Spartans Take Two From NEC; Stay Perfect At Home

Spartans Take Two From NEC; Stay Perfect At Home

CASTLETON, Vt. – The Castleton baseball team used a strong rally in game one and stellar pitching in game two to earn a doubleheader sweep over New England College, 12-8 and 4-2, Thursday afternoon in North Atlantic Conference action at Spartan Field.

With the wins, Castleton extended its winning streak to 14 consecutive games and finished the regular season unbeaten at home with a 10-0 mark. The Spartans improved to 24-9 overall and 18-2 in conference play, while New England College fell to 21-13 on the season and 10-8 in NAC action with the losses.

Castleton 12, NEC 8

Behind three early home runs, NEC came out aggressive in the opening game and scored in each of the first four innings to hold an 8-3 lead before Castleton began to battle back.

The Spartans found their rhythm in the bottom of the fourth, putting up a crooked number with six runs on the strength of five hits.

After Andrew Graciano was hit by a pitch and replaced at first base on a fielder's choice by Steven Walsh, back-to-back singles by Pat Mumford and Deagan Poland loaded the bases. Davis Mikell was hit by a pitch to bring in a run before Jonathan Lindau roped an RBI single to left field to cut the deficit to 8-5.

A baserunning miscue led to the second out of the inning, but Mitchell Caron blasted a two-run double and came around to score on a triple by Dillon Benham. The incoming throw to third was off target and Benham raced home to give the Spartans a 9-8 lead.

After the strong start for NEC offensively, Aaron Smith worked a scoreless fifth and sixth to hold the one-run lead. In the bottom of the sixth, a two-out error by NEC proved to be costly as Benham followed the miscue with a three-run home run well over the wall in right field to provide insurance and stretch the Spartans' lead to 12-8.

Smith worked around a single and a walk in the top of the seventh and capped the comeback victory with a strikeout to secure the win for the Spartans, 12-8.

Smith captured the win on the mound, allowing three earned runs on seven hits with five strikeouts over four innings of relief. Joe Gratton started for Castleton but did not factor in the decision after surrendering five runs on eight hits over three innings.

Caron and Benham combined for six hits and eight RBI to lead the Spartans offensively. Lindau finished 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI.

Justin Carey led NEC offensively with three hits, three runs scored, and two RBI. Shayne Audet took the loss, allowing three runs on three hits while recording the final two outs in the fourth. 

Castleton 4, NEC 2

Garrett Moran backed Castleton with another strong performance on the mound in the night cap. The sophomore held NEC scoreless through the first four innings and the Spartans tacked on a run in the first and third innings to open an early lead.

Mikell sparked Castleton in the first inning with a one-out single to right field and he got Castleton on the board after scoring on back-to-back defensive miscues at second base.

In the third, Deagan Poland beat out an infield single to start the frame. After advancing to second on a ground out and reaching third on a passed ball, a defensive error at second allowed Poland to come home to double the Spartans' lead, 2-0.

NEC battled back to score two runs on two hits in the fifth. Nick Powers worked a one-out walk and later crossed the plate on a wild pitch to get on the board. Manuel Andujar singled through the left side before coming around to score on a single to second base by John Prentice. Walsh made a diving stop to keep the ball on the infield, but the throw was a hair late as the Pilgrims tied the game at 2-2.

The level game was brief, as Castleton responded in the bottom of the fifth. Mikell led off with a single before back-to-back walks by Lindau and Caron loaded the bases. With one out, Dylan Bailey came up in a key spot and belted a two-run single to right field to give the Spartans a 4-2 lead.

Moran worked out of trouble in the sixth and Andy Kenosh fired a 1-2-3 seventh inning to tally his first career save and cap the sweep with a 4-2 victory in game two.

Moran improved to 4-0 on the season with two runs on three hits and four strikeouts over six strong innings. Mikell led the Spartans offensively with two hits and two runs scored.

Castleton will return to the diamond on Friday for a NAC doubleheader at second-place Lyndon State starting at 12 p.m.