Spartans Fall to No. 21 USM, 5-3, in NCAA Regional Opener

Spartans Fall to No. 21 USM, 5-3, in NCAA Regional Opener

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The Castleton baseball team struck first and took a one-run lead in the fifth inning, but nationally-ranked Southern Maine fought back late to earn the 5-3 victory in an NCAA Regional first-round matchup Thursday at the Onondaga Community College Baseball Complex.

Jonathan Lindau led Castleton offensively, going 3-for-4 with a double and a run scored. Deagan Poland and Zach Bahan each tallied a hit and an RBI.

Castleton (34-9) opened the scoring with a run in the top of the first. Poland worked a walk to start the game, and after stealing second, advanced to third on a wild pitch. One batter later, Bahan punched a single into centerfield to give the Spartans a 1-0 lead.

Southern Maine (31-11) responded with a run on four hits in the bottom of the first. The first four USM hitters singled, but with the bases loaded Devin Hayes induced a double play and a strikeout to escape the inning with the score 1-1.

The Spartans regained the lead in the top of the fifth, with hits coming on both ends of nearly a three-hour rain delay. Lindau led the frame off with a single to left field, before torrential downpours, thunder, and lightning swiped through the area. After play resumed, Lindau advanced to second and third by way of two wild pitches, and Poland scored him on a two-out RBI single up the middle.

The Huskies responded once more to tie the game with a run in the bottom of the fifth. Devin Warren and Andrew Olszak both singled before Kip Richard took first base on a catcher's interference call. With the bases loaded, Matt Bender beat out an infield single to score the tying run and make the score 2-2. Michael LaBeau entered the game from the bullpen and escaped the jam with a key inning-ending strikeout.

Southern Maine continued its pressure in the sixth, however, scoring two runs on three hits. Andrew Hillier and Warren singled before Zach Quintal walked to load the bases. Olszak followed with a two-RBI single up the middle to give Southern Maine its first lead of the game, 4-2.

The Spartans chipped away with one run in the top of the seventh, as Matt Jackson walked and later scored on an RBI-groundout by Dylan Bailey. That was as close as Castleton could get, as Southern Maine added an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh and went on to win, 5-3.

Hayes started on the mound for Castleton, but did not factor in the decision. Hayes scattered 10 hits over 4.2 innings, allowing two earned runs with three strikeouts. LaBeau (5-4) shouldered the loss, allowing three earned runs on four hits with two walks and four strikeouts over 3.1 innings of relief. 

Castleton will play Ithaca in an elimination game Friday morning at 11 a.m.