CASTLETON, Vt. – The Spartans belted three home runs in the a back-breaking eighth inning and homered four times overall to surge into the North Atlantic Conference Title game with a 12-1 victory over Thomas on Saturday morning at Spartan Field.
Castleton led just 4-1 before scoring six times in the eighth inning, punctuated by home runs from Tyler Hoare, Nick Swim and Dan Errico. Hoare added another home run in the ninth to cap off his impressive day. The senior finished the day 3-for-5 with five RBI while Swim added three hits and five RBI as well.
The game started as a pitcher's duel and Castleton's Sam Spencer was up to the test. The junior went the first 6.0 innings and gave up just five hits and one earned run while striking out three batters to earn the win. Reliever Mike LeBeau was lights-out over the final 3.0 innings, not allowing a hit and striking out a single batter.
Castleton extended its lead in the sixth inning as two of the first three runners reached. Hoare came up and drilled a ball over the centerfielder's head for a 2 RBI double and a 3-0 advantage. Soren Pelz-Walsh added an RBI on a fielder's choice to make it 4-0.
In the bottom of the frame, Thomas finally got on the board. Anree Benitez led off with a single and with one out Derek Kane and Nik Beeson both singled to load the bases. Matt Romandetti followed with an RBI single up the middle to cut the deficit to just 4-1. However, Jim Buckley made a nice pick at first on a grounder by Michel De Los Santos and tagged first before going to second for the inning-ending double play.
Thomas wouldn't get another hit as the Spartans exploded for eight runs in the final two innings.
Buckley walked to lead off the eighth and Hoare followed with a two-run shot over the fence in left field. Bahan singled and Lord reached on an error, bringing up Swim with two outs. The lefty pulled the ball over the right field fence to push the lead to 9-1. Just a few pitches later, Errico went yard for the 10-1 advantage.
Hoare led off the ninth with his second home run and Swim finished the scoring by singling home Pelz-Walsh with two outs. LaBeau sent the Terriers down in order to secure the save in the bottom of the frame.
Isiah Fleming took the loss, going 6.0 innings and giving up four runs, two earned, while walking three and striking out four. No Thomas player had more than one hit on the day, though Benitez went 1-for-2 with a run and two walks.
Castleton advances to tomorrow NAC Championship game at 10 am. They will play the No. 3 seed Thomas, who upset second-seeded Husson 5-2 on Saturday afternoon.