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Baseball: In First Start of Season, Rascati Gives Eastern Split with Second-Game Gem

Seniors (kneeling, from left): Jason Staub, Devin Belenski Ryan Hood, Cole Ogorzalek.
Standing (from left): Nick Rascati, Dale Keller, Alex Parkos, Alexander White, Jordan Muchin, William Coleman.
Seniors (kneeling, from left): Jason Staub, Devin Belenski Ryan Hood, Cole Ogorzalek. Standing (from left): Nick Rascati, Dale Keller, Alex Parkos, Alexander White, Jordan Muchin, William Coleman.

MANSFIELD, Conn. – In a Little East Conference doubleheader where each team's winning starting pitcher was dominant, Eastern Connecticut State University senior left-hander Nick Rascati (Wallingford) pitched a one-hitter and allowed only four baserunners over seven innings in his first start of the year as the Warriors salvaged a split against Castleton University Saturday afternoon at the Eastern Baseball Stadium.

Rascati (1-0) won his tenth career game in his first start in nearly a year and moved into fourth place all-time with his 69th career appearance. He fanned a career-high nine and allowed only a scratch single to junior Davis Mikell (Williston, VT) leading off the fourth. Nursing a 1-0 lead, Rascati left the runner at second with two swinging strikeouts and a foul out.

In the first game, senior righty Joe Gratton pitched a four-hitter in Castleton's (16-17, 7-7 LEC) 15-2 win stopped after seven innings due to the ten-run rule.

In the bottom of the fourth inning in the second game, Eastern (19-14, 7-7 LEC) broke the game open by scoring four runs on four hits, a walk and sacrifice fly. Junior John Mesagno (Tappan, NY) doubled in the first run, first-year sophomore Luke Broadhurst (Stafford) plated the second with a sacrifice fly, senior Ryan Hood (Arlington, MA) tripled in the third run, and junior Jake LeFevre's  (Mansfield Center) single to center made it 5-0.

Returning to the lineup after two weeks out, Broadhurst struck out in his only appearance in the first game to end a 12-game hitting streak,but began a new streak in the second game.

Freshman Matt Malcom (East Lyme) extended his on-base streak to 15 with two hits after reaching on a hit-by-pitch in the opener. After reaching twice in the first game with a hit and walk, senior William Coleman (Northford) had three hits in the second game, as did Hood. Malcom and Mesagno each had two hits in the nightcap.

Batting leadoff, Mikell reached base four times after doing the same in the opener. The left-handed-hitting first baseman  had both of Castleton's hits in the nightcap and drove in both runs with an eighth-inning single to break up the shutout. He also walked twice. Mikell was 3-for-5 with a walk and scored two runs in the opener.

Game 1: Castleton U. 15, Eastern 2 (7 inn.)

In the first meeting between the programs in 46 years, Gratton shut down Eastern on four singles and five of his teammates collected two or more hits off five Eastern pitchers as the Spartans emphatically snapped the Warriors' season-high six-game win streak.

Shooting for his 19th career win, Eastern senior righty Jordan Muchin (West Hartford) matched his shortest appearance of the season – since the season-opener. Muchin (4-4) gave up eight runs (six earned) on eight hits with six strikeouts and three walks and left on the shot end of an 8-2 score.

Gratton did not allow an earned run. He walked two while strikeout out eight in becoming on the second pitcher this year to pitch a complete game against the Warriors.

While Gratton was dominating Eastern's hitters, the Spartans scored all the runs they would need (3) in the top of the first on three hits a walk and infield error. Senior Dillon Benham (Lenox, MA) doubled in the first two runs (the only extra-base hit by either team) and Josh Ferro's (Queens, NY) made it 3-0 with a two-out single. Castleton made it 4-0 in the third and all but secured the win with four more in the fourth on three hits, a walk and infield error.

Batting second, junior Davis Mikell  reached base runs times with three hits and a walk and scored twice for Castleton. Benham reached five times with two hits and three walks, scored three times and drove in two runs with his first-inning double. Senior Matt Jackson  drove in three runs with two singles.

Eastern pitchers walked nine, hit three batters and threw five wild pitches.

Eastern hosts Tufts University Monday in a non-conference game at 6 p.m.