This baseball team is 20-9 overall and 10-0 in conference play, winning 18 of its last 20 games. Its top offensive player is abusing opposing pitching with a .405 batting average, five home runs and 38 RBI in 29 games.No, it’s not the New York Yankees. It’s the Castleton Spartans.
This Spartan baseball team has been on a rampage this past month, putting an end to any talk that the team would suffer from a loss of confidence after the heartbreaking defeat in the North Atlantic Conference championship game at the hands Husson University last season.
The latest helpless victim in the way of Castleton’s quest to return to the top of the NAC was Thomas College. Castleton swept the doubleheader matchup 5-2 in game one and 1-0 in game two.
Castleton sent Ken Cook to the hill in game one, looking to set the tempo for the weekend series right away. Cook did not disappoint as he threw seven innings, giving up just two earned runs on five hits while striking out nine batters.
Billy Manely led the way offensively in game one as he had two of the Spartans’ 10 hits in the game. He drove in three runs and also scored one for Castleton. Ryan Zielinski and Jack Lancelin also drove in runs in game one.
In game two, Castleton had Matt Greene on the hill. The junior pitcher continued his excellence on the mound, pitching a complete-game shutout, giving up just two hits. He stuck out 16 batters on the day. As of April 18, Greene is sporting a 4-0 record with a 1.74 ERA in 31 innings pitched.
David Brandt, four for four on the day, knocked in the only run of game two in the top of the ninth inning.
Even though Castleton has been an absolute powerhouse since March 21, coach Ted Shipley displayed modesty when talking about the team’s success this season.
“We are a work in progress. We’d like to become better than a good team,” he said. “For this to happen, we need to improve in all areas. Like most teams, we have some strengths and weaknesses and we have work [hard].”
Castleton, though, hasn’t seemed to show many weaknesses so far this season, and they looked especially good when they embarrassed Division III No. 18 nationally ranked Plattsburgh 18-4 on April 14.
“That was a freak game when everything happened just right. Plattsburgh is a nationally ranked team and we respect them,” Shipley said. “So it doesn’t happen that often that we play where everything goes right. The baseball gods shined on us that day. We understand this and keep things in perspective.”
Castleton’s next obstacle is Husson, who the Spartans will play four games against on the weekend of April 24.
Shipley says the Husson game will be a big challenge for his Spartans, but he thinks Castleton will be able to kick it up another notch against its rival team.
“We expect all close games with Husson because they are a solid team, and we plan to be playing better baseball when they come to town,” he said.