Peaking at the right time


Spartan pitcher Garrett Moran has helped lead the team during its recent 9-1 stretch.

            There are only two words that can accurately describe the Castleton Baseball team: scorching hot.

            Over the past two weeks, the Spartans have gone 9-1. During which time they recorded four consecutive walk-off wins against Husson and were riding a 15-game win-streak before falling to Lyndon State 8-5 in the second game of a doubleheader on April 27. Castleton finished their regular season with a 25-10 overall record and a 19-3 record against NAC opponents. At home, the Spartans finished a perfect 10-0.

            The Spartans 15 game win-streak began with two wins in a doubleheader against Lyndon State on April 20. In game one, Cameron Goulet pitched a solid 6-inning outing, giving up only 3 hits and 2 unearned runs on route to a 4-2 Spartan victory. Game two was highlighted by an all-around offensive effort, as six of Castleton’s nine batters recorded a hit. The Spartans won that game 5-2.

            What came next was absolutely jaw dropping. In a four-game series against Husson, the Spartans won each game in the most exciting fashion in baseball: walk-offs.

            “I’ve never been a part of that in my entire life,” said first baseman Davis Mikell. “Four straight doesn’t even happen in the Majors. You maybe get back-to-back and that’s crazy. It was unbelievable.”

            It started with a doubleheader on April 21. Joe Gratton was dominant in game one, pitching a complete game and only allowing one earned run on just four hits. The game was tied at one a-piece in the seventh inning, all until Davis Mikell hit a double to centerfield, scoring Deagan Poland for the win. That was only the beginning.

            In the sixth inning of the next game, Jonathan Lindau hit a sacrifice fly that allowed Poland to score and tie the game 5-5. Jacob Nadeau pitched two strong innings in relief, giving up no hits to the six batters he faced. The game went into the eighth inning, and once again Mikell was the hero. He hit a single to right field, scoring Poland once again for a 6-5 victory and their second straight walk-off.

            The second doubleheader began on April 22. Castleton came into the game with some momentum, building a 4-0 lead after three innings, courtesy of three doubles hit by Lindau, Mitchell Caron, and Mikell. In the sixth, however, Husson’s Sam Huston hit a 3-run home run to left field, pulling the game within one run. In the bottom of the seventh, Husson completed their comeback and tied the game 4-4. Which did not last long. Caron hit a hard ground ball to third in the bottom of the seventh, causing an error which allowed Mikell to score the game-winning run.

            In game four, Husson struck first with two runs in the top of the third. In the bottom half of the inning, Castleton bounced back. Two RBI groundouts from Deagan Poland and Davis Mikell tied the game up at 2-2. In the fifth, Alex Chapman put Husson on top with an RBI double. Aaron Smith and Andy Kenosh each pitched a scoreless relief inning to keep the game a one-run deficit. Headed into the seventh inning, the score was 3-2.

            Andrew Graciano reached first base on an error and Matt Braman came in to pinch-run. Braman advanced to second base after a sacrifice bunt from Poland. Mikell was intentionally walked, and Braman made it to third base on a sacrifice fly from Lindau. The Spartans had runners on first and third base with 2 outs. The pressure was on, but Caron delivered with a 2-run double to right field, completing the storybook finish of four walk-offs in a row.

            “To me, it’s not my preference,” said head coach Ted Shipley with a laugh. “Every game you have to compete for all 7 innings. Some games you lead from start to finish, some games you fall behind, they catch up, whatever might happen.”

            Shipley touched on his team’s resiliency, and the Spartans carried their momentum into their next game, beating New England College 12-8 in a come -from-behind victory.

            “This was a good one,” stated Coach Shipley. “This was our biggest overcome deficit.”

            Game two was highlighted by a dominant performance by starting pitcher Garrett Moran. He pitched six innings, allowing two earned runs on three hits and struck out four. That game brought Moran to a 4-0 record with an ERA of 1.95 and 37 total strikeouts on the season. Moran contributed his success to his command.

            “I’ve been able to command my changeup which is a little different for me,” he said with a smile, “It is really nice actually. My fastball command as well.”

            Moran’s performance led Castleton to a 4-2 victory. Coach Shipley continued his praise for his team’s resiliency.

“They’re getting better at competing start to finish. I think that they like each other and they play hard for each other,” Shipley said.

            Davis Mikell was impressed as well.

“There’s a lot of resiliency in this team,” he said. “Even though we’re a little young, everyone knows their spot, and anybody one through nine can come up, put the ball in play, and do big things. We’re driving balls the other way, we’re getting timely hits, and moving people over when we need to. It’s a team effort.”

            The Spartans followed up with yet another doubleheader against Lyndon State on Friday, April 27. They won the first game, 4-2, bringing their win-streak to 15 games. Goulet pitched a complete game, giving up only two runs on four hits.

Unfortunately in game two, the win-streak was snapped after the Hornets had a strong offensive showing. The Spartans fell 8-5 after their late-rally comeback bid came up short in the seventh inning.

The Spartans will look to secure the number one spot in the NAC conference in a doubleheader at Colby Sawyer College on May 1. Playoffs begin on May 4. 

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