Huskies Ensnare Tigers in Series Opener

Story by Milton Posner

BROOKLINE, MA — Heading into this weekend’s series against Towson, Northeastern head coach Mike Glavine emphasized the recent successes of his starting pitchers, who ceded five measly runs to Delaware across 25 stellar innings last weekend. Among them was freshman phenom Cam Schlittler, who tossed seven innings of one-run ball in the third game of the series.

Friday afternoon, Schlittler outdid himself.

On the back of seven sparkling scoreless innings from the freshman, plus some savvy small ball from the offense, the Huskies took game one from the Towson Tigers, 3–0. It was the Huskies’ tenth consecutive win, their eighth straight to open conference play, and it moved them to 20–6 overall.

Not that Schlittler didn’t have company. Tiger starter Josh Seils matched him pitch for pitch most of the way. Seils was a bit tough to pinpoint heading into the game; he’d been named as a top 10 CAA prospect by Perfect Game USA before the season and was lauded by his coaches as a potential MLB draft pick, but entered Friday’s tilt with an ERA of 7.01.

“He’s a guy where you don’t really look at the numbers,” Glavine said. “I like him; I’ve liked him since the first time he pitched against us.”

It proceeded for a while as a pitchers’ duel, with both hurlers, particularly Schlittler, forcing weak contact off the end and handle of the bat. Most of the runners who reached in the first four innings did so by way of a walk, error, or a weakly hit ball that found a seam in the defense.

But in the fifth the Huskies broke through, or at least broke through on the scale a 3–0 small-ball pictures’-duel sort of game would allow. It began when Husky center fielder Ben Malgeri reached on a miscue by Tiger third baseman Josh Lysaght. Teddy Beaudet bunted Malgeri to third, a Spenser Smith single put runners at the corners, and Jeff Costello plated the run with a squeeze bunt.

“The wind was crazy; 30- to 40-mile-per-hour gusts make it really difficult to hit,” Glavine explained, noting that this sort of small ball becomes more important in an environment not conducive to driving the ball. (Neither team recorded an extra-base hit.)

The Huskies tacked on a second run a few minutes later, as Scott Holzwasser became the first of a handful of Huskies to split the seam between second and short. Holzwasser’s RBI single extended his on-base streak to 44 games, the longest such streak a Husky has had during Glavine’s tenure.

The Huskies tacked on another run in the seventh. Again it was Malgeri who set the table, this time by taking a pitch to the body. He swiped second, took third on another Beaudet sacrifice bunt, and scored on yet another Smith single. Seils was pulled shortly thereafter, having ceded three runs (one earned) over six and two-thirds innings.

The inning was also notable for a cameo by Towson reliever Teddy Blumenauer, who entered sporting a 23.40 ERA. Blumenauer hit Jared Dupere with his second pitch and was immediately yanked.

The top of the eighth saw Schlittler return to the mound with his pitch count nearing 100. His command had cratered, as he hit back-to-back batters and forced Glavine’s hand.

“He’s a competitor; I asked him if he felt good and he said he did,” Glavine said. “It’s a Friday and you want your starters to go as long as they can because you have three games behind this one. I shouldn’t have let him go out, my mistake; he’ll always say he wants to go out.”

But regardless, save for Sebastian Keane’s two-hit, nine-strikeout shutout against UMass Lowell on March 12, Schlittler’s start was the best any Husky has posted all year. In seven shutout innings, he fanned eight while allowing just four hits and one walk.

Reigning CAA Rookie of the Year Eric Yost pitched out of Schlittler’s jam in the eighth, then fireballer Brandon Dufault closed the door in the ninth to seal the win.

“He comes in and pounds the strike zone and gets us out of it in the perfect spot to get Brandon back out there, because he hasn’t been out there in two or three weeks,” Glavine said.

The Huskies and Tigers will face off again tomorrow in Brookline, with game one of the doubleheader beginning at 11 AM Eastern and game two beginning a short while after the first one concludes. Milton Posner will call both games for WRBB.