With 11 games left in the regular season, the Case Western Reserve University Spartans will play host to Bethany College this Saturday, April 14, for a doubleheader. The Spartans had won four out of five games coming into their Wednesday home matchup against Wooster College. Case sported a 19-10-1 record coming into the game and has kept up the strong performance at home with a 5-1-1 record. As a team, the Spartans’ offense has continued to shine. Throughout the first 30 games of the season, the team has accumulated a .301 batting average, a .374 on-base percentage, and 173 scored runs, averaging 5.7 runs per game. They have 303 hits, including 54 doubles and 12 home runs, and 151 RBIs to cap off their stellar offensive performance.
The Bethany Bison have struggled throughout the season, holding an 8-14 record and a 2-5 road record. As a team, Bethany holds a .276 batting average, a .365 on-base percentage, and a total of 138 runs, averaging 6.3 runs per game. Prior to their Thursday matchup against Mount Aloysius, the Bison were coming off a 1-5 record in their last six games. Their recent struggles can be contributed to their offense. Bethany has totaled 178 hits, including 24 doubles and 4 home runs, and has scored 120 RBIs.
Case was set for a one-game matchup against Bethany last season, but the game was canceled. In their last four meetings – two in 2010 and another two in 2009 – the Spartans won all four. In 2009, Case starter A.J. Boshinski pitched a four-hit, seven-strikeout shutout performance to blank the Bison 3-0. In the second of the doubleheader, the Spartan pitching came through again, led by Kevin Haley and Devin Dye, and Case shut out Bethany 11-0. In 2010, Bison had better luck scoring. After a slugfest that saw the Spartans win 14-8, the Bison made it a game but came up short as the Spartans squeezed out a 4-3 victory.
Spartan Offensive Players to Watch:
CF Paul Pakan – This may be his first year in a Spartan jersey, but you wouldn’t know it judging by the way Pakan has been producing. In 133 plate appearances, the centerfielder has batted .364 with 43 hits, 9 doubles, a home run, and 19 RBIs. In his last five games, Pakan has batted .360 by going 9-for-25 while collecting three doubles and two RBIs along the way. Look for him to continue his successful season on Saturday.
OF Sam Alexander – Alexander has provided major power offense for the Spartans. The senior is batting .321 while leading the team in RBIs (26) and home runs (3). In his last five games, Alexander has batted .302 while recording at least one RBI. During the same stretch, he has plated 9 RBIs.
Bison Offensive Players to Watch:
3B Brad Kubis – The third baseman is one of Bethany’s best all-around offensive players. In 22 games, he has batted .377 and leads the team in hits (23), batting average, on-base percentage (.519), home runs (1), total bases (28), and walks (15). Kubis should pose the greatest threat to the Spartan pitching if he continues his hitting streak.
OF Derek Miller – While Miller’s batting average (.257) may not seem too impressive, the freshman leads the team in RBIs with 20. The Spartans will have to keep him off-balance and get at him early. Miller is capable of a serious offensive outburst if given the opportunity.
Spartan Pitchers to Watch:
LHP Garret Gish – The junior starter has had a stellar performance this season. In eight appearances, Gish has a 5-1 record with 47.2 innings pitched and holds a 3.02 ERA. The lefty, who missed the entire 2011 season due to injury, has provided the Spartans with much-needed pitching strength. On March 27 and April 1, Gish put on back-to-back eight-inning shutout performances. He struck out nine in the first match against Otterbein and mowed down another four against Allegheny.
RHP Jamie Hora – The right-handed reliever has been a workhorse for the Spartans. Logging the most innings pitched (48), Hora holds a 7-0 record with an ERA of 3.38 and averages 7.88 strikeouts per game. One of his best performances was against Westminster on March 31, when the junior logged six innings while holding Westminster to four hits and one run. He also struck out seven batters, his second highest strikeout performance for the season.
Bison Pitchers to Watch:
RHP Ryan Meier – The freshman has been the Bison’s best pitcher this season. The righty has pitched 27 innings this season while collecting 17 strikeouts and holding a 2-1 record and a 2.67 ERA. Meier has the second most innings pitched on the team, but has the best ERA, strikeouts, and wins. In his last outing, Meier went 5.2 innings and gave up two runs on seven hits while striking out five hitters to collect the victory.
RHP Tyler Kurtz – Kurtz is another freshman that has anchored the Bison pitching staff. While his ERA (8.56) is not as impressive as Meier’s, Kurtz has pitched 27.1 innings with a 0-2 record and collected 14 strikeouts. Kurtz could be potentially deadly against the Spartans, but if Case gets to him early, watch for an early exit.
Prediction: Game 1: 7-3, Game 2: 10-2
Coming off a stellar five-game stretch, the Spartans should have momentum on their side as they face the Bison. If the weather holds up, Case should run away with the victories this weekend against Bethany.