While the weather and the fans may have been freezing cold all day long, the Castleton State College baseball bats were blazing as the Spartans defeated their North Atlantic Conference rival, Lyndon State College, in both games of their doubleheader matchup on Saturday, April 11.The Spartans took game 1 with a score of 26-1 and game 2 with a score of 9-1.
In the first game, the Spartan offense smoked Lyndon’s starter, Jeremy Schichtle, scoring twice in the first inning and tagging the freshman for 13 runs in just four innings. Despite the firestorm that Schichtle faced, it was reliever Ryan Little who most felt the Spartan heat in his 1.1 innings pitched. The Spartans feasted on Little’s offerings, cranking out seven hits and 11 runs.
The Spartan offense was fueled by the key spots of its lineup.
David Raczka and Aaron Zrenda both came through in the leadoff and cleanup spots of the batting order as Raczka went 4-5 and Zrenda went 3-4. Both players also drove in four runs in the game. Billy Manley was also dialed in, ripping four hits in five at bats and knocking in two runs from the fifth spot.
Spartan coach Ted Shipley was proud of the way his offense took control, scoring a run in every inning of the game.
“I thought our offense did well,” Shipley said. “We work hard on approach and having good at bats. We had those.”
Will LaRose got the nod to take the mound for the Spartans in game one. After a little bit of a rough first inning due to two Spartan errors and a hit batter, LaRose settled down and got into a groove of mowing down the Hornet hitters. LaRose ended the day after pitching five innings, giving up just two hits and one run.
“Thought I threw pretty good,” said LaRose. “I shouldn’t have gave up any hits, hung some change pieces.”
After a brief intermission that gave the fans and the players the opportunity to get the feeling back in their fingers, the Spartans went right back to work.
Facing a 1-1 tie after the top of the fourth inning, Castleton came back with its red-hot bats in the bottom of the frame, knocking in two runs. The Spartans added the final six runs of the game with three runs in the fifth inning and three runs in the sixth.
Billy Sisko pitched a complete game despite allowing seven walks. His only spot of trouble came in the fourth inning when he was faced with the task of getting out of a bases-loaded jam with just one out. Sisko was ready for the task, though, and collected two of his nine strikeouts in the game, smothering any confidence the Hornets may have had.
“I wasn’t exactly happy with my performance,” said Sisko. “I mean I had nine strikeouts and only one run scored, but I wanted more than that.”
These two games against the Hornets were just the last two in a series of four games against Lyndon that began on Friday, April 10. The Spartans won both Friday games as well with scores of 17-5 and 18-1.
Perhaps none of the Spartans is sadder to see the Hornets leave than Manley, who turned into a one-man Hornet swatter. In the four games against the Hornets, Manley went 12-18 with 10 RBI.
“It was nice to see,” said Shipley. “He’s a hard worker, a good kid, and he deserved to have a weekend like this. Hopefully, it will be a start for him and he can build upon this.”
The Spartans will find out if this will be a start for him and if they can continue their offensive fire as they host Southern Vermont in a NAC game on April 15.
Sisko is confident about the Spartans’ future.
“We’re in first place in our conference, and we plan to stay there,” he said. “I think our team has done well, but there is a lot of room for improvement.