Zack Kessinger's Walk-Off Hit Lifts Baseball to 4-3 Win Over No. 24 Case
Sanford, Fla., March 14, 2014 – Junior Zack Kessinger hit a bases-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth to drive in the game-winning run for the Washington University in St. Louis baseball team in the Bears' 4-3 victory over No. 24-ranked Case Western Reserve University Friday afternoon at the University Athletic Association (UAA) Championship.
After Case scored a run in the top of the ninth to tie the game at 3-3, freshman CJ Price was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the inning for Washington U. Junior Andrew Goldstick followed with a single to center field that put runners on the corners for the Bears. Goldstick advanced to second during the next at-bat, but a popup gave the Bears their first out of the inning. Sophomore Max Golembo was intentionally walked after getting ahead 3-0 on the count to load the bases. Kessinger drove a 1-2 pitch to the warning track in center field to score Price and give Washington U. the win.
The Bears improved to 4-7 on the season and 3-4 in the UAA with the win, while Case dropped to 10-3 overall and 5-2 in the conference. Washington U. concludes the UAA Championship against the University of Rochester at 11 a.m. (ET) Saturday at Sanford Memorial Stadium.
Case got back-to-back singles to start the game, but graduate student Stephen Bonser got back-to-back popups and a called strikeout to get out of the inning. Bonser retired the next 10 batters he faced, before allowing a walk in the fifth inning. He picked off the runner at first and later got a called strikeout to get through the inning.
In the bottom of the fifth, Washington U. scored three unearned runs on two outs to take a 3-0 lead. Golembo started the rally with a two-out single, and moved to second on a bad throw by the Case second baseman. Kessinger followed with an RBI single to right field. Senior Andrew Dwoskin reached on a throwing error by the Spartans' third baseman and junior Chris Lowery hit a two-RBI double down the left-field line to gave the Bears a 3-0 lead.
After holding Case scoreless for another inning, Bonser passed the 100-pitch mark in the top of the seventh and began to struggle with control, allowing a one-out walk and back-to-back hit batters. Junior Max Zhang came in to relieve Bonser and got a ground ball to third by the first batter he faced, which resulted in a run scoring on a fielder's choice to make it 3-1. Zhang then got Case's best hitter, Andrew Gronski, to ground out to second to end the inning.
In the top of the eighth, Case got its leadoff batter on board with a single, before a throwing error on a fielder's choice play put runners on first and second for the Spartans. Zhang fielded a sacrifice bunt attempt cleanly, but had no one to throw to at first base, which gave Case the bases loaded with no outs. A sacrifice fly scored an unearned run for the Spartans to make it 3-2, but Zhang struck out the next two batters to preserve the lead for the Bears.
Freshman Brad Margolin came in to pitch for Washington U. in the top of the ninth. Case got a leadoff single, and the runner moved into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Gronski beat the Bears' defensive shift with a single through the left side of the infield to drive in the game-tying run. The Spartans kept the inning going with a single, but Margolin got Eric Eldred to hit into an inning-ending double play to send the game to the bottom of the ninth tied 3-3.
Margolin (1-1) picked up the win for the Bears, marking the first victory of his career. He allowed one earned run on three hits in one inning of work. Bonser also allowed one earned run on four hits, while recording four strikeouts, in 6.1 innings of work. Zhang allowed two hits and recorded a pair of strikeouts in 1.2 innings of relief. Kessinger led the Bears offensively, finishing 3-for-5 with two RBIs and run scored. Lowery also had a multiple-hit day for Washington U., going 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Both teams finished with nine hits and two errors in the game. Case left 11 baserunners on base, while Washington U. stranded nine.
Bear Notebook: Bonser moved up to sixth on Washington U.'s all-time top-10 for career innings pitched (233.2) … Goldstick passed Bill Rosado (1976-78) for ninth on the Bears' all-time career stolen bases list (35) … Golembo and Dwoskin have both reached base in all 11 of the Bears' games this season.