Sanford, Fla., March 8, 2015 – The Washington University in St. Louis baseball team scored five two-out runs in the bottom of the eighth, but came up short in an 8-5 loss to No. 15 Case Western Reserve University in the opening game of the 2015 University Athletic Association (UAA) Championship Tournament Sunday.
After falling behind 6-0, WashU sent nine batters to the plate in the bottom of the eighth to cut the deficit to one run. Sophomore Austin Darmawan drew a two-out walk to start the rally as a pinch hitter, and senior Andrew Goldstick followed with a walk. Junior Max Golembo sent a single down the first-base line to load the bases. Sophomore CJ Price then roped a single to left-center field that scored Darmawan and Goldstick to get the Bears on the scoreboard.
Senior Chris Lowery followed with a walk, and a wild pitch on ball four allowed Golembo to score from third to make it 6-3. Senior Zack Kessinger drove a fly ball to the gap in right-center field for a two-RBI double to bring the Bears within 6-5. Kessinger slid safely into third on the play when Case third baseman Andrew Gronski dropped the throw from the outfield, putting the tying run 90 feet away, but a groundout ended the inning with Case clinging to a one-run lead.
The Bears' pitching command struggled in the top of the ninth, as sophomore Bill Heisler issued a four-pitch, one-out walk. A balk sent the runner to second, before Heisler got a called strikeout for the second out of the inning. Sophomore Max Cormier replaced Heisler and was called for a balk to advance the runner to third, before Cormier walked the first batter he faced to put runners on the corners. With Gronski, the reigning UAA Most Valuable Player, at the plate, Cormier threw a wild pitch that scored a run for the Spartans to make it 7-5. After Gronski was intentionally walked, sophomore Matt Clohisy surrendered an RBI single before getting a strikeout to end the inning with Case leading 8-5. The Bears went down in order in the bottom of the ninth as Case hung on for the win.
A fielding error in the third inning allowed Case to score three unearned runs on three hits and take a 3-0 lead. The Spartans added three more runs on three hits in the top of the fourth to extend the lead to 6-0. After a leadoff double, a single and an RBI double, Case scored on an RBI groundout and a sacrifice fly, before senior Max Zhang got out of the inning by getting Gronski to ground out to third. Zhang retired the next 11 batters he faced before giving up a two-out single in the top of the eighth, but the WashU offense was limited to just three hits until the rally in the bottom of the eighth.
WashU finished with six hits, while Case had nine. The Bears struck out just twice in the game. Kessinger led the Bears offensively, finishing 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a double, while Golembo, Price, Goldstick and junior Kyle Kozak accounted for the other four WashU hits. Zhang (0-1) took the loss on the mound for the Bears. He scattered eight hits and allowed three earned runs, while striking out three in eight innings of work.
WashU (1-2, 0-1 UAA) returns to action with its second game of the UAA Championship at 11 a.m. (ET) Monday, March 9, against the University of Rochester at Seminole State College.
Bear Notebook: Kessinger's two RBIs brought his career total to 113, moving him past Ryan Corning (2003-06) for 10th on WashU's all-time career leaderboard … Golembo had a stolen base in the game, moving him into a tie with Brian Britson (1989-92) and Graham McBride (1999-02) for eighth on WashU's career list with 36 … The eight innings pitched was the longest outing of Zhang's career … Kozak extended his hitting streak to nine games, while Kessinger has an eight-game hitting streak … It was Kessinger's 29th career double.