CASTLETON, Vt. – Castleton fell behind 5-2 early on, but fought back to force extra innings and Dan Errico's solo shot in the top of the 12th lifted Castleton to a 7-5 victory over the Husson Eagles in today's North Atlantic Conference Tournament contest at Spartan Field.
The Spartans were tied at 5-5 when Errico stepped up to the plate. The senior outfielder took a few pitches before sending a solo shot over the left field fence. Deagan Poland added an RBI-single later in the 12th to ensure that Castleton picked up its 31st win of the season and sealed its spot in tomorrow's NAC Championship. The Eagles, meanwhile, rebounded from the loss by beating Thomas 6-1 in game five of the tournament to also advance to Sunday's game, which will take place at 10 am.
Poland delivered the best performance of his career this afternoon, collecting a career-high five hits with two RBIs and two runs scored. Errico finished the day with two RBIs and one run scored, while Mitchell Caron went 1-for-3 with three walks and one run scored. For Husson, three different players turned in a multi-hit display, led by Mike Wong's 3-for-6 outing. Christian Corneil went 2-for-5 with a double, whereas Sam Huston finished the day with one hit and a pair of runs scored.
Charles Stapleford took a no-decision after tossing six innings with five runs allowed and five strikeouts. Aaron Smith tossed an impressive two innings of shutout relief, while Michael LaBeau closed out the game with four innings of one-hit baseball to pick up his fourth win of the year. Ben Holmes took the loss for the Eagles after allowing two runs in four innings of work.
Castleton struck first with a run in the top of the first to take an early lead. Poland hit a chopper up the middle for the first hit of the game, and Taylor Vile moved him to second in the next at-bat with a sacrifice bunt. Nick Swim reached base via error, and with runners on the corners and one out, Errico mashed a sacrifice fly to center that gave the top-seeded Spartans a one-run lead.
Just two innings later, Castleton was at it again, pushing another run across to double the lead. Poland led off with a single up the middle, and Vile followed with a double to deep right center to bring him home and give the squad a 2-0 advantage.
Husson got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth, cutting its deficit back to one. Wong ripped a double down the left field line and moved to third on a grounder from J.T. Whitten. In the next at-bat, Julien Boone slapped a ball between the first and second basemen that allowed Wong to score and make it 2-1.
The Spartans seemed poised to break the game open in the top of the fifth when they loaded the bases with just one out, but Ben Walls got Zach Bahan to hit into an inning-ending double play to get out of the jam. In the bottom of half of the frame, Husson took the lead after producing two runs from two hits. Ryan Rebar started the two-out rally with a line drive, RBI single through the left side of the infield. After advancing to second, Wong smacked a base hit to center to bring Rebar home and give Husson its first lead of the day, 3-2.
The Eagles tacked on another two runs in the next frame to push their lead to three. A controversial call on a fly ball hit to center put runners in scoring position with one out, and Husson took advantage, as Corniel ripped a single up the middle to plate the first run of the inning. Alex Chapman followed with a groundout to short that scored another run and put Husson in front, 5-2.
Castleton wasn't done, however, as the club fought back with three runs spread out over the seventh and eighth innings to tie the game at five. Vile and Swim ripped back-to-back singles to start the seventh, and two batters later, Bahan's double down the left field line brought both runners home to make it 5-4. In the eighth, Dillon Benham started another rally with a two-out single before moving to second on a balk. Poland capped it off with an RBI single to even the score at five.
After three scoreless innings of play, the Spartans reclaimed the lead in the top of the 12th thanks to Errico's second home run, a solo shot, of the tournament. Poland later beat out a chopper down the third-base line to plate another run and LaBeau shut the door in the bottom half of the frame to bring the game to its final score, 7-5.