Spartans knock off No. 2-ranked Heidelberg
Case squad continues to roll, wins fourth straight
Issue date: 3/26/10 Section: Sports
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"You know, I think, if anything, it validates what we've been doing all along," said coach Matt Englander. "We're good enough to play at that level."
Spartan starting pitcher Zach Fry pitched a complete game, giving up just one earned run and striking out five.
"It's a good win for us," said Fry. "We have to win out and get into the tournament. Beating the No. 2 team in the country, it's a good win on our résumé."
Fry was able to throw his two best pitches for strikes against Heidelberg - his fastball and changeup.
"He made them beat his best pitches," said Englander.
The Spartans entered last Saturday's home doubleheader against Mt. Aloysius College with a .500 record after a win in their home opener two days before. After sweeping the Mounties by scores of 5-4 and 7-4, they have a record of 9-7, their best record after 16 games in over eight years.
"They're a lot like us, in terms of a young team. They're similar to us: athletic, have some talented kids, but I think we were better, and I think that showed," said Englander. "It's a good team to play against. They execute, they play the right way."
The first game of the doubleheader was the closer of the two games. The Spartans and Mounties traded runs throughout the game, though the Spartans had 10 hits to the Mounties' six.
In the bottom of the seventh, with the score tied at 4, center fielder Jamal Abed led off by reaching first after a strikeout. After a sacrifice bunt, the Mounties intentionally walked freshman shortstop Matt Keen to set up a potential double play. The pitcher then balked, moving Abed and Keen up a base and persuading the Mounties to issue another intentional walk to load the bases. Freshman first baseman Brett Ossola came up with a solid single to drive in the winning run.
"As a coach, you forget sometimes that that's a pressure situation for a freshman," said Englander. "So many kids would try to do way too much stuff in that situation, want to be the hero and hit a grand slam. It takes some maturity to say, 'My job is not absolutely to swing as hard as possible, my job is to hit the ball hard somewhere,' and that's what he did."
The second game wasn't as close, with the Spartans scoring seven runs in the first three innings. Both teams' bullpens kept the respective offenses in check in the later innings.
Overall, the offense performed the best over the two games. They had a total of 21 hits in the doubleheader, and kept both Mt. Aloysius starting pitchers and the defense on their toes.
"We've kept up our approach in terms of making teams get us out with fastballs, and we've done a good job of that," said Englander. "If anything helps our guys, it's their confidence level. They're not afraid to hit with two strikes."
"What we say to our guys is, 'We want to be aggressive, but not anxious.' What that means is we're ready to hit the first pitch and we're ready to hit the eighth pitch," said Englander. "Whenever we get that one we're ready to drive, we can do it."
The Spartan pitching, however, was a mixed bag. Starters A.J. Boshinski and Noah Lieberman both walked their fair share of batters, something that did not sit well with Englander.
"We just still walk too many batters. Really, it just boils down to that in a lot of cases, just not getting ahead, not really dictating the course of the game," said Englander.
Relievers Zach Fry and Devin Dye, on the other hand, played well, throwing five shutout innings between them.
"Devin and Zach I thought were pretty good…It's not a big surprise, [they] came in, a couple of our most experienced guys, and they pitched the way that they should. They were ahead in a lot of counts, threw strikes with more than one pitch, and they were successful," said Englander.
Underlying the two victories was the fact that some of the "little things" were not done as well. The Spartans went 1-for-3 on stolen base attempts, and the defense made five errors in the doubleheader, four of which came in the second game.
"It's hard to be upset when you win, but you want to make sure that you play at the highest level that you can, and I don't know that we quite did that," said Englander. "But all in all, it was a good weekend."