CASTLETON, Vt. – The Castleton baseball team was firing on all cylinders in the North Atlantic Conference Championship on Monday afternoon, belting a season-high 19 hits en route to a 22-5 victory over New England College to sweep the conference tournament and win its fifth consecutive title.
With the win, Castleton reached the 30-win mark for the fourth straight year, finished a perfect 13-0 at home, and improved to 30-10 overall. New England College saw its season come to an end with a 26-15 overall record.
Six Spartans recorded multi-hit performances, led by Davis Mikell, who went 4-for-5 with six RBI and three runs scored behind his fifth home run of the season. Pat Mumford finished with two hits and five RBI, while Jonathan Lindau and Dylan Bailey drove in three runs apiece.
Castleton wasted little time to open a comfortable lead, sending 13 batters to the plate and scoring nine runs – all with two outs -- in the bottom of the first. Mikell started it up with a double down the left field line and Lindau followed with an infield single. After NEC recorded the second out of the inning, Dillon Benham was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Bailey brought everybody home with a bases-clearing triple to right field.
Matt Braman, Steven Walsh, and Mumford continued the inning with back-to-back walks and a hit-by-pitch, before Mikell belted a grand slam well over the wall in right field to open a 9-0 lead for the Spartans.
The Spartans batted around the order again and added five runs in the second frame. Once again with the bases loaded and two outs, Mumford drove a two-run single into left, Deagan Poland singled to left field, and Lindau doubled down the left field line to score two more as Castleton opened a 14-0 lead with every run crossing the plate with two outs.
NEC struck for four runs in the top of the fourth. Xavier Nunez and Jameson Carey singled around a walk by Jeam Castillo to load the bases. Luis Atiles and Manuel Alejandro each reached base via an error before Manuel Andujar lifted a sacrifice fly to cut the deficit to 14-4.
Castleton kept the pedal down with two runs in the fourth before adding three runs apiece in the seventh and eighth innings apiece. Aaron Smith worked around a leadoff single in the ninth by inducing a double play and ending the game with a fly out as the Spartans secured their fifth straight title by a final score of 22-5.
Garrett Moran fired seven strong innings and improved to 5-0 on the mound, allowing five runs (two earned) on five hits with five strikeouts. Smith tossed two scoreless innings of relief and picked up two strikeouts.
Justin Carey and Nunez led the Pilgrims offensively with two hits apiece. Stanley Vargas started on the mound for the Pilgrims and took the loss, allowing seven runs over 0.2 innings of work.
Castleton earns the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Baseball Championship and will find out its destination when the NCAA releases the entire bracket on Sunday, May 13, at 11:59 p.m.
2018 NAC All-Tournament Team
Chase Malloy - UMaine-Farmington
Jake Bessey - UMaine-Farmington
Ryan Cordeiro - Lyndon
Andre Eason Jr. - Lyndon
Justin Carey - New England College
Jameson Carey - New England College
Shayne Audet - New England College
Joe Gratton - Castleton
Deagan Poland - Castleton
Garrett Moran - Castleton
Davis Mikell (MVP) - Castleton