The trip started out departing from the university at 3 a.m. The flight out of Albany Airport was at 6 a.m.
The Castleton baseball team was supposed to land at Midway in Chicago, but had to make an unexpected landing in Milwaukee due to fog. Head coach Ted Shipley then brought the team together and stated, “Midway is shut down for the day, and not letting flights land. Southwest said they will get us shuttles to transport us to Midway.”
After sitting around the Milwaukee Airport for six hours trying to find a way to the sunshine state, they hopped on a bus to Chicago, wondering if they’d get to California at all.
Southwest Airlines was having trouble finding a flight that could fit the whole team. After a long two nights in a Chicago hotel, the team was to be split up into two.
One group was going to Dallas, Texas then to Ontario, then California. The other group had a direct flight to California.
After finally getting to the hotel in California, they were surprised to see where they would be staying the rest of the week. The place had a full kitchen with two full baths, and five beds. Patrick Mumford, a junior on the team, was perplexed.
“Really nice, but not enough space for seven people to a room,” he said.
The team was then off to its first game and made a statement that a small college from Vermont can handle the competition in California The Spartans won their first game 6-3 against the Pomona Sagehens.
The rest of the trip was a little more humbling and they ended up winning only one of four games.
Beating the reigning national champions Cal Lutheran was the other glorifying win when they were able to sneak out winning 5-2 in extras.
Mitchell Caron, who went 2-5 with two doubles and two runs batted in described the game as “exhilarating.”
It was one of the biggest wins in Castleton baseball history, assistant coach Matt Ravey added.
For others on the team, however, the trip was more than just baseball.
Family members who flew out along with the team were able to see their sons compete at a high level of competition. Others were able to see distant family they haven’t seen in years.
Andrew Graciano, a junior on the team, was able to see family he hasn’t seen in nearly 10 years.
“It was amazing to see family out here because I don’t really have much family around Vermont other than my immediate family… It was really pretty special and also found out that my grandfather was still alive who I haven’t seen in years!” he said.
Graciano’s two aunts, along with his little cousin, were able to come watch him play and they also brought treats for the entire team.
They dished out homemade burritos and some team members even said it was the best one they ever had.
The trip was rugged and seemed to last for weeks with them playing every single day along with two double-headers, a practice in Chicago, and early mornings and late nights.