Baseball to Host Thomas in Four-Game Weekend Series

Baseball to Host Thomas in Four-Game Weekend Series

CASTLETON, Vt. – The Castleton baseball team will stay at home this weekend to host a North Atlantic Conference four-game series against Thomas at Spartan Field. The two teams will square off in a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m. on Saturday, before finishing the series with a twin bill at 12 p.m. on Sunday.

Castleton (19-6, 10-2 NAC) has won eight straight conference contests after dropping two to Colby-Sawyer on April 12. The Spartans are coming off a hard-fought, 4-2 loss to Union in a non-conference matchup Thursday. Dylan Bailey's two-RBI single in the first inning gave the Spartans an early lead and Devin Hayes pitched 5.0 shutout innings, but the Dutchmen scored three in the sixth and added a run in the seventh to take the victory.

The Spartans enter the weekend anchored by a pitching staff that ranks No. 1 in the nation with a 2.30 team earned run average. The unit has allowed four runs or less in all but two games this season and has recorded more strikeouts (175) than hits allowed (166). Freshman Davis Mikell leads the NAC with a 1.00 ERA, allowing just three earned runs over 27.2 innings pitched. He is 3-1 on the season with two complete games and 33 strikeouts. Senior Michael LaBeau ranks second in the NAC with a 1.29 ERA. After starting the season 0-2, LaBeau has won three-straight decisions and has allowed one earned run over his last 17.0 innings on the mound. In three conference starts, LaBeau has three complete-game victories with 15 strikeouts and a 0.82 ERA in 22.0 innings. 

The Spartan offense compliments the nation's top pitching staff with a .294 batting average as a team. Mikell leads the way in batting average (.369), on-base percentage (.460), and slugging percentage (.726). He has blasted seven home runs, laced five doubles, and legged out two triples on his way to 22 RBI and 23 runs scored in 25 games. Deagan Poland is batting .365 on the year and is tied for first in the NAC with 22 stolen bases. Bailey has been seeing the ball well at the plate of late with at least one RBI in five-straight games. The sophomore is batting .346 on the season with nine doubles and 22 RBI. Matt Jackson is batting .417 with 15 hits, three doubles, and a triple in 12 conference games this season. 

Thomas (3-25, 3-11 NAC) has dropped five consecutive games, most recently being shutout by Colby, 5-0, on Thursday.

The Terriers have struggled at the plate with a .227 team batting average. Freshman utility player Darren Kelly leads the offense in batting average (.388) and on-base percentage (.468). He has 26 hits with a double and a triple in 67 at-bats on the season. Junior first baseman Alex Curtis is batting .288 with five doubles, two home runs, and a team-leading 15 RBI to go with his .466 slugging percentage.

The offensive struggles have carried over to the defensive side as well, as the Thomas pitching staff has a collective ERA of 7.81. Junior Matt Rutherford has all three wins on the mound this season, posting a 3-3 record with a 6.41 ERA in 26.2 innings pitched. Freshman Cody Cousins has a team-high 17 strikeouts in 23.1 innings and leads the starting rotation with a 5.79 ERA. Sophomore Thomas Paola has been the Terriers top option of the bullpen, making nine appearances and recording seven strikeouts with a 3.97 ERA in 11.1 innings pitched.

The two teams split the regular season series 2-2 last year, before the Spartans captured a 5-3 victory over the Terriers in the first round of the NAC tournament.