CASTLETON, Vt. – The nation's top-ranked pitching staff allowed just three hits over 14.0 scoreless innings, as the Castleton baseball team earned a pair of shutout victories over Thomas, 7-0 and 8-0, in a North Atlantic Conference doubleheader Sunday afternoon at Spartan Field. With the wins, the Spartans secured a season sweep of the Terriers to improve to 14-2 in NAC play and 23-6 overall. Thomas, meanwhile, fell to 3-15 in conference action and 3-29 overall.
Castleton 7, Thomas 0
The Spartan pitching staff, which ranks No. 1 in the country with a 2.09 ERA, was anchored by Michael LaBeau in the opener. The senior allowed two hits with seven strikeouts over 7.0 shutout innings to earn his third consecutive complete-game victory.
Castleton jumped out to an early 2-0 lead when Jonathan Lindau laced a two-RBI double in the home half of the first. Davis Mikell and Zach Bahan scored on the hit, who earlier reached base via walk and hit-by-pitch. The Spartans tacked on another run in the second, with Josh Rylant and Dylan Bailey working a double steal to perfection.
The game remained 3-0 until the Spartans broke it open with a four-spot in the bottom of the fifth. Bahan and Mikell each singled to start the inning, before Lindau was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Matt Jackson and Mitchell Caron started the merry-go-round with a pair of bases-loaded walks, before back-to-back sacrifice flies from Bailey and Rylant extended the Spartan lead to 7-0.
LaBeau was in cruise control through the final two innings, capping off his complete game with three groundouts in the seventh to secure the 7-0 victory.
LaBeau has now allowed one earned run over his last three starts, spanning 22.0 innings. In four conference starts on the season, LaBeau is 4-0 with four complete games, 22 strikeouts, and just two earned runs over 29.0 innings.
Bahan collected two hits and scored two runs on his way to a 2-for-3 performance at the plate. The bottom five in the order all produced an RBI, with Lindau leading the way with two on his first-inning two-bagger.
Brandon Hubbard shouldered the loss on the mound for Thomas, falling to 0-6 on the season with seven earned runs over 4.0 innings pitched. He struck out three, walked four, and scattered seven hits.
Castleton 8, Thomas 0
Luke Salerno was masterful on the mound in the nightcap, pitching a complete-game, one-hit shutout. A first-inning double was the only hit he allowed in the contest, as he retired 13 straight batters and faced the minimum the rest of the way. The only other Terrier to reach base, via walk, was doubled off on a lineout in the top of the sixth. The senior struck out a season-high 10 batters to improve to 5-0 on the season.
The Spartan offense took the wind out the Terriers' sails with runs in each of the first four frames. Rylant capped off a two-run first inning with a two-out, two-RBI single up the middle to give the Spartans an early lead.
The first three batters to come up in the bottom of the second reached base, and they all scored to extend the Spartan lead to 5-0. Bailey led off with his team-leading 10th double of the season, before Nick Patierne walked and Deagan Poland singled to load the bases. Dillon Benham drove in Bailey on an RBI-single up the middle and Bahan followed with a sacrifice fly to center. Mikell capped off the three-run second with an RBI-groundout.
After Caron worked a walk, stole second and advanced to third on a wayward throw by the catcher, he scored on a wild pitch one batter later in the bottom of the third. The Spartans delivered the final blow in the bottom of the fourth, as Bahan drilled a two-RBI single to left field to cap off the scoring in game two.
Salerno worked a perfect fifth and sixth inning, before putting a stamp on the best start of his career by striking out the side in the seventh.
Four Spartans recorded two hits in the contest. Bahan went 2-for-3 with three RBI, while Poland and Benham each went 2-for-3 with two runs scored.
Thomas starter Jonah Gorgone took the loss on the mound, allowing five runs on six hits over 2.0 innings. Jaicob Flores was tagged for two runs on three hits in an inning of relief, while Payton Kennison, Thomas Paola, and Ryan Jurgiewich each worked a scoreless inning out of the bullpen for the Terriers.
Castleton will continue its trek through the NAC with a home-and-home series against fourth-place Lyndon State. The Spartans will first travel to play the Hornets in a doubleheader Tuesday starting at 2 p.m.