CASTLETON, Vt. – Behind a complete-game effort from Joe Gratton and one of the best offensive efforts of the season, Castleton University defeated the University of Maine, Farmington, 9-2, Saturday morning in the first game of the 2018 North Atlantic Conference Baseball Tournament at Spartan Baseball Field.
With the victory, Castleton improves to 28-10 and moves into the winner's bracket, next playing Sunday at 11 a.m. Maine-Farmington falls to 13-20 and will face the loser of the second game in an elimination contest later Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
Gratton's day did not get off to a good start, as leadoff hitter Jimmy Parks reached on an error and Jake Bessey followed with a bunt single. After both runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Nick Attaliades-Ryan, Parks scored on a wild pitch by Gratton to give the Beavers a 1-0 lead.
After an infield single, Gratton settled down, retiring 14 of the next 16 batters. He gave up an unearned run in the sixth inning, but then set down 12 of the final 13 batters to finish out the complete game. He threw 120 pitches, 82 of them for strikes, as he gave up just six hits and one walk while striking out eight batters.
Castleton broke through in the fourth inning, starting with a triple by Jonathan Lindau and a single by Mitchell Caron that drove Lindau in. With runners on the corners, Matt Braman beat out a throw to first in an attempt at a double play, allowing Caron to score the go-ahead run.
With two outs in the fifth inning and a runner on second base, Lindau sent a blast over the fence in left-center field, extending the Spartan lead to 4-1. Castleton broke the game open in the sixth inning with three runs, as Braman led off with a double and eventually scored on a single by Pat Mumford. After the Spartans loaded the bases, Lindau drove in Mumford with a sacrifice fly to left field, and Caron sent a single into left field to score Deagan Poland.
The Spartans scored single runs in the seventh and eighth innings to complete the scoring. Caron finished the day 3-for-5 with two RBI, while Lindau went 2-for-2 with three runs scored and three RBI.
The Beavers were led by Bessey and Chase Malloy with 2-for-4 hitting performances. Starting pitcher Nate Pushard took the loss, allowing eight hits and four runs in five innings on the mound.