CASTLETON, Vt. – An early lead for the Castleton baseball team did not stand Thursday afternoon, as Union battled back in the late innings to defeat the Spartans, 4-2, in non-conference action at Spartan Field.
The loss snaps as eight-game winning streak for the Spartans as they fall to 19-6 overall on the season. Union improves to 12-10 on the season with the win.
Castleton jumped out to an early lead with three of its four hits coming in the first inning. After Dillon Benham poked a single to left, Davis Mikell, who was facing his brother Sam Mikell on the mound, laced a single to right to put runners on the corners. Benham was cut down at home looking to score on a wild pitch, before back-to-back walks from Jonathan Lindau and Matt Jackson loaded the bases. Dylan Bailey followed up with an opposite-field single to right field to score two and give the Spartans an early 2-0 lead.
The contest turned into a pitching duel from there, as Castleton starter Devin Hayes worked in the strike zone all afternoon and induced three double plays over 5.0 innings pitched. S. Mikell settled in to allow just one hit over the next six frames on his way to a 7.1-inning outing.
Union found an answer in the sixth, as Nate Olson took the first pitch he saw and sent it off the wall in right-center field for a leadoff double. Hayes climbed back with a fly out and a strikeout, but three straight two-out hits put the Dutchmen in the lead. Jake Vesling hit a soft groundball to short and beat a close play at first, before Kent Curran tied the game with a two-RBI double to right-center. Curran scored one batter later on an RBI-single by Andy Labeck and Union took its first lead of the game, 3-2.
The Dutchmen added another run in the seventh, as Nick Williams led off with a double to center again on the first pitch of the inning. After advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt by Zach Twitchell, Williams was caught between third and home on a pitch in the dirt. Jonathan Lindau made a strong scoop behind the plate and forced the runner back to third, but his throw was off target, allowing him to score and extend Union's lead to 4-2.
Castleton was unable to respond offensively, as Josh Garber came out of the bullpen and pitched the final 1.2 scoreless innings to pick up his first save of the season. Mikell earned the win on the mound with four strikeouts over 7.1 innings pitched, while holding the Spartans to 1-for-7 at the plate with runners in scoring position.
Hayes (4-1) shouldered his first loss of the season for Castleton, scattering 11 hits and four earned runs with three strikeouts over 8.0 innings pitched. Cameron Goulet pitched a perfect ninth in his third appearance of the year out of the bullpen.
Castleton returns to action at 1 p.m. on Saturday when it hosts Thomas for a North Atlantic Conference doubleheader at Spartan Field.