Northeastern Baseball’s Top 10 Plays of 2021

By Milton Posner

No point in a protracted intro here. This team was good. They did fun stuff on the field. Here’s a top 10 list of that stuff.

#10: Fairly Spectacular

The narrative on first baseman Ian Fair solidified somewhat early this season, and it relayed that the CAA Preseason Player of the Year, a player who hit an .357 in his last full college season, was underperforming. And yes, he did finish the year with a .264 average that was more solid than spectacular.

But his defense was smooth and reliable all season, as he presented his fellow infielders with a wide, rangy target on their throws across the diamond. But it was the first play in this countdown that led Northeastern head coach Mike Glavine to laud Fair as the best defensive first baseman in the country.

Besides the reflexes and dexterity, consider the stakes here. Fair turned an RBI single into an inning-ending double play in a championship game that the Huskies eventually won by a single run. As good a play as any to kick off our list.

#9: Tumble Dry Low

As difficult as this catch is, it’s harder than it looks.

For one, the sun is blazing in Scott Holzwasser’s eyes. The ball is also hit directly behind him, and he’s tracking it not with full strides, but with a series of lightning-quick side steps. And then he lands perfectly on his feet, because why not make it a suave catch while you’re at it.

#8: The Short Hop and the Cannon

When the ball landed in fair territory down the left-field line, Nick Marrero had every reason to believe that second base was his.

Jeff Costello realized too late that the ball was out of reach, a realization usually accompanied by a fielder overrunning or deflecting the ball and giving the hitter an extra base. But instead Costello barehands the ball on the dead run, throws on the brakes, and fires a missile into second base to leave Marrero wondering where things went wrong.

#7: Range Factor

This was somehow only the third most impressive play Ben Malgeri made that week. But damn did it look good.

Some centerfielders literally can’t make this play. You need elite speed just to give yourself a chance. But Malgeri led the team in stolen bases for a reason, and he tracks this one as it tails away from him, extends as far as he can, and snags the ball as he lands on the warning track. A major momentum play in a playoff game.

Not that it was the only thrilling moment he produced that day.

#6: “Benny Bright Lights”

To truly appreciate this play, you have to understand just how unlikely it was.

It was the final game of the CAA Tournament. On the mound for UNCW was Landen Roupp, who had spent the weekend showing the hometown fans why he deserved his CAA Pitcher of the Year award. After shutting out the Elon Phoenix in a 12-strikeout complete game three days prior, he’d entered the game in the sixth inning and completely halted the red-hot Husky offense.

The Huskies were down 10–9 in the bottom of the ninth, and based on how the regular season went, Malgeri wasn’t a prime candidate to tie things with one swing. He’d hit just two home runs in 41 regular-season games, and when he fell behind 0-2 it looked like he’d be Roupp’s sixth consecutive strikeout victim.

But Ben Malgeri was in the midst of a perfectly timed power surge, and he delivered the biggest hit of the season to that point.

The media ballots for tournament MVP were cast before Malgeri stepped to the plate in the ninth. But given that this was his fifth home run in five tournament games, he won the award anyway. I can’t imagine the vote was particularly close.

#5: Long-Range Artillery

Just in case you missed him since the end of the last sentence, here’s Ben Malgeri again.

I’d wager that it was a 250-foot throw, and it took every bit of strength and momentum Malgeri could muster to make it there on the fly. His body even went along for the ride. And the throw was right on the money.

The Huskies wound up stranding the tying run in the top of the ninth, so Malgeri’s laser didn’t change the outcome. But there was no moment in the Huskies’ season that was more worthy of a commissioned painting.

Well, maybe one.

4: The Superman Dive

This play doesn’t need to be analyzed. It doesn’t need to be hyped, explained, or contextualized. It merely needs to be watched as often as possible.

This was the second time Holzwasser landed atop SportsCenter’s nightly top 10, and we’ll get to the other one in a minute. But it’s undoubtedly the best defensive play of the season for a team that made a bunch of them.

3: The Human Power Plant

Jared Dupere spent the season trying to unstitch baseballs with blunt force. His Northeastern-record 21 home runs indicate as much, as does the fact that eight of those dingers measured 430 feet or more. He smacked the ball clean out of Friedman Diamond several times, and while his longest measured a whopping 482 feet, that isn’t the one that makes this list.

No, that would be his 479-foot blast against Merrimack on April 20, which hit the top of the press box in right-center field and caromed over to the houses across the street.

I’ve seen flamboyant bat flips before. But I have never seen a player undoing his batting gloves as he eases into his home run trot. Subtle, and savage.

2: The Magician

Speaking of something I’ve never quite seen on a baseball diamond:

Just . . . just . . . what?

MLB fans might recall nifty, creative, and athletic slides from wizards like Javier Báez and Josh Harrison, but I’ve watched those compilations too, and I don’t recall seeing something quite like this. If I’m missing something please let me know, but for now I’m comfortable calling this a one-of-a-kind play.

Plays like that are an atypical kind of impressive. You can watch astounded as Jared Dupere makes Friedman Diamond look like a little-league field, but you also intuitively understand that he’s practiced hitting balls far. In fact, he’s practiced it a lot.

But while Holzwasser has surely practiced sliding since he was a kid, it’s hard to imagine he’s practiced that specific slide much. If I’m wrong then I’m wrong, but that’s my hunch. Which means that this play is based not just on athleticism and skill, but on innate cleverness and instinct.

1: Game Over

The Huskies had spent sixteen years in the Colonial Athletic Association without a title. Even in 2018, when they were good enough to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, the UNCW Seahawks thwarted them in the CAA final. At last, revenge was theirs.

“I can barely talk,” Viera said after the game, a smile as wide as a canyon stretched across his face. “I feel like I’m in a dream.”

Huskies End Season With NCAA Regional Loss, Remain Hopeful for Future

Story by Catherine Morrison and Milton Posner

Photos by Sadie Parker

FAYETTEVILLE, AR — After everything that happened during the 2021 Northeastern baseball season — the 20-game win streak, the 26 runs in a game, the new single-season home run record, the walk-off home run to win their first-ever CAA Championship, and the berth in an NCAA Regional hosted by the top-ranked team in the country — it was hard to believe how suddenly it ended.

When the Huskies nibbled away at a three-run deficit in the late innings, when the player who walked off the conference tournament homered to bring them within one, it was easy to envision a storybook ninth inning.

But the Huskies weren’t so fortunate in the bottom of the ninth. Seven pitches, three flyouts, 3–2 final score. Game over. Season over.

The New Jersey Institute of Technology entered the NCAA Fayetteville Regional with a remarkable underdog narrative, and bested the Huskies on a cloudy Saturday afternoon.

NJIT starter Ryan Fischer stymied the Huskies through six, wiggled out of trouble after ceding a run in the seventh, and handed the ball to Jake Rappaport, who yielded a solo homer and nothing else. Those two Husky runs fell just short of matching the Highlanders’ three middle-inning runs, which came on a flurry of singles, ground ball outs, and sacrifices against Husky starter Cam Schlittler and reliever Brian Rodriguez.

“Today is a really tough one to swallow for a lot of reasons,” Northeastern head coach Mike Glavine said. “We just didn’t play well, didn’t have any energy, couldn’t get anything going . . . It was like a baseball hangover.”

But if the rest of Glavine’s postgame remarks are any indication, there isn’t a sour taste in their mouths — or not as much as you might think.

“We took a step forward,” he said. “We won our first conference championship in the CAA. We came out last night [against Nebraska], proved that we belonged, and really competed our butts off . . . Hate to see it end like this, hate to lose our guys who won’t be back, but they’re going to look back on this forever as a special season.”

For Scott Holzwasser, who exits after taking a sledgehammer to the program record book, the conference championship marked the conclusion not just of his Northeastern journey, but of his graduating teammates’ journeys as well.

“I’m proud of our class,” he said. “I feel like we kind of changed the way things are going at Northeastern. Glav’s been bringing incredible student-athletes to the school and building off what we’ve done here, taking the program to another level.”

He’s not wrong. Northeastern received national recognition this year, first from their win streak, then from their sensational run in the CAA Tournament. This season shows that Northeastern is competitive inside and out of the CAA, and that Friedman Diamond is a prime destination for New England ballplayers.

Most of the team will return next year, including the large majority of their offensive firepower. Cam Schlittler, Sebastian Keane, and Wyatt Scotti are poised for superb campaigns at the head of the pitching staff.

“When you talk about winning a conference championship and you’ve done it, you know it’s a reality,” Glavine said. “So I think we’ll have a lot more confidence and experience next year. We’ve knocked that door down and now we’ve got to try to do it again.”

NU Huskers Beat NU Huskies

Northeastern will face NJIT in a win-or-go-home NCAA Regional game Saturday at 2 PM CT (3 PM ET). Click here to hear Milton Posner and Catherine Morrison call the game live.

Story by Catherine Morrison and Milton Posner

Photos by Sadie Parker

FAYETTEVILLE, AR — For the first three innings of Friday night’s game, it looked like Northeastern, fresh off a dramatic, homer-rich campaign to the CAA championship, was up to their old tricks. Facing a Nebraska team that shattered expectations en route to a Big Ten championship, they leaped out to a 4–0 lead.

Then Sebastian Keane lost control, the Cornhusker offense woke up, and the bottom fell out. Eight unanswered Nebraska runs and a stifled Northeastern comeback later, an 8–6 loss dropped the Huskies into the losers’ bracket of the double elimination NCAA Fayetteville Regional.

Nebraska ace Cade Povich started and looked true to form in the first inning, retiring the side and allowing just one hit. But Povich gave up a monster home run to leadoff hitter Danny Crossen in the second, giving the Huskies an early lead in a game the Cornhuskers were supposed to run away with. Povich, clearly rattled, gave up a double to Ben Malgeri but escaped the inning without any more damage.

Povich started the third inning by inducing a groundout, but quickly gave up a single to Jeff Costello and a double to Max Viera. Povich decided to pitch to Northeastern single-season home run king Jared Dupere and instantly regretted it, giving up a single to make the score 3–0.

“He was up in the zone a little bit,” Nebraska head coach Will Bolt explained. “He didn’t really have a pitch to go to. They hit some balls hard on all of his pitches. He wasn’t really fooling them there.”

Northeastern wasn’t done yet, as the stalwart Scott Holzwasser walked to advance Dupere to second. A few pitches later, Povich bounced one off of catcher Griffin Everitt, whose delay in locating the ball allowed Dupere to score the Huskies’ fourth run without a smidge of contact.

The underdog Huskies were on a roll, hitting balls and taking names. Starter Sebastian Keane was lights out, striking out two in the first inning and going scoreless through three.

“Their starter came out attacking,” Bolt said. “We didn’t come out with the aggressive mindset we normally see.”

Then Nebraska pulled Povich and replaced him with middle reliever Koty Frank, who dominated the Huskies. Frank struck out only two batters, but retired the first 11 Huskies he faced to swing the momentum.

“I knew if I could keep us in the game for as long as possible, our offense would start hitting,” Frank said. He added that his changeup made a big difference, saying, “Earlier in the year it was an iffy pitch I was worried to throw . . . now I’m 100% committed and feel very confident.”

Meanwhile, Keane started to struggle, with a Spencer Schwellenbach single and a Max Anderson walk setting the table nicely for Cam Chick, who trimmed the four-run lead to three with one stroke of his bat.

“I didn’t like what I saw from him that inning,” Glavine said. “I thought his stuff dropped a little bit. His command started to go, he started tugging the baseball a little bit. I was certainly hoping to get a longer outing from him — four, five, six innings, something along those lines.”

Glavine said he was wary of going to a bullpen that struggled last weekend, so he tapped fourth starter Wyatt Scotti for the fifth inning to regain control of the ballgame. In what was becoming a theme for the Huskies, Scotti easily recorded the first out and then ran into trouble when a one-out Jaxon Hallmark triple set up a game-tying sacrifice fly from Schwellenbach.

“Wyatt is typically a strike-thrower; he didn’t have his best stuff tonight, but he worked as hard as he could,” Glavine said. “So we thought, ‘Let’s bring a guy in, different look than Sebastian.’ We wanted to give them a different slot, different stuff, and try to get through the lineup just one time. And hopefully he would pound the strike zone and force them to hit their way on. But he fell behind in the count a few too many times, and they had great at-bats on him.”

The script had flipped. All of a sudden, Northeastern was struggling with their pitching, and Nebraska was lights out. Nebraska was hitting the Huskies all over the place, and Northeastern couldn’t get anything going against Frank.

“He had it all going on,” Husky first baseman Ian Fair said of Frank. “He was working both sides of the plate with three pitches.”

“He was probably the player of the game,” Glavine added. “It didn’t look like he threw anything straight. It looked like everything was moving. He changed speeds, he hit his spots, he had us off balance, he worked fast, he was fast in between innings.”

Nebraska teammate Cam Chick echoed Glavine’s sentiments, adding that, “He can throw you off and take you out of your rhythm pretty easily.”

Nebraska, now full of momentum, charged ahead, scoring three more off Scotti — including one on a balk — in the sixth inning to put some distance between them and the Huskies. Northeastern pulled Scotti in the bottom of the sixth. Eric Yost, however, didn’t fare much better, giving up two singles in the seventh before a combination of batter interference, a failed steal, and a successful one cashed in a runner from third to make it 8–4.

That would be the last run Nebraska scored, but they had everything they needed to beat Northeastern and advance to the winner’s bracket. The Huskies put up a good fight, scoring two in the top of the eighth when Frank finally ran out of steam, but couldn’t tie the game after shortstop Schwellenbach came in to close the game with his ninety-five mile-an-hour fastball.

Huskies Win First-Ever CAA Championship as Viera Walks It Off

Story by Milton Posner

Photos by Sadie Parker

WILMINGTON, NC — As the Northeastern Huskies celebrated on Brooks Field, as they doused their coach with ice water and raised their first-ever CAA Tournament trophy toward a cloudy North Carolina sky, the only question to ask was how.

Not “how did they win it”; this was, after all, a team that won 20 games in a row and nearly ran the table in conference play, a team with four quality starters and a treasure trove of .300 hitters. No, the question was how Jared Dupere maintained his preposterous slugging streak, golfing a first-inning homer to open the scoring and become Northeastern’s single-season home run king.

It was how Ian Fair and Ben Malgeri made ridiculous diving catches to keep runs off the board.

It was how Malgeri, who hit just two home runs in the regular season, smacked his fifth of the tournament to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth — off CAA Pitcher of the Year Landen Roupp, no less.

And it was how freshman Max Viera followed suit in the top of the tenth, launching a walk-off home run against a pitcher who looked entirely unhittable ten minutes prior.

It was all unbelievable. But as they had all week, and as they had all season, the Huskies made everyone believe. They bested the UNC Wilmington Seahawks 11–10 in ten innings to secure their first conference championship since joining the CAA in 2006. They will earn the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to be around the game for a long time,” Northeastern head coach Mike Glavine said. “This is as great a moment as I’ve ever had. You get to share it with so many people. This is right at the top.”

Almost by definition, extra-inning championship games have plenty of back-and-forth drama. But the drama of Sunday afternoon’s game exceeded all expectations and rationality, even for fans who watched the same two teams battle it out in extra innings the day before.

“I’ll have to watch this game 10 times,” Glavine said. “There are so many overlooked things that happened.”

After Dupere’s first-inning two-run jack, neither team scored in the second inning. It was the only inning for which that was true.

The third inning took the affair from first to fifth gear, as a UNCW walk and single, plus a Northeastern scoring error, combined to plate a run and chase Husky starter Cam Schlittler from the game. The freshman had thrown 101 pitches three days before, and was handed the ball because the Huskies ran out of viable starters.

Friday starter Kyle Murphy replaced Schlittler, and the Seahawks slapped him around for the second time in three days. After allowing one of his inherited runners to score in the third, Murphy allowed consecutive RBI extra-base hits in the fourth and exited after just 22 pitches. The second such hit was a homer off the bat of UNCW’s All-CAA First Team right fielder Brooks Baldwin.

But the Huskies still led after all of this because they posted the most productive inning of the afternoon in their half of the third. They turned three hits and two errors into four runs, chasing multiple Seahawk pitchers from the game in the process. This would be a common theme in a winner-take-all game between two teams without rested starters; Northeastern used eight pitchers to get through ten innings, while UNCW used six.

The teams traded runs in the fifth, with Northeastern’s coming on Ben Malgeri’s third home run within 24 hours. The Huskies gained a run in the sixth, responding to Baldwin’s second dinger with two runs of their own after loading the bases with one out.

But the Seahawks made their move in the seventh and eighth innings, in large part behind the efforts of speedy center fielder Noah Bridges. In the seventh, Bridges singled, stole second, advanced to third on a throwing error, and scored on a sacrifice fly. In the eighth, he singled home Cole Weiss and Matt Suggs to give UNCW a 10–9 lead, their first of the day.

While all of this was happening, the Northeastern offense was fizzling. In the sixth, UNCW had brought Roupp, their ace starter and the CAA Pitcher of the Year, out of the pen on two days’ rest, and it was immediately clear why they did. Here’s the play-by-play:

  • L. Roupp to p for G. Herring
  • Fair struck out swinging.
  • Beaudet walked.
  • Smith grounded out to p, SAC.
  • Costello struck out swinging.
  • Viera struck out swinging.
  • Dupere struck out swinging.
  • Holzwasser struck out swinging.
  • Crossen struck out swinging.

“Roupp had us in a spin cycle out there,” Glavine said. “We just couldn’t stop it, and he sped us up again. I saw it happen, we all saw it happen and there was nothing we could do about it.”

So when Malgeri went down 0-2 to Roupp to lead off the ninth, he seemed destined to be another strikeout victim. But if it wasn’t apparent before, Malgeri was playing on another level.

“He’s tournament MVP for a reason. He just was unbelievable,” Glavine said. “In the biggest moment of the game, the biggest moment of the year, he did it.”

“I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit and slow the game down. I was just playing the same game I always do, since I was a little kid, and it just happened,” Malgeri said. “I didn’t think it was out at first. I was just trying to get to second and get a run across.”

“It’s gotta be the top,” he added when asked where the moment ranked in his baseball life. “I can’t think of a better moment, honestly, not even close.”

It would have been understandable if the home run had rattled Roupp, but he seemed to barely realize that it even happened. He straddled the rubber, resumed his breakneck pace, and struck out the next three hitters to send the game to the tenth.

Brian Rodriguez was waiting for the Seahawks in the top half and, just as he had in the ninth, smoothly retired the side.

“Brian Rodriguez is a salt of the earth kid, one of the best kids I’ve ever coached,” Glavine said. “Couldn’t be happier for him. I wanted to save him for the whole game. We fired our bullet early with Cam, we saved Brian for the end, and we knew we would have all those other guys in between. We were just hoping they could give us everything they had because they were on empty. They fought, they battled, but we don’t win that game without Brian Rodriguez.”

And thus the table was set for Max Viera.

“His curveball was working, his fastball was working, and he was spotting up, so I was just looking for a fastball I could hit,” Viera said. “I just go blank [when I hit it]. I think it’s a flyout, I’m rounding first base, see it’s gone, and I feel like I’m in a dream.”

“This is the number one moment,” Viera said with a three-mile-wide smile plastered across his face. “I can barely talk.”

Glavine added that despite the euphoria, despite the unprecedented achievement, the team isn’t done.

“Let’s do something else we haven’t done before and that’s get into an [NCAA] regional and actually make some noise,” he said. “I believe this team can do it.”

AUDIO: Malgeri and Viera Go Yard To Earn First-Ever CAA Championship For Northeastern

Heading into the bottom of the ninth, Northeastern trailed UNCW 10–9. The Seahawks send Landen Roupp, the CAA Pitcher of the Year, back to the mound after two-plus innings of relief work. Roupp had struck out nearly every Husky he’d faced, and it looked as though the Huskies were toast.

But Ben Malgeri and Max Viera had other plans. The former took Roupp deep to force extra innings, and the latter followed suit to end the tournament and secure Northeastern’s first title since joining the conference in 2006. Take a listen as Milton Posner and Jack Sinclair call a pair of legendary moments.

Huskies Punch Ticket to Winner-Take-All Game With Dramatic Doubleheader Win

Northeastern will play a winner-take-all game against UNCW for the CAA Championship on Sunday at 1 PM Eastern. Click here to hear Milton Posner and Jack Sinclair call the action.

Story by Milton Posner and Jack Sinclair

Photos by Sadie Parker

WILMINGTON, NC — What stands out about Saturday, perhaps more than anything else, is just how many chances the Northeastern Huskies had to end their season.

After losing to the UNC Wilmington Seahawks on Friday night and dropping into the losers’ bracket of the double elimination CAA Tournament, the Huskies needed to win twice Saturday — first against the Charleston Cougars and then against the Seahawks — just to push things to a winner-take-all game on Sunday. When they struggled to score in the first game, and when UNCW’s comeback forced extra innings in the second game, it seemed as though the Huskies were playing with fire just a bit too much.

But they made it through, winning the most suspenseful and compelling game of the season in the process. They’ll play for all the marbles tomorrow.

Game One

The Charleston Cougars ran into Sebastian Keane and were the worse for the experience. It was clear from the first pitch that Keane had brought his best stuff. After allowing a single in the first inning, Keane retired 13 straight Cougars. He pulled out all the stops, mixing in a sweeping curveball with his blistering fastball. Keane struck out six en route to seven innings of one-run baseball, with an RBI double from Harrison Hawkins the lone blemish.

“Lights out in tough conditions when you know if you lose, you’re going home,” Northeastern head coach Mike Glavine said. “In his first tournament start. When the offense isn’t doing anything and the wind’s blowing in. He was awesome.”

Charleston’s William Privette mostly matched the majesty of the Northeastern starter, allowing only one hit over five innings.

“There was more pressure on us in that game than in game two, because you’re trying to get to game two,” Glavine said. “I think we were very tense and we couldn’t score. Wasn’t going our way by any stretch of the imagination.”

The man who relieved Privette, Tradd James, struggled as the Northeastern offense woke up. He started his outing by striking out Jeff Costello, then allowed a stand-up triple to Max Viera.

Then James met Jared Dupere. Or rather, Jared Dupere introduced himself to James by sending his pitch over the left field wall for a two-run home run, his twentieth of the year, tying the Northeastern single-season record.

“I don’t,” Glavine said when asked if he could believe the year Dupere is having. “And in limited action too; we’ve played less games this year. Every time he swings, I feel like it has a chance to leave the yard. He’s a threat and everyone knows it. He’s got the pressure on him from our team and somehow it doesn’t affect him.”

“He’s an animal,” Glavine added. “He carried us in that game.”

The 2–0 lead was all Keane needed, as his seventh inning of work went just as smoothly as the rest. Brian Rodriguez took the mound in relief and built off of Keane’s dominance, throwing two scoreless innings.

The offense took the nod from Keane and really laid into the Cougars in the eighth. Scott Holzwasser drove in a run with a double before Danny Crossen brought him in, also with a double. The parade around the bases continued, as Ben Malgeri singled to second base, with the assist coming from a throwing error that scored Crossen.

The game ended in a 5–1 margin in the Huskies’ favor, a solid all-around win. But given what came next, Husky fans would be forgiven for forgetting its finer points.

Game Two

One inevitable consequence of winning 20 games in a row and nearly running the table in conference play is that it tends to come at the expense of late-inning drama. But in the highest-pressure game of the season, Northeastern and UNCW gave us a match for the ages.

Unlike Friday’s game against UNCW — and, for that matter, the game they’d played a couple hours prior — the Huskies wasted little time. In the second inning, Scott Holzwasser, who has spent all tournament running faster on an injured ankle than most people run fully healthy, took Seahawk starter Luke Gesell deep down the left field line.

Not to be outdone, Ben Malgeri, who hit just two homers in the regular season, smashed his second of the tournament two batters later.

“His home run numbers are low and I’ve seen him hit balls like he’s been hitting them [now],” Glavine said. “We started talking about that [in mid-May] at Delaware, and since Delaware he’s done a really good job being more aggressive with his barrel, not getting beat, working to the opposite field, and working to pull to the gap. We talked about it, he listened, he’s executing.”

The 2–0 Northeastern lead held as Husky starter Wyatt Scotti, like Keane before him, mowed down batters effectively and efficiently. Malgeri added to it with another solo shot in the fourth — he’s hit more home runs since Thursday than did in the three months before it — and Max Viera singled home Teddy Beaudet in the fifth to tack on a fourth run.

Now, let’s draw a hypothetical line through the seventh inning stretch. Everything before this line constitutes a mildly interesting game, one with an excellent Northeastern pitching performance and a handful of homers.

Everything after it represents the most compelling baseball Northeastern, and probably the entire conference, has seen this season.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, consecutive singles by Cole Weiss, Dillon Lifrieri, and Noah Bridges, plus a sacrifice fly from Jac Croom, sliced the Northeastern lead in half. Scotti’s day was done.

Fireballer Brandon Dufault assumed the mound in the bottom of the eighth, just in time for the dam of baseball weirdness to burst wide open. After a Taber Mongero single and a Brooks Baldwin strikeout, both Trevor Marsh and Matt Suggs hit hard comebackers to Dufault, both of which could theoretically have yielded inning-ending double plays. Dufault spiked his throw into the grass in front of second base on the Marsh hit, then Suggs smacked his comebacker so hard that the ball tore the glove off Dufault’s hand and trickled away from the mound.

Bases loaded. Tying run on second. Go-ahead run on first. One out. Cole Weiss, who had hit a grand slam against the Huskies the day before, at the plate.

But Dufault sat him down on strikes. It wasn’t a deja vu story. Weiss was just a decoy for the main event.

The battle that ensued between Dufault and Lifrieri was mystifying. By the tail end of the at-bat, fans of both teams were applauding with every pitch. It was a war of attrition in miniature as Lifrieri worked the count full, then fouled off five consecutive 3-2 pitches. On the 11th pitch of the appearance, he landed a line drive in right field in front of Dupere. With the baserunners off with the pitch for the sixth time in a row, Mongero and Marsh scored easily. Tie game.

Dufault retired Bridges to end the inning. In the ninth, both teams mustered only a single, as Dufault and UNCW’s Hunter Hodges settled in nicely. The Huskies went into the tenth inning for just the second time this season.

They quickly loaded the bases on a Costello double, a Viera walk, and a Dupere intentional walk. A Danny Crossen sacrifice fly, a throwing error, and a Malgeri single cashed three runs and let almost all the air out of Brooks Field.

Not that the Seahawks would go quietly in the bottom half of the frame. A walk and a hit-by-pitch brought the tying run to the plate and chased Dufault from the game.

“I put him on for a third inning. That was my fault; he was completely out of gas,” Glavine said, though he noted that, “It’s a pretty simple thought process — it’s do or die, and he hasn’t pitched yet in the tournament . . . I didn’t want to come out of the game without firing our best bullets.”

On came David Stiehl, who forced a ground-ball double play on his second pitch to torpedo the inning. Lifrieri’s RBI single proved irrelevant as the game ended 7–5.

A couple of X-factors enabled the Huskies to withstand the Seahawk surge. One was a propensity for making quick, smart, strategic decisions in the field, which Glavine called “proud papa moments” and said excited him more than home runs. The other was the defense of catcher Teddy Beaudet.

“The number of pitches he blocked tonight under pressure was incredible,” Glavine said. “And then he throws a guy out under pressure. He’s playing his best baseball at the right time of the year.”

The Huskies will rematch the Seahawks again on Sunday, and Glavine says only Keane and Scotti are unavailable. This means Cam Schlittler and Kyle Murphy may pitch, though they likely can’t carry full starter workloads after pitching on Thursday and Friday, respectively. But it’ll be all hands on deck for the winner-take-all game.

Huskies Drop Tournament Game to Seahawks, 8–4

The Huskies will rematch Charleston on Saturday at 1 PM, with a rematch against UNCW at 5 PM if they win the first game. Click here to hear Milton Posner and Jack Sinclair call the action live from Wilmington, North Carolina.

Story by Milton Posner and Jack Sinclair

Photos by Sadie Parker

WILMINGTON, NC — Life comes at you fast, and perhaps no faster than in baseball. 

Yesterday’s game saw the Huskies jump all over the Charleston Cougars, as they took a commanding six-run lead in the first inning behind a three-run bomb from Ben Malgeri.

On Friday night, the Huskies got a taste of their own bludgeoning, as they found themselves trailing 6–1 after two innings, again largely thanks to one consequential swing of the bat. The CAA-South-winning UNC Wilmington Seahawks threw haymakers at Husky starter Kyle Murphy from the jump.

“They just looked locked in. They jumped on us right away,” Northeastern head coach Mike Glavine said. “[Murphy] was a little bit up in the zone, couldn’t get his stuff down, they made him pay a little bit. But he made some good pitches too and they hit them.”

The Huskies only saving grace from the opening two innings came, unsurprisingly, off the bat of Jared Dupere. His opposite field solo home run — which moved him within one of the school’s single-season record — was the first sign of life for the Huskies. 

Those signs were short lived, as the Seahawks loaded the bases in the top of the second, setting the table nicely for Cole Weiss. He changed the complexion of the entire tournament with one swing; a hard-hit fly ball that snuck over the fence for a grand slam, giving his side a 6–1 lead.

Murphy’s day was done after two innings. It wasn’t all bad, as he achieved five of his six outs via strikeout. But a plethora of line drives combined to produce his first subpar start in conference this season.

Glavine turned to his bullpen, who he noted had pitched well all season long. That pen allowed just two runs (one earned) over the final seven innings, and gave the Huskies a chance to make up the deficit.

But the Huskies couldn’t put themselves within striking distance as Seahawk starter Adam Smith limited traffic on the basepaths.

“We had good at-bats,” Glavine said. “Their pitching staff is good; they get a lot of strikeouts and a lot of walks. We just wanted to grind them out. We lined out a fair amount too, so I thought offensively we were close.”

He added, “I think the turning point was the seventh inning. It was an 8–4 game and we had bases loaded with one out, Malgeri with a chance to change the game there, and that was one of our [four] strikeouts. We didn’t put up a lot of runs, but it wasn’t through a lack of grinding or doing what we usually do.”

Glavine confirmed that Sebastian Keane will start tomorrow’s game against Charleston, with Wyatt Scotti starting the UNCW rematch should the Huskies beat Charleston. He also noted that, save for Murphy and Cam Schlittler, every Husky pitcher would be available. With a loss to their name already, the Huskies must win both games tomorrow, plus another on Sunday, to win the conference crown.

“There’s no reason we don’t have the pitching to make this happen tomorrow,” he said bluntly. “We’re ready for this, we’re built for it, we’ve done it all year long. If anyone in this tournament can do it, it’s us. So there’s no excuses.”

Huskies Run Away with CAA Tournament Opener

Northeastern will play their next CAA Tournament game on Friday, May 28 at 7 PM against the winner of the UNCW–Elon game. Click here to listen as Milton Posner and Jack Sinclair call the action live for WRBB.

Story by Milton Posner and Jack Sinclair

Photos by Sadie Parker

WILMINGTON, NC — It was as good of a first inning as Northeastern head coach Mike Glavine had ever seen.

“I couldn’t have drawn it up any better,” Glavine said. “We get bunts down, steal bases, get a home run, get two-strike hits, a couple ugly hits — just everything you want from a lineup. We go all the way through, we turn the lineup over. It was a special inning. You saw [all of] our offense in one inning.”

When the dust settled, the Huskies came away with six runs in the first inning, making up the bulk of their offensive production as they cruised to a 10–3 win. After an emphatic start to their tenth CAA Tournament appearance, the Huskies will look to build on this win and claim their first title since joining the conference in 2006.

Starter Trey Pooser kicked off the game for the Charleston Cougars, and quickly found himself in a load of trouble. Jeff Costello led off with an infield single. Max Viera followed suit, singling into right to advance Costello to third; Viera then stole third as Jared Dupere struck out. Up stepped Scott Holzwasser, sliding to the cleanup and designated hitter spots after a misstep at the first base bag the weekend prior left him out of the lineup and in a boot for the last regular season game.

Holzwasser was limping but produced nonetheless, knocking a clean single to right that plated Costello and Viera.

“He’s a gamer,” Glavine said. “You’ll see him in there again tomorrow, so he’s got a whole night and day to prepare and get his foot where it needs to be. He’ll definitely be in the DH spot.”

After a Danny Crossen single, Ben Malgeri, the center fielder who has had a quiet season compared to his hard-hitting teammates, stepped up in every sense. Malgeri formally introduced his bat to the baseball by sending it about 400 feet over the left field wall, boosting the Huskies lead to 5–0.

The Cougars’ nightmare inning rolled on, as the next three plays saw Ian Fair reach on an error, Teddy Beaudet awarded first base on a foul ball incorrectly ruled a hit-by-pitch, and Spenser Smith reach safely off a bunt back to the pitcher. Costello stroked a fly ball into deep center, which gave Fair plenty of time to tag up and score the sixth run of the inning. 

Fair would score again in the bottom of the third, this time on his own accord. Malgeri reached base on an error just before the Husky first baseman stood in and yanked a home run to the opposite field.

After three innings, the Huskies held a commanding 8–1 lead over the Cougars. Tack on Dupere’s CAA-leading 18th home run in the fourth and another RBI single from Holzwasser in the fifth, and the Huskies led 10–1.

Underlining all of this offense was a gutsy pitching performance from standout freshman, Cam Schlittler. He dominated opponents the season, going 6–0 in conference play with a 0.90 ERA and making hitters look like they were swinging toothpicks. He showed why on Thursday afternoon, as he mowed through an almost impossibly efficient first six innings allowing only a solo home run to Jared Kirven.

“Pretty sure Schlittler liked the hot weather,” Glavine said. “The pitchers love it. We’ve talked at length about taking care of our bodies to be able to play in this heat. We had it in Towson, which was huge. Leading into this game, we practiced for three days in the heat. We’ve been talking about hydration, rest, and all that stuff.”

But disaster struck Schlittler in the seventh inning. Or, more accurately, a Kirven line drive did. On his pitching arm. 

For a long moment, the Husky dugout, as well as the fans who made the 800-mile trek from Massachusetts, held their breath.

“Fortunately it was above the elbow; it hit him in the bicep,” Glavine explained. “The stitches were on there, I could see it plain as day. He was hurting and it was bruising up already. I just wanted to calm him down; that’s a jolt and I bet you it was 100 mph off the bat.”

Schlittler tossed a few warmup pitches to regain his control, then retired the next batter to escape the inning. Though he did cede two runs in the eighth, Glavine attributed it more to fatigue than to the line drive.

“It probably wasn’t a ton of pain, it was more shock. The pain is probably going to come tonight,” he said. “But I wouldn’t have put him out there if I didn’t feel like it was safe. And of course he wants to stay in; he’s a tough kid.”

Schlittler probably wasn’t going to pitch again in the conference tournament anyway, but Glavine confirmed that they are looking to prepare him for NCAA Tournament play should the Huskies make it. The Cougars, meanwhile, drop into the loser’s bracket in the double elimination tournament, and will face William & Mary in a win-or-go-home game Friday morning.

Huskies Close Regular Season with Series Win Over Tigers

Northeastern begins CAA Tournament play on Thursday May 27 at 3 PM Eastern, with additional game times and opponents determined by tournament results. Milton Posner and Jack Sinclair will call all Northeastern games for WRBB.

Story by Khalin Kapoor and Jack Sinclair

Photos by Sadie Parker

TOWSON, MD — The 2021 Baseball season has been filled with uncertainty regarding lineups and scheduling due to the pandemic. But if there is one thing that can be deemed “certain” from this tumultuous season, it’s that the 2021 Northeastern Huskies are very, very good.

After dropping two of four games to the Delaware Blue Hens last weekend, the Huskies came into Towson with a chip on their shoulder. The Huskies and Tigers played a three-game series this weekend to close out their regular-season campaigns.

Game One

Jeff Costello made sure the world knew that he was unhappy with the way last weekend went, as he crushed a home run to lead off the ballgame. The parade around the bases commenced in the third inning, as designated hitter Max Viera doubled to drive in Danny Crossen, Spenser Smith, and Jared Dupere to make it 4–0.

The game settled down a bit, and Towson clawed back a run in the fourth, but nothing was getting in the way of the Northeastern bats. In the fifth, Dupere absolutely mauled a baseball in a manner that would make Mark McGwire blush. Viera followed suit, sending a long fly over the fence for another solo shot. Ben Malgeri joined in on the fun to give the Huskies back-to-back jacks, and their third in the inning. Not even a new pitcher could stop the Huskies, as Ian Fair homered after the change to make it three in a row.

“I think anything up in the air had a chance [to go out],” Northeastern head coach Mike Glavine said. “Obviously the balls were hit really well too, but the wind was blowing out and this park plays small so that helped.”

Cam Schlittler was his usual self on the mound, and for the redshirt freshman, his usual self is lights out. He went five innings, allowing only two hits and one unearned run, which helped to keep his fourth-best-in-the-nation ERA at 1.29 (!!!).

“He looked good, even though he had that one inning where he walked a couple,” Glavine said. “He looked really sharp, even on short rest.”

Dupere sent the baseball over the fence again in the eighth inning for his 17th of the season and second of the game. Ryan Cervone and Costello each picked up RBIs in the ninth inning to drive up the Huskies’ score to 15. Solid relief performances from Owen Langan, Rick Burroni, and Brian Rodriguez limited the Tigers to only one more run, and the Huskies took game one by a score of 15–2.

Game Two

Somewhat surprisingly, offense was a premium on Friday afternoon. After putting up 15 runs the day before, the Huskies were limited to just one run and five hits in a 2–1 loss.

“It was a tight game,” Glavine noted. “Both teams were battling on a hot day . . . we just couldn’t get anything going offensively.”

Starter Kyle Murphy was dominant for seven scoreless innings, striking out nine and issuing only one walk. This was another in a long series of starts in which Murphy offered the Huskies stability and quick outs right off of the bat. Despite the lack of offensive support, Murphy kept on dealing en route to tying his second-longest outing of the season.

“Murph was awesome,” Glavine said. “He kept us in the game even though he knew we were struggling to score runs.”

Towson starter Nick Janowicz was solid as well, spinning five scoreless, walking five, and striking out four. The Huskies took the lead in the sixth inning after a Malgeri sacrifice fly plated Dupere. Towson star reliever Kody Reeser took over for the rest of the game, throwing four scoreless innings and striking out five.

“Towson really pitched well today,” Glavine noted. “They had us off balance all day long and really pitched great all day.”

Northeastern reliever Eric Yost immediately ran into trouble in the eighth, as he gave up a game-tying single to center fielder Billy Godrick after a leadoff walk and a sacrifice bunt. David Stiehl came in to try and stop the bleeding for Northeastern, but immediately gave up an RBI fielder’s choice to Noah Cabrera to give the Tigers a 2–1 lead.

“Leadoff walks always come back to bite you,” Glavine remarked. “We made a few mistakes here today late in the game.”

The game ended on a controversial note, as Husky pinch hitter Corey DiLoreto grounded into a game-ending fielder’s choice despite the runner (Costello) being safe at second base. Costello was called out because he violated the NCAA force-out slide rule in not sliding into second. It was a frustrating ending to a frustrating loss for Northeastern, especially after their 15-run explosion the day before.

“We had an opportunity there late in the ninth inning and put a little run into it,” Glavine said. “But we just came up short and . . . we’ve got to put this one behind us.”

Northeastern star second baseman Scott Holzwasser left the game late with a lower-body injury he sustained while running out a ground ball in the seventh. He initially stayed in the game, but was visibly hobbled and was later removed as Max Viera slotted in for him.

Glavine noted that in tight one-run games such as this one, it’s on the coach to get the team over that scoring hump. He said he failed to do that Friday.

Game Three

The Huskies looked to turn things around on Saturday, and they made that more than clear in the first inning. Costello stayed hot in the leadoff spot with a single, and quickly advanced to third on a Viera double. Dupere added to his RBI tally by hitting a ground ball to just the right spot, scoring Costello and giving the Huskies a 1–0 lead. 

Sebastian Keane started things on the mound for the Huskies and, in contrast to most of the rest of the season, was red-hot out of the gate. Keane mowed down the Tigers through five innings, allowing only four hits and walking one while striking out five.

“I think he had that right mindset today,” Glavine said, “He also loves the hot weather, and it was 90 today, so he was just pumping early. I just think if he has that right frame of mind, his mechanics are where they need to be.”

Ian Fair went deep in the fourth inning to double the lead for Northeastern and gave Keane some breathing room. Not that he would need it, as he cruised through his start allowing a grand total of zero runs. Wyatt Scotti, making an usual appearance out of the pen due to the shorter-than-usual series, was next up, and pitched a blistering inning in relief. Both Keane and Scotti pitched at breakneck pace, making the game a shorter affair.

A throwing error in the sixth gave the Huskies their third run. In the next inning, Costello crushed a home run to left-center field that bounced off the top of the wall, increasing his side’s lead to four. JP Olson was next in on the action, as he smacked one over the fence to extend the Huskies lead to five in the ninth inning.

The stingy pitching from Keane and Scotti carried over to the rest of the bullpen, as James Quinlivan and Brandon Dufault pitched two smooth innings to close out the game. The Huskies took the series from the Tigers with the 5–0 win.

“It feels really good,” Glavine said of Saturday’s win. “This wasn’t just another regular game where we played a bunch of different guys. We wanted to win the series and go into the tournament feeling good. We wanted to win.”

Huskies Drop Series Capper to Blue Hens, 9–7

Story by Catherine Morrison

Photos by Sadie Parker

NEWARK, DE — On a sweltering Sunday afternoon, the Northeastern Huskies (30–8, 18–2 CAA) looked to put themselves back together after a devastating Saturday loss to the Delaware Blue Hens (12–22, 8–16 CAA) that ended their NCAA-best 20-game winning streak.

Wyatt Scotti was tapped to start for the Huskies, while Wyatt Nelson got the start for the Blue Hens. In what would become a battle of the Wyatts, Scotti ended up searching for his command in a rare shaky outing. 

Scotti started off the first inning by hitting three batters in a row to load the bases. The third batter, Joseph Carpenter, ended up leaving the game in the next inning.

Up next was the massive Jack Goan, who slammed a deep sac fly to right field to put the Blue Hens on the scoreboard. Scotti’s troubles were far from over, as he gave up a hit to the first batter he faced in the second inning, Eric Ludman. Ludman was sent home, along with Kyle Baker, by a double from Vinny Vaccone.

“We hit too many guys in the first inning there,” Northeastern head coach Mike Glavine said. “The first inning was tough because we had some guys on our side that didn’t score. We escaped with only one run so I thought that was huge. Then [Scotti] kind of settled in and gave us five innings. But he just has to attack the zone better.”

Northeastern looked to get ahead of the Blue Hens in the top of the third and led off with a hit by catcher JP Olson. Spenser Smith, who had four extra-base hits in the doubleheader on Saturday, advanced Olson with a hit. Olson got his opportunity to run home two batters later on a single by Scott Holzwasser. 

The Huskies seemed to be back in prime form and hunting for the lead in the fourth after a scoreless third by Scotti. Their patient approach paid off, as the first two batters Nelson faced, Ryan Cervone and Corey DiLoreto, walked. Olson singled for the second straight at-bat, sending Cervone home and DiLoreto to second. Both advanced on a wild pitch as Nelson struggled to regain control of the inning. A sacrifice flyout and an RBI double was all it took to tie the game at three runs apiece, and Nelson was replaced by Derek Wakeley.

Wakeley looked to get out of the jam but struggled, walking his first batter with four straight pitches and sending Costello home on a wild pitch that went behind the catcher to the backstop. Wakeley then gave up a double to Max Viera, scoring Holzwasser.

It looked like the Huskies had regained their mojo, setting the basepaths aflame and getting a 6–4 lead. However, it wasn’t meant to be, as the Huskies only gained one more in the sixth inning while their struggling bullpen gave up the lead. David Stiehl gave up two runs in the sixth, tying the game. Northeastern looked to retake the lead in the top of the seventh but were stymied by sophomore Joey Silan, who entered Sunday having pitched just one inning all season.

The Blue Hens had no such problem with Northeastern replacement Brandon Dufault. The leadoff batter Vaccone took first on a hit by pitch, then advanced to third when Dufault’s pickoff throw sailed over the first baseman’s head. Delaware made Dufault pay with a humongous two-run home run by Goan to make it 9–7.

“I thought he was throwing hard, he looked good,” Glavine said of Dufault. “I thought he was throwing hard, looked fresh, he hadn’t thrown since Wednesday. It was good to get him out there in that situation and I would do it again. I thought it was absolutely the right spot to bring him in, it just didn’t work out today.”

Northeastern was unable to come back in the ninth. After winning 20 games in a row, they’ve lost consecutive games for the first time since mid-February.

“We just had to come out and try to win a series, really,” Glavine noted. “It was good in a sense to have the pressure of the streak off, but today all we were trying to do was trying to win a series . . . We challenged them, and they got us today.”

One bright spot for Northeastern Huskies was Holzwasser, who reached base every time he made a plate appearance — three singles and two walks. When he crossed home plate in the fourth inning, Holzwasser officially beat the Northeastern record for career runs, previously held by Hernan Guerrero.

(Fun fact time: Delaware beat Northeastern in the 1998 conference tournament to advance to the NCAA playoffs, and Guerrero was named to the All-Tournament Team with teammate Carlos Peña. Ever heard of him?)

But back to Holzwasser.

“Scott was awesome this weekend, I think he was our best player, no question about that,” Glavine said. “Great power, great speed, great defense, brings the ability to get on base, steal bases, brings toughness, brings speed, brings athleticism . . . we saw them all this weekend. He does it all and the guys love him, he brings a lot of energy, and he did that this weekend . . . He’s had a tremendous career and we’re going to definitely need him moving forward.”