Baseball Heads to Virginia to Open Road Trip

Baseball Heads to Virginia to Open Road Trip

CASTLETON, Vt. – Coming off a three-week break from action since its season-opening trip to California, the Castleton baseball team is set to head south to kick off a stretch of five road games over the next four days.

Castleton will face Apprentice at 5 p.m. on Thursday and at 10 a.m. on Friday before taking on Tufts Friday afternoon at 1 p.m. for a quick three-game set at War Memorial Stadium in Hampton, Va. The Spartans will continue their trip with a doubleheader at Coast Guard on Sunday starting at 11 a.m.

Castleton went 2-4 during its California trip with impressive victories over Pomona-Pitzer and defending national champion Cal Lutheran. Two of its losses came by one run, including a 4-3 walk-off defeat at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.

Davis Mikell roped a go-ahead three-run homer in the eighth inning to secure a 6-3 victory over the Sagehens, before shutting down Cal Lutheran on the mound two days later with nine strikeouts and one earned run over seven strong innings. Mitchell Caron belted two doubles to help lead the Spartans to a come-from-behind 5-2 victory in 10 innings over the then-ranked No. 2 Kingsmen.

Jonathan Lindau had a solid trip with six hits and three RBI in 17 at-bats to come away with a team-leading .353 batting average. Dillon Benham batted .318 (7-for-22) with three doubles, three runs scored, and a team-high six RBI, while Steven Walsh posted two hits and two RBI in six at-bats for a .333 clip.

On the mound, nine different pitchers saw action. Mikell hurled nine innings and posted 11 strikeouts with two runs allowed (one earned) on his way to a no-decision and a save. Joe Gratton recorded a decision in all three of his appearances, going 1-2 with two runs allowed (one earned) and three strikeouts in 4.1 innings. Garrett Moran and Andy Kenosh each tossed two scoreless innings of relief in their first appearances of the season.

Apprentice is off to a strong start with a 13-6 overall record. The Builders have won nine of their last 10 and have racked up 45 runs over their last three games. Cody Hendrickson leads the offense with a .478 batting average and 22 RBI in 69 at-bats on the season. Maxwell Burcham is also above .400 (.470) and has a team-high .545 on-base percentage with five doubles and four home runs in 66 at-bats.

Castleton faced Apprentice three times last season and swept the series with 10-0, 3-2, and 5-4 victories at War Memorial Stadium.

Tufts, which is receiving votes in the latest d3basball.com national poll, will be opening its season against Castleton when the two squads meet each other Friday afternoon. The Jumbos went 30-10-1 a season ago and advanced to the same regional as the Spartans, going 0-2 in the tournament with one-run losses to The College of New Jersey and Oswego State.

Tufts will return its top three offensive players from a season ago. Nick Falkson led the Jumbos' offense as a junior in 2017 with a .373/.457/.477 slash line and 37 RBI. Will Shackelford batted .368 with 28 RBI, while Tommy O'Hara hit .351 and led the squad with 43 runs scored. On the mound, Tufts will look to replace senior All-American Speros Varinos, who threw 19 more innings than any other pitcher. R.J. Hall is the top returner and went 3-4 with 40 strikeouts and a 3.39 ERA in 58.1 innings. Brad Marchetti posted 31 strikeouts and a 2.97 ERA in 36.1 innings as a freshman.

Coast Guard is off to a 3-1 start in 2018 after most recently defeating Gallaudet, 7-5, in Florida on Tuesday.

The Bears are averaging just over five runs per game thus far. Jon Pressley has paced the offense with a .500 batting average in 12 at-bats, while Alex Murdoch and Will Stevens are each batting .313 in 16 at-bats on the season. Stevens leads the team with three doubles and five RBI in four games played. Freshman PJ Gravelec is 1-0 on the mound with five strikeouts and a 1.29 ERA over seven innings. Walter Harris, Dustin Reeder, and Brett Sullivan have each tossed six innings thus far.

Castleton is 3-0 against Coast Gaurd over the past two seasons, including a 9-2 victory over the Bears in 2017, behind three hits and two RBI by Mikell. Aaron Smith, Cameron Goulet, and Gratton each tossed an inning of relief in the win.