CASTLETON, Vt. --- The Thomas College baseball team dropped its opening game at the 2016 North Atlantic Conference (NAC) Tournament, 5-3, to host Castleton University Friday morning at Spartan Field.
The loss drops the fourth-seeded Terriers (19-19) into the consolation side of the bracket, where they will face either No. 2 Husson or No. 3 UMaine-Farmington at 3:30 p.m. Friday afternoon.
Game 1: Castleton 5, Thomas 3
Dillon Benham drove gave Castleton a 1-0 lead in the second inning with an RBI single up the middle that scored Jim Buckley.
The Terriers responded with a run in the top of third when Alex Curtis (so., Monmouth, Maine / Monmouth Academy) scored when Anree Benitez (sr., Orlando, Fla. / University) hit into a fielder's choice.
The Spartans retook the lead with three runs in the bottom of the third inning. Taylor Vile drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on a passed ball before scoring on a Nick Swim RBI double to right center. Dan Errico followed by sending a Matt Rutherford (so., Saco, Maine / Thornton Academy) pitch over the left-field wall for a two-run home run.
Neither team was able to crack the scoring column in the fourth or fifth innings, but Castleton added an insurance run in the sixth when Nick Patierne scored when Taylor Vile reached on an error. The Spartans stranded three in the frame - one that saw Rutherford lifted in favor of Dominic Esposito (jr., Portland, Maine / Deering) with two outs and the bases loaded. Esposito got Errico to fly out to end the inning.
Thomas plated a pair of runs in the eighth inning. Derek Kane (sr., Natick, Mass. / Natick) started the rally with a one-out single through the right side and scored on an RBI double by Nik Beeson (sr., Manchester, N.H. / Trinity). Zach Mathieu (fr., Oakland, Maine / Messalonskee) followed with an RBI single to right center to score Beeson and Michael De Los Santos (so., Robstown, Texas / Robstown) singled up the middle to put a pair of runners on, but the Terriers would get no more.
The Terriers threatened to tie the game in the ninth but stranded the tying run at second base. Joe Quinlan (sr., Westbrook, Maine / Westbrook) reached on a one-out single off Castleton relieiver Michael LaBeau but was erased when Benitez reached on another fielder's choice. Kane followed with a single down the left-field line, advancing to second when an unsuccessful attempt was made to get Benitez out at third. The rally was contained, however, when Beeson grounded out to short to end the game.
Kane had a pair of hits, including a double, to lead Thomas.
Rutherford allowed five runs on seven hits and four walks while striking out one in 5 2/3 innings. Esposito pitched the final 2 1/3 innings, scattering two hits and striking out one without allowing a run.
Mitchell Caron and Benham each had two hits for the Spartans.
Sam Spencer picked up the win, allowing three runs on six hits and a walk while striking out seven in eight innings. LaBeau allowed two ninth-inning hits en route to his first save of the season.