AUBURN, N.Y. – The Castleton baseball team could not come back from an early deficit on Wednesday as it dropped its first game of the NCAA Tournament to No. 1 Cortland by a final score of 14-4 at Falcon Park.
The Spartans fall to 32-11 overall on the season with the loss and will play the loser of the matchup between Ramapo and Union tomorrow at 11 am. Cortland improves to 38-5 on the season with the victory.
Mitchell Caron was 2-for-4 with an RBI in the game for Castleton, while Jim Buckley had an RBI double in the loss. Taylor Vile chipped in with a 2-for-4 game while scoring once. Sam Spencer shouldered the loss, going 5.0 innings and allowing eight runs, five earned, on 12 hits while striking out three. Aaron Smith worked 1.2 scoreless innings of relief for the Spartans in the contest.
Tanner Whiteman picked up his eighth win of the season for Cortland, going 7.1 innings and allowing four runs, three earned, on eight hits while striking out eight. Steven Figueroa paced the Cortland offense, going 3-for-5 with three RBIs and two doubles. Austin Clock was 2-for-5 with a two-run home run in the game.
The Spartans got a runner to scoring position in the first inning, as Vile singled up the middle and advanced on a groundout, but Vile was stranded at second base to bring up the Red Dragons in the first.
The potent offense of Cortland didn't wait around, as after a leadoff fly out, the hosts had five consecutive batters reach base en route to four runs. After an RBI single by Fabio Ricci, Clock knocked a two-run home run over the right-field fence to push the Cortland lead to 3-0. A double by Conrad Ziemendorf led to a run when Paul Dondero sent a base hit through the right side to make it 4-0 after one inning of play.
After the Spartans threatened once more in the second inning but failed to score, Cortland came back with more runs in the home half of the frame. A leadoff single by Nick Hart turned into a run, when, on a hit-and-run, Figueroa lined a double into the gap in left center to score Hart from first base. Figueroa then came around to score on an RBI groundout by Ziemendorf.
The Spartans rallied for three runs in the third inning, as Castleton's first three batters reached base. A leadoff single by Deagan Poland got the inning started before Vile and Nick Swim walked to load the bases for the heart of the order. A sacrifice fly by Dan Errico got the Spartans into the run column, before Buckley made it a 6-2 game with a double to the gap in right center. Caron followed Buckley with what looked to be a base hit up the middle, but a nice play by the Red Dragons' shortstop cut down Caron at first for the second out of the inning. The Spartans still pushed across a run on the groundout, drawing closer at 6-3.
After a scoreless fourth inning for both sides, Castleton drew closer in the fifth inning. Swim singled to lead off the inning and moved to second on a groundout by Errico before coming around to score on a fielding error by Cortland to make it a 6-4 ballgame.
The Red Dragons bounced back with a pair of unearned runs in the bottom of the fifth, as Figueroa tacked on a two-run single with two outs in the inning to push the Cortland lead to 8-4.
Cortland extended its lead to 14-4 with three runs in both the sixth and seventh innings, highlighted by a two-run double into the right-field corner by Patrick Schetter in the latter frame to give the game its final score.