CASTLETON, Vt. – After spending nine days battling the lingering elements of Mother Nature in the Northeast, the Castleton baseball team is set to open 2017 North Atlantic Conference action Monday against New England College in a neutral-site doubleheader at Purchase College.
The Spartans, who were originally slated to host NEC Saturday, April 1, will be the home team for the opening twinbill with game one first pitch scheduled for 12 p.m.
Castleton (4-3) last played on March 25, splitting a doubleheader just outside of New York City at Old Westbury. The Spartans dropped the first game, 3-2, before answering with a 7-4 victory in the nightcap. Seven Spartans recorded a hit in the win, led by two apiece from Jonathan Lindau and Dylan Bailey. Luke Salerno earned the win on the mound with a six-inning effort allowing four earned runs and striking out four.
Freshman pitcher and first baseman Davis Mikell is off to a hot start for Castleton, leading the team with a .370 batting average over his first seven games. Mikell also has the biggest win on the mound to date, tossing a complete-game gem with nine strikeouts in a 6-3 victory over No. 2 SUNY Cortland. Sophomore outfielder Deagan Poland has started the season on a seven-game hitting streak on his way to a .357 batting average, identical to Lindau's average with 10 hits in 28 at bats. Sophomore outfielder Dillon Benham leads the squad with a .448 on-base percentage and nine RBI and parked his first career homerun at Old Westbury. Zach Bahan has the other homerun this season for the Spartans, blasting an opposite-field grand slam against SUNY Cortland.
Senior Devin Hayes is 1-0 in one start on the mound, shutting out Apprentice with 10 strikeouts over 7.0 scoreless innings. Michael LaBeau leads the staff with 12 strikeouts in two starts. Despite being 0-2 on the season, LaBeau has just a 2.45 ERA with three earned runs in 11.0 innings of work. Salerno has a 4.00 ERA in two appearances this season after tossing three scoreless innings against SUNY Cortland. Steven Jurkiewicz won his first start of the season with eight strikeouts over six innings, while allowing one earned run in a 9-2 win over Coast Guard.
New England College (7-7) comes in on a seven-game winning streak dating back to March 18. After starting the season 0-7, the Pilgrims, who were picked seventh in the NAC Preseason Poll, have rattled off seven in a row with two shutouts and six or more runs scored in three straight games.
The Pilgrims are batting just .256 as a team, but key bats in the middle of the lineup have posted strong numbers across the board. Sophomore Evan Delaney, a Division I transfer from UMass-Amherst, leads the offense with a .478 batting average, .586 on-base percentage, and a .913 slugging percentage. He is also atop the squad in RBI (12), doubles (6), triples (4), and home runs (2). Freshman middle infielder Luis Atiles, a transfer from Western Oklahoma State College, is second on the team in batting average (.367), on-base percentage (.407), and slugging percentage (.490). He has been shaky in the field, however, with 14 errors in 14 games. Freshman outfielder and pitcher Stanley Vargas has 11 RBI to go with a .320 batting average in a team-leading 50 at bats.
New England College has a team ERA of 4.17 through its first 14 games. Freshman Joseph Pascussi is 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA in 17.0 innings pitched. Vargas is 1-1 and leads the team with 37 strikeouts in 23.2 innings of work, while Vincent Backert has a 2.36 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 26.2 innings pitched.
The Spartans swept the season series against NEC a season ago, outscoring the Pilgrims 48-12 in four games.