With two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning and runners on the corners, the Spartans watched as Peter Wagner stepped up to the plate. The left-handed hitter pulled a single past the dive of Husson University’s second baseman into right field, giving Castleton a 5-4 win over its division rival on April 15.
“All I can really say about that at bat was that I really wanted it. I was preparing for that at bat when we started the seventh inning and I tried to keep myself calm and relaxed during the at bat,” Wagner said. “I never had a game winning hit like that in my life, and selfishly I wanted to be the one to win the game.”
The walk-off win gave the Spartans their third win over the Eagles in two days, and may have set the tone for future games should the teams meet again in the North Eastern Atlantic Conference playoffs that begin on April 27.
“Everything they do with 100 percent effort, so beating a team with a work ethic like them three of four was really good for us,” said Ryan Zielinski, who scored the winning run. “It was a huge series that we took care of.”
Pat Riley started the game for Castleton, but did not factor into the decision as he gave up three runs in four innings. Derek Osborne, however, pitched well in relief for the Spartans, allowing them to get back into the game.
Castleton got on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning as Wagner hit a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1.
After a scoreless fifth inning from Osborne, Castleton tacked on another run when Macyn Clifford took Evan Eldridge deep with a solo shot to lead off the bottom of the fifth. Joe Borowski gave Castleton the tying run when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
Castleton took their first lead of the game in the bottom of the sixth when Clifford hit another bomb over the left field wall.
Osborne, who hadn’t given up a hit yet, ran into trouble with one out in the top of the seventh when Dylan Foster hit a deep triple to right field. Foster then scored on a wild pitch to Kyle Vanidestine, tying the game once again.
Osborne struck Vanidestine out and got the next batter to fly out to right.
“When the pitch squeezed between the catcher’s [Matt Pause] legs it was devastating because I thought I was about to blow the game for my team,” Osborne said. “What was even more frustrating was that I struck the batter out on the very next pitch.”
Despite giving up the lead, Zielinski was proud of the way Osborne pitched.
“That’s the most hyped up I’ve ever seen Derek. These games brought out a lot of emotions in players, and it just speaks of how big this rivalry is between us,” he said. “Derek was phenomenal, and we couldn’t have asked more from him, he threw strikes and kept us in the ball game.”
Nate Adams, who gave up just one run in a four-hit complete game against Castleton the day before, came in to greet the Spartan offense for the bottom of the seventh inning.
After Cameron Curler grounded out to start the inning, Zielinski came up big with a base hit to left.
“Adam’s really pitched well that first game against us, and the more he pitches, the stronger he gets, so I just thought get on base and whoever was behind me in the lineup will do the job to get me in,” Zielinski said.
Borowski lined out to center, but Zak Mayo came through for Castleton and extended the inning with a single to right, moving Zielinski to third.
Wagner came to the plate and ended game with a great at bat.
“Peter is an experienced player and everyone had a lot of faith in him which makes us such a good team,” said Osborne, who got the win.
Zielinski echoed his teammate’s thoughts.
“Pete has had a great year and has had some big hits along the way, no better person than him to get a big hit like that,” he said. “I had all the confidence in the world he would get me in.”
With the three wins this weekend, Castleton moves to 20-10 overall and 15-1 in conference play.
The Spartans will next take on Colby-Sawyer in a double header on April 19.
“Even though we won the previous two games, the past doesn’t matter,” Osborne said. “Anything can happen in baseball so we are treating them just as any other team and going to play Castleton baseball.”