CASPER, Wyo. — Wesley Case gave up a walk-off home run Sunday night in Fremont that ended the first leg of the Sodbusters’ seven-game road trip bitterly.
On Tuesday night, he was the next man up out of the bullpen behind Aaron Alvarez. But, after getting hot, was sat down as head coach Ryan McClaran stuck with Alvarez, who surrendered a three-run walk off to Casper’s Robert Cruz.
On Wednesday, Case got the starting nod and gave the Sodbusters everything they could have hoped for, tossing a complete game on 94 pitches.
“That was a gem,” McClaran said. “That’s the Wes Case I know. I know it’s in the kid and I can’t wait to see what he does in the future.”
Case struck out just three, but walked none. He hit two batters, but neither came back to bite the Sodbusters.
His first inning was by far his worst as he allowed back-to-back singles to start the game and then a sacrifice fly from Cruz gave the Horseheads a 1-0 lead.
But Case was masterful in his eight innings that followed. Just five Horseheads reached base after the first inning. Sixteen of the 27 outs recorded by the Sodbusters were groundouts. Case’s sidearm action and two-seam sinking fastball were his recipe for success.
“That walk-off (on Sunday) sucked,” Case said. “I came in today with the attitude of just don’t suck. I was thinking ‘just don’t be bad,’ and it ended up paying off. I didn’t feel very good going into the game, but in the third inning I kind of settled in and got in a groove and took off.”
What’s more is Case saving the Sodbuster bullpen.
“The two guys we had lined up for relief today would’ve thrown an inning max,” McClaran said. “Wes Case just bailed us out of a really tough spot. That’s exactly what we needed tonight and I couldn’t be more thankful. That kid helped the Sodbusters out a ton. Other than just shoving, he set us up for hopefully another solid day (Thursday).”
The Sodbusters’ offense backed Case’s performance with nine runs on 17 hits.
Hastings had just three hits through four innings, but doubled that in the fifth with a pair of doubles and single. J.D. Barrett led the inning off with a double off the right field wall that he homered over on Tuesday. Darek Bornemeir singled to push him to third before Adam Gadsden smacked an RBI double to left center, trying the game at 1-1.
Jake Oblas hit the first of his two triples to lead off the sixth and later scored on a Wyatt Andersen infield single for a 2-1 lead.
The Sodbusters blew the game open in the seventh and eighth innings off of Casper reliever Robert Meadows.
Grant Schmidt, who is hitting for a .385 average through 11 games, homered for the third time in four games. This was a three-run blast in the seventh that brought home Casey Burnham and Drew Bailey.
“That kid is a monster,” McClaran said of Schmidt. “He just keeps raking and his name should have been popping up in the (MLB) draft. From what I’ve seen, that kid is unbelievable and I would pay attention to that name.”
Four more runs crossed for the ‘Busters in the eighth. Barrett reached on a dropped third strike before Bornemeir doubled and brought him in. Gadsden drew a walk and Bailey crushed an RBI double to score Bornemeir. Schmidt then doubled home Bailey before he was stranded to end the inning.
“I think today we were all in a better place mentally and physically,” McClaran said. “We’re healthy right now and we got rested up a bit. I think the travel really kind of killed us.”
Hastings has a chance to split the series with the Horseheads tomorrow with Matt Hess on the mound. Hess is 1-1 so far this summer with a 0.69 earned run average over 13 innings.
“We play like we did tonight, we’re going to be hard to beat by anybody,” McClaran said.
HAS (4-7) 000 011 340 — 9 17 0
CAS (4-6) 100 000 000 — 1 5 2
W — Wesley Case. L — Robert Meadows.
2B — H, Gadsden, Bailey, Schmidt, Barrett, Bornemeir. H, Pryblinski, Collins.
3B — H, Oblas 2.
HR — H, Schmidt.