CASTLETON, Vt. – After seeing its eight-game winning streak snapped earlier this week, along with its first loss at Spartan Field in nearly two years, the Castleton baseball team looks to get back on track on the road with a key four-game North Atlantic Conference series against UMaine-Farmington on Friday and Saturday.
The Spartans will face off with UMaine-Farmington in a doubleheader starting at 4 p.m. on Friday, before finishing the series with another twinbill on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The four-game set will be played at Husson.
Castleton (11-5) was riding high after belting 11 home runs and scoring 29 runs over two games early in the week, but the bats were cooled by Colby-Sawyer in the middle of the week with just one run produced over 14.0 innings. Despite two complete games with one earned run combined over 14.0 innings pitched, Davis Mikell and Steven Jurkiewicz suffered their first losses of the season on the mound as the Chargers took two from the Spartans on Wednesday.
Castleton's pitching staff entered the week ranked 12th in the land with a 2.97 ERA, and it has only been lowered since then to 2.61 heading into the weekend. The Spartan staff has 124 strikeouts in 124 innings pitched this season. Mikell leads the team and the NAC with a 1.23 earned run average. At 2-1 overall, Mikell has nearly twice as many strikeouts (25) as hits allowed (14). With two complete games, the freshman has allowed three earned runs in 22.0 innings pitched. Devin Hayes is 3-0 on the mound and 1-0 in the NAC after pitching a complete-game shutout in a win over New England College. Hayes leads the Spartans with 26 strikeouts on the season, allowing just four earned runs in 20.0 innings for a 1.80 ERA. Michael LaBeau has an impressive 1.80 ERA in 20.0 innings pitched, allowing just four earned runs with 19 strikeouts on the season. Jurkiewicz has recorded 15 strikeouts in 19.0 innings pitched en route to a 1.89 ERA.
Deagan Poland leads Castleton in batting average (.413) and on-base percentage (.471), and has recorded a hit in 14 of 16 games this season. The sophomore outfielder has 15 stolen bases to go with seven RBI and two doubles. Dylan Bailey is batting .340 with five doubles and one home run, while Jonathan Lindau has five doubles and two home runs to go with 10 RBI on his way to a .321 average. Mikell is batting .370 on the season and has a .648 slugging percentage with three home runs, joining Dillon Benham and Zach Bahan for the team-lead in round-trippers. Matt Jackson is batting .321 on the year and has a hit in five straight games.
UMaine-Farmington (2-9, 2-2) is coming off a pair of losses to Colby and Daniel Webster on Tuesday. The Beavers lost 7-0 to the Mules in the opening game, before giving up a 7-1 lead en route to an 8-7 loss to the Eagles in the nightcap. UMF is 2-2 in the NAC after splitting doubleheaders with Thomas and Husson earlier this season.
UMaine-Farmington's offense has been off the pace to start the season, batting just .255 as a team. Derek Bowen leads the offense in batting average (.412), on-base percentage (.429), and slugging percentage (.441). The freshman utility player has 10 RBI with 14 hits and has gone down on strikes just three times in 34 at-bats. Senior catcher Jordan Croteau has scored eight runs and recorded 11 hits, including three doubles, on his way to a .289 batting average in 38 at-bats. Jimmy Parks has also contributed 11 hits in 38 at-bats for a .289 batting average.
The Beavers pitching staff has a team ERA of 5.42. Riley Chickering and Ryan Pratt have the wins on the mound for the Beavers. Chickering is 1-1 in three starts with a 5.12 ERA to go with seven strikeouts in 19.1 innings pitched. He has worked around the zone through his first three starts, allowing just two free bases thus far. Mark Leahy is second on the team with 6.1 innings pitched and has allowed four earned runs with two strikeouts for a 5.68 ERA. Pratt has made four appearances out of the bullpen this season, striking out six over 7.2 innings pitched with a 5.87 ERA. Chad Snowman looks to be another key contributor out of the bullpen, holding a 0.00 ERA spanning four appearances with two strikeouts and a save.
The Spartans have controlled the matchup of late, winning 13 straight dating back to 2014. The last time these two teams met was in 2016 for a four-game series at Spartan Field, where Castleton outscored UMF 25-5 over the two days to earn the season sweep.