight seasons, he holds a whopping .646 winning percentage. Assistant coaches Nick Callahan and Branden Stucky will join him on the sidelines.

This weekend the Spartans will travel to Washington, Pennsylvania to begin their season against No. 4 Washington and Jefferson College and Allegheny College. Washington and Jefferson was the runner-up in last season’s NCAA Championships, while Allegheny just recently hired a new coach. The Spartans have won the last three times they faced Allegheny.

“We have a group of hard working, team-oriented players … this season will be fun and a grind,” Englander said.

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Baseball looks for strong repeat