Baseball Tops UMF to Stave Off Elimination at NAC Championships

Baseball Tops UMF to Stave Off Elimination at NAC Championships

CASTLETON, Vt. --- The Thomas College baseball team scored five runs in the sixth inning to top the University of Maine at Farmington, 8-4, in an elimination game Friday afternoon at the North Atlantic Conference (NAC) Championship Tournament at Spartan Field.

The NAC Championship Tournament continues Saturday with a pair of games. Top-seed and host Castleton (30-10) will face No. 2 Husson (22-19) - a 6-5, 10-inning winner over UMF in the other opening round game - at 1:30 p.m. with the loser facing Thomas (20-19) in an elimination game at 4:30 p.m.

Both teams had 11 hits but the Beavers (23-15) committed five errors to the Terriers' two.

UMF jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Jimmy Neal led off the game with a triple to right center and scored two batters later when Ben Keene grounded into a double play.

Thomas drew even in the their half of the first as Derek Kane (sr., Natick, Mass. / Natick) scored from second when Nik Beeson (sr., Manchester, N.H. / Trinity) reached on an error.

The Beavers regained the lead in the second inning when Grayson Beressi scored on a Jordan Croteau sacrifice fly, then extended it to 4-1 with a pair of runs in the fourth.

The Terriers responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth to cut the deficit to one run. Brett Sommers (sr., Palm Bay, Fla. / Heritage) scored on an RBI double by Alex Curtis (so., Monmouth, Maine / Monmouth Academy) and Michael De Los Santos (so., Robstown, Texas / Robstown) crossed when Anree Benitez (sr., Orlando, Fla. / University) reached on an error with the bases loaded.

After a scoreless fifth inning for both schools, Thomas erupted for five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Benitez and pinch-runner Derek LeBlanc (fr., Madison, Maine / Madison) scored on an RBI single by Kane, who came around to score on an RBI double by Beeson. Two batters later, pinch-hitter Max Salevsky (Hollis, Maine / Bonny Eagle) rapped a two-run double down the right-field line to give the Terriers an 8-4 lead.

UMF left six runners on base over the final three innings, including three in the ninth, but was unable to push another run across.

Neal went 3-for-4 to lead UMF, while Tom Grady, Dustin McCrossin and Jordan Croteau had a pair of hits each.

Riley Chickering (5-4) took the loss for the Beavers, allowing eight runs (six earned) on eight hits and two walks while striking out one over 5 2/3 innings. Brett Elliott allowed three hits over 1 1/3 innings, while Kyle Peterson threw a scoreless eighth inning.

Kane and De Los Santos had two hits each to lead Thomas.

After throwing 2 1/3 innings of relief in the opener against Castleton, Dominic Esposito (jr., Portland, Maine / Deering) got the start against UMF. He gave up four runs (two earned) while scattering nine hits and a walk while striking out one in seven innings. Kane threw two innings of scoreless relief, scattering two hits and three walks while striking out three.