Grand Slam Lifts Huskies to 14–11 Revenge Win over Wake Forest

By Sarah Olender

After a 9–0 loss last night, the Northeastern baseball team couldn’t be expected to be in high spirits. It couldn’t have been easy to return for a third game against the No. 17 Wake Forest team that dominated in every facet of the game.

Still, the Huskies started strong, with Scott Holzwasser and Ian Fair reaching base and freshman Max Viera driving Holzwasser in on a single. The Huskies kept their lead through the first, with redshirt freshman Cam Schlittler striking out two batters. 

“We finally won the first inning,” said Head Coach Mike Glavine. “We got in there and scored and shut them down, got off to a good start.”

Schlittler walked junior Shane Muntz, who was sent around the bases by a home run to center field from freshman Brock Wilken. The Huskies answered in the top of the third as Holzwasser and Ben Malgeri scored on Jared Dupere base knock. The bats stayed alive as Fair advanced Dupere on a single before a Corey DiLoreto sac fly cashed him in and made it 4–2 in Northeastern’s favor. Clean fielding and another Schlittler strikeout kept the Deacons scoreless in the bottom half.

To start the fourth, Wake Forest dug into their bullpen, bringing out Crawford Wade. A dropped third strike and a Wade overthrow to first put Northeastern’s Spenser Smith on third with two out, and though Wade fanned Holzwasser to end the threat, his pitch count did suffer for the experience. In the bottom of the fourth, Schlittler, still pitching a great game, started losing speed, and had to work himself out of trouble. 

Wake Forest reached into their bullpen again in the fifth, and hurler Reed Mascalo gave up a 436-foot bomb to Dupere on just his third pitch of the game. Northeastern opted to stay with their starter, and a barrage of Deacon hits put traffic on the bases and shrank the Husky lead to 5–3.

Midway through the sixth, as Northeastern began to connect on Mascalo’s pitches, Wake Forest brought in their fourth pitcher of the game, Camden Minacci, with a Northeastern runner on third. A fielder’s choice, an infield single, and a groundout combined to cash in two runs and increase the Husky lead to four.

In the bottom of the sixth, Northeastern finally pulled their starter, and redshirt sophomore Owen Langan took the mound. After a series of small hits and walks loaded the bases, Malgeri lost Pierce Bennett’s fly ball in the sun in right-center. The error closed the score to 7–6 in Northeastern’s favor.

In an effort to regain the momentum, Glavine called on redshirt freshman Thomas Balboni to change things up on the Deacons. Balboni immediately ceded a two-run single to Rémi Lanzoni that drove in two runs and gave the Deacons their first lead. Wake Forest kept smacking singles and loading the bases, eventually batting around and taking a 9–7 lead behind a six-run sixth inning.

But Northeastern didn’t give up. With two men in scoring position, Kyle Peterson drove a single to right field to re-tie the game. Northeastern loaded the bases again and Wake Forest brought Eric Adler to the mound to face Holzwasser in a jam. On a 3-1 count, Adler threw a perfect fastball and Holzwasser capitalized on the opportunity, driving the pitch out to left center. His grand slam brought the score to 13–9 in the Huskies’ favor.  

“A few of those runs defensively we could have hung our heads and felt sorry for ourselves, but we came out fighting,” Glavine siad. “I think that’s going to pay dividends and speak volumes as this season goes on. We come back after a tough inning and keep fighting . . . To give up six runs in an inning and come back and score six was just incredible to see.”

Wake Forest answered a Northeastern RBI sac fly in the top of the eighth with a Chris Lanzilli solo homer in the bottom half. Despite an 11th Wake Forest run in the bottom of the ninth, Brandon Dufault closed out the Deacons by forcing a groundout from Bobby Seymour with two on.

Save for the first three innings of Saturday’s game, the Huskies had a strong weekend against the No. 17 Demon Deacons. Despite losing two of three games in their opening series, they were competitive in most innings.

“This weekend it was a swing or pitch or play away from winning the series against a team like Wake,” Glavine said. “I’m just really proud of the guys this weekend.”

Northeastern Baseball Falls to Wake Forest in Season Opener

By Jordan Baron

These days, it’s pretty routine to find a baseball team at the AA level or higher where a majority of the pitching staff can throw 95 or higher. What’s abnormal is when a college team has that.

But that’s exactly what the Northeastern Huskies faced in their Friday night season opener, as they squared off on the road against the No. 17 Wake Forest Demon Deacons and their 11 flamethrowers. And, to everyone’s surprise, the unranked Huskies put up quite the fight against their ACC opponent. They fought back from an early deficit to take the lead in the middle innings before a three-run bomb and some good relief work gave the Deacons an 8–6 win.

“Pretty fun college baseball game and thought it was pretty well played by both teams,” Northeastern head coach Mike Glavine said. “Not the result that we wanted, but certainly a really good battle.”

Northeastern redshirt senior starter Kyle Murphy went five innings and gave up five earned runs across that span, four of which came in the first. The Huskies outhit the Deacons 12 to six but couldn’t convert the hits into runs, as they left eight men on base.

Murphy did not begin his season the way would’ve liked to, hitting the first batter he faced before giving up a double and a walk to load the bases. Junior catcher Shane Muntz punished the right-hander with a bomb of a grand slam to put the Deacons up by four.

Murphy settled in after that, and pitched extremely well for four innings, giving up just one more run and retiring the last six batters he faced. Murphy, whose K/9 sat at around 12.5 during last-year’s pandemic shortened season, fanned seven batters in his five innings.

“He’s a veteran, but even still for him it’s [the] first inning, it’s outside, it’s another team, and just kind of settling in. Once he got through that first inning . . . he pitched really well,” Glavine said.

The Husky offense faced the mighty arm of sophomore firebender Ryan Cusick, whose fastball topped out at nearly 100 mph on the evening. The #40 ranked prospect in college baseball lived up to his reputation; through five innings he had retired eight batters via the punchout and given up just three hits.

“There’s less room for error,” Glavine noted. “Obviously you can’t get down when you strike out or feel like you’re not grinding. And you got to find ways to lengthen at bats, make them work a little bit, try to drive up pitch counts and then wait for mistakes. You’ve got to be ready for them.”

Cusick had all the confidence coming out for the sixth, and with a 5–0 deficit against a nationally ranked team, the Huskies were in a very tough spot.

Suddenly, however, Northeastern caught up to Cusick’s fastball, as redshirt sophomore Ben Malgeri doubled to lead off the inning and advanced to third on a groundout to get himself 90 feet from scoring the Huskies’ first run. Redshirt junior Ian Fair used his power to muscle a fly ball to deep center for an easy sacrifice fly.

With two outs, the scoring threat looked to be neutralized, but the resilient Huskies slapped two straight singles to give redshirt sophomore Corey DiLoreto an opportunity for more damage. The first baseman took it and smacked a laser beam down the left field line that barely bounced in fair territory for a double, scoring both runs and bringing the Huskies within two. Cusick completed the inning, but his pitch count was too high to go any further.

“Strikeouts can add up,” Glavine said. “Even though they stink as far as not putting balls in play, if you force him to throw four, five, six pitches to punch you out, you hope that helps out later.”

Northeastern kept the ball rolling in the seventh and eighth against the Wake Forest bullpen, striking for one in the former and two in the latter to take a 6–5 lead. Redshirt sophomore Owen Langan pitched two innings of scoreless relief in the home half of the sixth and seventh, striking out two Deacons and not allowing a hit.

Entering the late innings, the Huskies looked poised to take a victory in their season opener. However, Deacon freshman Brock Wilken had other ideas, as he rocketed a ball down the left field line and over the fence for a three-run homer off redshirt junior reliever Brandon Dufault. The Deacons finished with a 1-2-3 ninth and snatched the victory.

“We’ll just regroup tonight,” Glavine said. “Tomorrow [we’ll] see how the guys feel and try to get some other guys in there . . . I think they got a couple freshmen arms in there tonight which is something they probably want to do and same for us, trying to get different arms in.”

The Huskies will send sophomore Sebastian Keane to the hill tomorrow to face junior William Fleming.