CASTLETON, Vt. – Castleton extended its winning streak to 18 games and completed the season sweep over New England College this afternoon after taking both games in today's doubleheader by scores of 4-1 and 19-3.
With the victories, the Spartans improve to 26-9 overall and 18-2 in the conference and have secured the top seed for the 2016 NAC Tournament, which will take place on May 6-8 at Castleton University. The Pilgrims, meanwhile, have now lost ten straight with this afternoon's defeats.
The Spartans struggled to score runs in the opener, but Luke Salerno tossed a gem to lead Castleton to a 4-1 victory. The junior right-hander went seven innings with just six hits allowed, one earned run and five strikeouts to pick up his fifth win of the season. Kyle Bernier took the loss for the Pilgrims despite going the distance with just four earned runs.
The Spartans had four players record two hits and totaled 11 as a team. Nick Swim continued his stellar season at the plate, going 2-for-4 with one run scored. Taylor Vile provided two hits and scored two runs, while Dan Errico picked up two RBIs via the sacrifice fly. For NEC, Zachary Carrano led the way with two hits and one run scored, while Miguel Alejandro brought in the lone Pilgrim run of the game.
In the bottom of the first, Errico drove in the first run of the day with a sacrifice fly to right before Zach Bahan ripped a pitch down the leftfield line to score another and hand the club a two-run lead. The Pilgrims responded with their lone run of the game in the next frame to cut the deficit back to one. With the bases loaded and nobody out, Alejandro knocked an RBI single to right to make it 2-1. The visitors stranded three runners in the second, as Salerno recorded back-to-back strikeouts and got Shawn Queen to groundout to third to get out of the jam.
Neither team was able to create any offensive momentum until the bottom of the fifth when Errico produced his second sacrifice fly of the day. In the sixth, Nick Patierne's grounder scored a run to push the Castleton lead to three, and Salerno closed the door with a pair of strikeouts in the seventh to secure a 4-1 victory.
The Spartans fell behind 2-0 in the top of the first, but stormed back with 15 runs in the following two innings en route to a 19-3 victory over the Pilgrims in the series finale.
Castleton put on a dominating performance, collecting 15 hits and scoring the most runs since beating Norwich 23-0 in 2013. Errico delivered his best hitting display of the season, going 3-for-3 with a double, triple, two walks and seven RBIs. Swim produced three hits to extend his hitting streak to 25 games, while Dillon Benham went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs.
Charles Stapleford picked up his fifth win of the season after tossing six innings of three-run (one earned) baseball. The Pilgrims, meanwhile, had six different pitchers appear in the game, with Brendan Holloran taking the loss after allowing five runs without recording an out.
After producing just one run in the opener, the Pilgrims got off to a quick start in game two with a pair of runs in the top of the first. With two on and two out, Mitchell Caron's low throw to second bounced past Vile, allowing the first run to score. Garrett Waldron followed with a run-scoring single up the middle to hand the visitors a two-run lead.
That advantage didn't last long, however, as the Spartans erupted for ten runs from seven hits in the bottom half of the frame. Errico opened the scoring with a two-run liner through the left side of the infield before Bahan doubled down the leftfield line to bring him home. Jim Buckley then produced an RBI single and Benham followed with a triple down the right field line to plate him. Castleton went on to score three more runs before Errico capped off the scoring in the first with a two-run double to make it 10-2.
The Pilgrims got one back in the second, but Castleton maintained the momentum with five runs in the second. Benham and Vile ripped a pair of RBI singles before Errico mashed a bases-clearing triple to put the Spartans in front by 12.
Castleton was able to tack on four more runs in the final four innings of play, and in the top of the seventh, Zac Harrington retired the side in order to capture a 19-3 victory over the Pilgrims and secure the season series.
The Spartans close out their regular season this weekend with a NAC home-and-home series against the Lyndon Hornets. Castleton hosts Lyndon tomorrow afternoon at 2 pm for the opening doubleheader before travelling to Lyndonville, Vt. on Saturday to close out the series.