Spring break really cannot get much better than baseball and Florida. The Case Western Reserve University baseball team shipped off to Sanford, FL this past week to play their eight game conference schedule. The Spartans played a game a day for eight days, and at the end of it all, their conference record would stand at 5-3.
Third-year pitcher captain Jake Shields had some thoughts on the trip to Florida. “Florida is a grind,” he said. “It is very nice to get outside and play in the sunshine though. We just had to come to the field every day ready to go and it was a true test of toughness.”
First-year infielder Rocco Maue also enjoyed the trip. “Getting outside on a hot day in March is obviously something that you can’t get up north,” he said. “It definitely made us better as a team and brought us together.”
Third year right hander Preston Williams added, “I think we showed we will make a great run at the NCAA tournament.”
One of the highlights of the trip had to be setting a UAA single game record as a team. In a 6-3 victory over Brandeis University, the Spartans stole 12 bases, breaking the previous single game record of nine. “Being aggressive on the bases is always a lot of fun,” said Maue. “Our aggressive baserunning allowed us to manufacture runs and put pressure on other teams… even when we weren’t getting big hits, which is huge because we can score runs even on a rough day at the plate.”
Maue contributed to this aggressive base running throughout the week, stealing a tournament leading seven bags. There were a lot of other highlights to the trip. First-year righthander Mark Gross was able to achieve his first collegiate victory in a 7-1 win over Brandeis. Third-year outfielder Tony Damiano was able to get 14 hits throughout the eight games, a conference leading total. With the 5-3 record in the week, the Spartans finished second in the conference standings, a game behind Washington University in St. Louis.
There is a lot of baseball left to be played for the boys as they come back north, with their home opener coming Friday, March 25 at 3:30 versus University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. It seems the trip was a strong bonding experience for the team.
On this note, Maue said in regards to the freshmen, “They welcomed all of us with open arms and part of me feels like I have been playing with these guys my whole life.”
Now all that is left is to continue to work hard to get better. Shields affirmed this, saying, “For us to get better is to keep working harder and harder every day. We have to be willing to do the little things on the mound and at the plate. We have to be consistent in our physical effort and in our mental focus.”
“We will continue to develop as a team and find ways to win,” Williams reiterated. “We just need to continue staying disciplined, working hard and being loose.”
After a successful spring break trip for some conference baseball, don’t miss that home opener.