Spartans Fall to #18 Whitworth in NCAA West Regional Opener

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In a game interrupted by a pair of weather delays, the third-seeded Case Western Reserve University Spartans fell to 18th-ranked and fourth-seeded Whitworth University Pirates 8-5 in their opening game of the 2016 NCAA Division III West Regional Championships at Avista Stadium in Spokane, Washington.

Despite trailing by as many as seven runs in the game, the Spartans were in the contest until the end, scoring four unanswered runs in the final three innings to close the gap to three.  Case Western Reserve out-hit Whitworth 14-11 during the game.

The setback puts the Spartans one loss away from elimination, as the team dropped to 26-14 overall for the season.  Case Western Reserve will attempt to avoid elimination when it takes on top-seeded Trinity University (Texas), ranked third in Division III, at 3:15 p.m. PT on Thursday, May 19th.  The Tigers defeated sixth-seeded Pacific Lutheran University 7-3 earlier in the day to improve to 36-7 on the season.

Fans can follow the action on Thursday will live stats and video.  The links to both will be available on the Spartans' schedule page, and on the official tournament website at

The hometown team jumped out to the early lead in the game.  In the top of the first, Whitworth's Joel Condreay drove in a pair of runs with a two-out single off Spartan junior starting pitcher Jake Shields.  The Pirates scored two more in the second on a two-run home run by Garrett Hughes.  Daniel Casanova added an RBI single in the top of the third, pushing the Whitworth lead to 5-0.

The Spartans loaded the bases in the bottom of the third, and would score their first run of the game when junior catcher Eric Eldred crossed the plate on a double play, cutting the lead to 5-1.

After senior Eddie Abramson pitched a scoreless fourth, the game was halted for 50 minutes due to a lightning delay.  Play resumed, and after the Spartans were retired in the bottom of the inning, Whitworth added a run in the fifth on an RBI single by Ryan Bird, before play was stopped again for a 16 minute rain delay in the middle of the inning with junior Preston Williams on the mound for the Spartans.  After play resumed, a pair of walks in the fifth brought across another run for Whitworth, and a sacrifice fly from Nate Lamberty in the sixth extended the Pirates' lead to 8-1.

In the seventh, freshman shortstop Rocco Maue drove in a run with a groundout to third, trimming the advantage to 8-2.  The next inning, an RBI double into the gap in left center field by sophomore second baseman Alex Capetillo scored Tony Damiano and pulled the Spartans back within five runs.  Later in the inning, junior Aaron Cain doubled to right center to score Capetillo to cut the lead to 8-4.

In the bottom of the ninth, base hits for Maue and freshman first baseman Mike Najmowicz, followed by a walk to Damiano, brought the tying run to the plate with one out.  Capetillo would drive in another run with a single, putting the tying runs on base, but a strikeout and a single ended the game without any further runs scoring.

Shields took the loss on the mound for the Spartans, ending his streak of six-straight decisions without a loss, to fall to 8-3 on the season.  Freshman starting pitcher Hugh Smith earned the win, allowing just two runs over six-and-a-third innings of work, improving to 6-1 for the year.

Williams pitched strong in relief for the Spartans, allowing just one earned run on two hits and three walks, while striking out a pair in his five innings of work.  At the plate, Cain went four-for-five with a pair of doubles and an RBI, and Capetillo added a three-for-five performance with a run and two RBIs.

With the win, Whitworth improved to 30-11 on the year, and will advance to face the fifth-seeded University of Texas – Tyler at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.