Baseball Mounts Comeback Before Falling to Whittier, 9-8

Baseball Mounts Comeback Before Falling to Whittier, 9-8

WHITTIER, Calif. – The Castleton baseball team battled back late to erase a six-run deficit, but Whittier issued the final blow to defeat the Spartans, 9-8, Thursday afternoon at Hugh B. Mendez Stadium.

Dillon Benham went 3-for-4 with four RBI to lead the Spartans offensively. Jonathan Lindau reached base four times with a base hit and three walks, while Steven Walsh drove in two runs and Davis Mikell scored twice as seven different Spartans recorded a hit. 

Whittier (5-3) opened a big lead after sending 10 batters to the plate in the bottom of the second. Michael Angulo and Mason Blansett singled before Jarryd Samsing was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Two singles in between a walk and a sacrifice fly gave the home team an early 6-0 advantage.

Castleton cut into the deficit in the top of the third off a two-run double by Benham to score Lindau and Mikell, who both singled earlier in the inning. The Poets tacked on two more runs in the fourth on RBI singles by Matthew Macey and Brandon Mulrooney to stretch the deficit back to six, 8-2.

The Spartans showed resiliency and continued to chip away at the lead with two runs in the top of the sixth. Benham started things up with an infield single before Joe Apkarian and Alex Borsari worked back-to-back walks to load the bases. Walsh stepped up and lined a single up the middle to score Benham and Apkarian and close the margin to four, 8-4.

After stranding two runners in scoring position in the top of the seventh, Castleton went back to work in the eighth. Borsari opened the inning with a single through the right side and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Ryan Wadsworth chopped one back to the mound, where the Poets' pitcher went to second for the lead runner, but Borsari slid back under the tag and everybody was safe. After both runners advanced a base on a passed ball, Deagan Poland and Matt Braman posted back-to-back RBI groundouts to chip into the lead once more. Down by two with two outs and runners on first and second, Benham belted his second two-run double of the game as Castleton fought all the way back to tie the game, 8-8.

Whittier regained the lead, however, as Mulrooney capped the scoring with an RBI double in the bottom of the eighth to pull the Poets back ahead, 9-8. Mitchell Caron gave the Spartans life in the top of the ninth with a one-out walk. Pat Mumford entered as a pinch runner and stole second, but Castleton could not drive him in as Whittier held on for the 9-8 victory.

Joe Gratton struck out two but shouldered the loss with one earned run on one hit and a walk in the eighth. Cameron Goulet pitched a scoreless inning of relief with a strikeout, while Charles Stapleford started and went 6.0 innings. 

Macey and Mulrooney led the Poets with three hits apiece. Macey earned the win on the mound after recording the final two outs in the eighth.  

Castleton will return from its California trip 2-4 overall, with a season-opening 6-3 win over Pomona-Pitzer and an extra-inning 5-2 victory over No. 2 Cal Lutheran. The Spartans will be off until Sunday, March 11, when they travel to Manhattanville for a doubleheader against the host Valiants and John Jay.