BANGOR, Maine — Husson University right-handers Ben Holmes and Ryan Allender yielded just two runs on nine hits over their 13 innings on the mound Sunday.
But it’s a testament to Castleton (Vermont) University’s status as three-time reigning North Atlantic Conference champion and the top seed for this year’s tournament that the Eagles’ best wasn’t quite good enough.
Senior Devin Hayes and freshman Davis Mikell each pitched a complete-game shutout as the Spartans capped off a four-game weekend sweep of Husson with two 1-0 victories at the Winkin Complex.
“It’s kind of been a competition to see who’s going to have the best start of the weekend,” said Hayes, part of a Castleton pitching staff that dropped its earned run average for the season from 1.94 to 1.89 with the dual shutouts. “We know that the one guy that gives up even two runs could have the worst start of all.”
Castleton, 30-7 overall and 21-3 in conference play, will host the four-team NAC tournament beginning next Friday.
Husson (21-18 overall, 13-11 in the NAC) is among four teams battling for the remaining three playoff berths, with New England College (12-10 in the NAC), Colby-Sawyer (11-11) and Lyndon State (11-11) all facing pivotal doubleheaders Monday or Tuesday.
“Our eyes are going to be on the [scoreboard], that’s for sure,” said Husson coach Jason Harvey.
Hayes (6-1) pitched his fourth complete game of the spring in the opener, allowing three hits with five strikeouts and no walks while throwing 83 pitches — 59 for strikes — over seven innings.
Holmes (3-3) matched Hayes for six innings, but a leadoff walk to Augusta’s Mitchell Caron in the top of the seventh and a one-out RBI double to deep left-center by No. 9 hitter Josh Rylant was enough to give the Spartans the victory.
Husson put only one runner into scoring position with less than two outs in the first game, on Christian Corneil’s leadoff double to left center in the bottom of the second.
But Hayes struck out the next batter and then snared Ryan Rebar’s liner back to the mound to start an inning-ending 1-6 double play.
The Eagles’ Logan Rogerson hit a two-out triple in the sixth but Hayes struck out Mike Wong to foil that threat.
Holmes pitched a complete-game five-hitter with five strikeouts and three walks.
Castleton, which had swept Husson 6-1, 2-1 on Saturday, scored the only run of the nightcap with two out in the second inning.
Allender retired the first five batters he faced before walking Matt Jackson. Caron then singled Jackson to second before No. 8 hitter Dylan Bailey singled to the right-center field gap. Jackson scored on the play, and while Rogerson’s relay throw from shortstop cut down Caron at the plate Castleton had the only run it needed.
Mikell scattered four hits — three of them infield singles — while striking out eight batters and walking one during a 98-pitch effort that included 64 strikes.
Husson put runners on first and second with no one out in the third on a sharp infield hit to third base by David Hutchings and a bunt single by Connor McGuire. The runners moved to second and third on Cam Archer’s sacrifice, but Mikell escaped the jam with a strikeout and a flyout.
The Eagles put runners on first and second with one out in the fifth but Mikell (5-1) used back-to-back strikeouts to keep his shutout intact.
“They have four very, very solid pitchers,” said Husson catcher Sam Huston. “Statistically they have one of the best pitching staffs in all the nation so when you go against that you know you’re going to be up against it.”
Allender (2-2) allowed four hits over his six innings with three strikeouts and four walks before Nick Guerrette worked a scoreless seventh.
“When you lose 1-0, 1-0, sometimes as a pitcher that’s tough to swallow,” said Harvey. “We just didn’t get it going offensively.”