RINDGE, N.H. – Castleton University scored in the top of the first inning and received six innings of one-run ball from Joe Gratton while holding off the Keene State College baseball team 3-1 in a Little East Conference contest Tuesday afternoon at Franklin Pierce University's Pappas Field.
- Keene State: 6-11, 2-4 LEC
- Castleton: 8-9, 2-1 LEC
How It Happened
The Spartans never trailed after grabbing an early lead and held off several Keene State threats late to pick up an LEC win. Connor Longley had a pair of hits for the Owls, while Tyler Gammie doubled and walked in four plate appearances. Mac Struthers went 1-for-3 with a walk, but KSC was limited to just six hits. Deagan Poland was 2-for-5 out of the leadoff spot for Castleton.
An error started the game, allowing Poland to reach second, and eventually hurt, as Dylan Bailey's two-out single put the Spartans on top 1-0. The Owls had a chance to answer back immediately, as Struthers doubled with one out in the bottom of the first, but Castleton cut him down going to third on the next play and later got out of a two on, two out jam to keep the lead. The next nine Owls went down in order at the plate, but KSC starter Greg Poggioli was also putting up zeroes, including getting out of bases loaded trouble in the fifth to keep it a 1-0 game. John Tarascio's grounder to start the bottom of the fifth was misplayed, allowing him to reach and snap Gratton's streak. He later advanced to third on a pair of wild pitches with one out, but could not score.
The Spartans picked up key insurance runs in the very next half inning, as Bailey walked and advanced to second on a passed ball before going to third on Mitchell Caron's well-placed bunt single. A grounder to first brought home one run before Matt Jackson's two-out line drive single to left made it a 3-0. From then on, Keene State threatened in most every inning, but only scored once. In the sixth, Mac Struthers walked and Walsh followed with a single to put two on with one down, but a 1-6-3 double play ended the threat just that quickly. The seventh saw Tyler Gammie double to right and score on Tarascio's single up the middle as the Owls got on the board with two straight hits to open the inning. After Andy Kenosh relieved Gratton, Ryan Linehan walked to put the tying run on base, but a fly to left and another double play squashed the rally. Trailing 3-1 into the bottom half of the ninth, KSC mounted one final push as Longley led off the frame with a single and Gammie walked to put the tying run on base. However, a rundown between second and third after a sacrifice bunt attempt went wrong resulted in the first out. The Owls put the tying run back on base with two down after Linehan took ball four, but a strikeout ended the game.
Poggioli (1-3) allowed three runs (two earned) over 5 2/3 innings while striking out seven, but took the loss. Gratton (3-2) won after fanning seven and allowing one run in six innings.
Around the Horn
- Tarascio has a hit in seven straight games and is hitting .302 on the season.
- It was Keene State's first meeting against Castleton with the Spartans as a member of the Little East and the first meeting of any kind since 2007, an 8-1 Owl win. KSC is 9-4 in the all-time series.
- It was the second time KSC has played at Franklin Pierce this season, as they defeated Plymouth State University 10-3 last Tuesday, March 26. Poggioli started both games.
- Keene State is scheduled to take on Western New England University at Owl Athletic Complex tomorrow afternoon, April 3, at 3:30 pm.
- Castleton hosts St. Michael's College for a doubleheader on Thursday, April 4 beginning at 2:00 pm.