Baseball clinches top seed

The Castleton State baseball team is fresh off of a four game sweep after hosting Thomas on April 21. The Spartans came out of the weekend as the top seed in the NAC conference and are looking forward to playoffs.

The Spartans dominated the first two games winning 9-1 and 11-6. The offensive weapons were abundant for Castleton and they struck early giving pitcher Conner Johnson the run support he needed. Ryan Zielinski started off with a one-out double and the following batter walked. Connor Hoagland stepped up to the plate and delivered after a double steal with a one run base hit.

Up next was Matt McNamee, who knocked in two runners with a single of his own. The inning finally came to an end after Allen White drove one up the middle to have McNamee score.

The run support seemed to come to a sudden halt until the sixth inning when the Spartans came out and scored five more runs for their side. Zielinski opened the inning with a double and then scored on a double by Joe Borowski. Hoagland reached on an infield single and then stole second, moving Borowski to third.

The following batter hit into a fielder’s choice scoring Borowski when Thomas shortstop overthrew the third basemen allowing Hoagland to reach the plate. Tyler Lord drove in the Spartans final two runs on a line drive up the middle.

The Terriers were able to score a run in the final half of the seventh but it was not enough. Lefty Adam Greenlese got the call for the second game improving to 7-0 on the year after six innings allowing six hits and only a pair of earned runs.

Zielinksi proved to be the spark for the Spartans offense and started the game off again with a hit. A few batters later he scored on a hit-by-pitch from McNamee.

Tyler Lord added to his day with another RBI single followed by a perfect double steal with Mat Pause.
The next inning the Spartans tacked on two more runs extending their lead to 5-0. The top of the fourth gave Thomas some hope and they cut the Spartans lead in half. The response from Castleton was a five-run pounding the next inning, extending the lead to 10-2.

Relief pitcher Ethan Hanson allowed the Terriers to score four in the top half of the seventh until he eventually shut them down helping his team to a 11-6 victory. A new day spawned a new chance for the Terriers to beat
their opponents, but the Spartans proved to be too much for Thomas and came out on top both games on

It was clear the Terriers were sick of being beaten as Anree Benitez ripped an RBI double, followed by an RBI groundout by Cody Vigue, giving Thomas a 2-0 lead.

Cam Curler started the rally the next inning with an RBI single and Lord knocked another RBI double a couple batters later. Zielinski continued his performance at the plate as he and Hoagland both had another RBI single that inning.

Hoagland launched a double to the left-center gap the following inning giving the Spartans their 5-3 lead, which was the final score of the first game. Coach Ted Shipley was please with his teams performance.

“We had a good weekend and for the most part had really good at bats from all players, especially on Saturday. The second day we still had good at bats but not as much. We can certainly get better in all
areas,” he said.

The Spartans had taken 3 of 3 so far in the weekend and the final game proved to be the one to watch. Castleton’s Patrick Riley and Thomas’ Eric Sucy battled it out in a pitchers duel and the game was scoreless through the first four. In the bottom of the fifth, Mat Pause led it off with a single and Lord followed with a well-placed bunt single to put runners at the corners. Pause scored on a fielders’ choice by Zielinski giving his team a 1-0 lead.

Riley showed some signs of fatigue in the seventh but quickly regained composure and shut down the Terriers completing the weekend sweep.

“Were just trying to put ourselves in good position in our conference. I know that each of the teams that are in the tournament when it comes are going to be a good test,” Shipley said. “If you look at our record you might think oh wow we have a dominant record but a lot of those games have been close. Baseball is a game where
anyone can win on any given day.”

The Spartans improve to 23-7 on the season and 20-2 in conference. They move on to take on Plymouth State on Wednesday, April 24, and wrap up their conference schedule on Saturday April 27 at Lyndon State.

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