Sluggers go 4-4 at UAA Championship, finish third

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James Hale

Senior outfielder Sam Alexander prepares to take a cut. Alexander was seventh in batting at the UAA Championship, hitting .344 with 11 hits and a pair of RBIs.

Peter Cooke, Sports Editor

The Case Western Reserve University baseball team wrapped up its trip to Florida and the University Athletic Association Championship with a 4-4 record and sole possession of third place in the conference. The Spartans finished third after a week of close games and top competition.

Emory University finished at the top of the standings for the second straight year, going 7-1 to become the Association Champion. Washington University nudged out Case for second, finishing 5-3. The Spartans were third at 4-4. The University of Rochester and Brandeis University rounded the standings out at 3-5 and 1-7, respectively.

The Spartans opened the conference season with a 6-2 record before toppling the Yellowjackets 2-1 in the championship’s first game on Sunday, March 11. Junior Jamie Hora went seven innings and change, allowing just one earned run on four hits. Sophomore reliever Jose Vega picked up the final five outs to earn his fourth save. The Spartans put on an impressive offensive effort despite the scoreboard. The telling number was in the box score, where the Spartans left 10 men on base. The Spartans scored in the fourth when Paul Pakan went the distance by ripping a single to left, advancing to second on a fielder’s choice. Pakan then stole third and ran home on a wild pitch. Senior leftfielder Jimmy Abed scored the winning run in the seventh when he hit a single, stole second and third, and took home on a throwing error by the catcher.

Case would take a pair of tough losses against Emory on Monday and Washington on Tuesday. The Spartans fell behind 5-0 to the Eagles in the fourth before grabbing two in each of the fourth and fifth innings. The Eagles put the game out of reach in the ninth when they grabbed four runs to close the game 9-4. The Spartans then had a tough loss in extra innings against Washington, who won from behind, 3-2 in ten innings.

The Spartans would bounce back to sweep Rochester with a 6-4 win thanks to rookie Edward Abramson’s six strong innings on the mound. Abramson gave up just two runs, one earned on seven hits with six strikeouts. The Spartans, who led 5-2 after seven, got a wakeup call as the Yellowjackets crept within one off two earned runs on Ray Kelly before Josh Suvak got the Spartans out of the inning. Senior southpaw A.J. Boshinski came in for the relief effort, earning his first career save.

Against Brandeis, the Spartans were dealt a tough loss when the Judges went run-for-run with the Spartans before dropping an extra in the eighth inning to win 4-3 on the Spartans. Case bounced back on the arm of Hora, who earned his fourth victory of the season in a 4-2 win after four early runs. The Spartans took their revenge over the Judges when they dropped seven runs in the first two innings on their way to a 9-1 victory to move to 4-3 in the UAA with a shot at a share of second place.

The final game of the conference season was a tough one. The Spartans got on the board first; Pakan continued his stellar debut season with the Spartans with an RBI single in the third. The Eagles matched the Spartans when they took advantage of an error and snagged a run. The Eagles would add another run in the fifth before tacking on two in the eighth and putting the game out of reach for the Spartans.

The Spartans had several players atop the UAA after the tournament. Pakan was third in batting average at 3.94, second in hits with 13, and tied for first with one home run. Bobby Marko and Sam Alexander were sixth and seventh, resepectively. Marko hit .375 with 9 hits and Alexander hit .355 with 11 hits.

On the mound, the Spartans had three of the top ten pitchers. Rookie Abramson was third among starters with a 1.00 ERA in three games with nine innings pitched. Hora had an ERA of 1.35 in two appearances and 12 innings. Senior Bradley Potter pitched 11.1 innings with nine hits and a 1.59 ERA and was tied for eighth.

The Spartans will continue their season with a triple-header of sorts against Heidelberg University this weekend, when they travel to Tiffin, Ohio for two games on Saturday, March 24 starting at 1 p.m. Case will then host the Student Princes on Sunday when they come to Cleveland for a 1 p.m. opening pitch at Nobby’s Ballpark.