18 and Counting: Huskies Topple Pride, 10–3

By Milton Posner

What seemed in the early stages like another Northeastern blowout, then like a war of bullpen attrition as Hofstra made a late-inning rally, wound up being another Northeastern blowout after all.

A 10–3 win boosted the Huskies to a 16–0 conference record (28–6 overall) and extended their win streak to 18 games, the longest in the nation. That conference start, the best in CAA history, has afforded the Huskies an eight-game division lead; although pandemic schedules are subject to last-minute change, Northeastern has likely clinched first place already.

The nature of the game begot unorthodox substitution patterns. The Huskies and Pride were just three games removed from the capper of their four-game weekend series, and both have four-game series beginning in two days. (Milton Posner and Catherine Morrison will call Northeastern’s Friday, Saturday, and Sunday games live for WRBB.)

The Huskies answered the time squeeze with a planned bullpen day. Brian Rodriguez started for the first time all season after 11 appearances out of the pen, ceding a hit and a walk in three scoreless innings. 

“Brian has started for us in years past. He had enough rest from the weekend, so it was an easy decision,” Northeastern head coach Mike Glavine explained. “We really wanted to win that first inning and keep the momentum on our side. I thought he did awesome — pounded the strike zone, pitched really well. I didn’t know how many innings he was going to give us; I just told him to go out and see how it went.”

Thomas Balboni, James Quinlivan, Owen Langan, Jake Gigliotti, David Stiehl, Eric Yost, and Brandon Dufault combined to forfeit just three runs the rest of the way. It was the second-most pitchers Glavine has used in a game this season, equaling the 11–2 win over UMass on March 3 (eight pitchers) and trailing only the 11–1 win over UMass on 4/7 (nine). Glavine confirmed that everyone is expected to be available for Friday’s game, save for Rodriguez.

Hofstra used a healthy six pitchers themselves, but it appeared to be a lot less deliberate. Starter Jack Jett — who had tossed six or more innings in six of his eight starts this season — exited the game without recording an out. Five days after the Huskies tagged him for seven runs on ten hits, they tagged him again. But this time, they didn’t need as many hits.

Jeff Costello and Scott Holzwasser walked to open the game. When they attempted a double steal on ball four to Jared Dupere, third baseman Ryan Morash couldn’t handle catcher Nick Marrero’s throw, allowing Costello to score. A Max Viera double cashed in Holzwasser and chased Jett from the game.

“That’s their Friday starter; he just pitched against us the other day,” Glavine noted. “They were probably thinking the same thing we were — wanting to win the first inning and get the momentum. So they gave it to one of their best starters.”

Michael O’Hanlon was first out of the pen for the Pride, and though he retired the side in order, back-to-back sacrifice flies from Danny Crossen and Ben Malgeri completed an odd Husky inning: four runs on just one hit, with no runners stranded.

“It might have been our best offensive inning of the whole year,” Glavine said. “Our guys really grinded out at-bats. We got to two strikes a couple of times but they couldn’t put us away. We really made [Jett] work.”

From then on, the Pride were left to play the same sort of bullpen game the Huskies did. And though O’Hanlon, Chris Mott, and Tristan Nemjo allowed just three combined hits in six innings of work, they still forfeited three runs to the Huskies. It was only in the ninth inning that the Huskies scored by stringing hits together. All told, the Huskies produced 10 runs on the afternoon using ten hits (including four doubles, two from Max Viera), six walks, six stolen bases in six tries, and three hit-by-pitches.

“We didn’t get the long ball today,” Glavine noted. “It was a bit of a hard day to hit; the wind was blowing in, so that’s what we need to be able to do — grind out those at-bats, make them work, drive up pitch counts, work our walks, get hit by pitches, steal bases, put pressure on them, and then get some big hits. We also had some big sacrifice flies. We talk about having a dynamic, relentless offense that scores runs in a lot of different ways. Today we didn’t do it with the home run; we did it with everything else, which was really great to see.”

After six empty innings to start the game, Hofstra finally broke through against Husky hurler Jake Gigliotti, manufacturing a run with a single, a walk, and a single. David Stiehl finished the inning in Gigliotti’s stead, but ceded two runs of his own in the eighth on a two-run double by Kevin Bruggeman. Eric Yost came on and nearly got burned on his first pitch to Brian Goulard, but the fly ball settled into Ben Malgeri’s glove on the center field warning track to neutralize the threat.

A home run would have pulled the Pride within two runs. But the Huskies posted their three spot in the top of the following frame, and the 10–3 final score barely reflected the fingerprints of the snuffed-out Hofstra rally. The Huskies retained their streak, and the attention that has accompanied it.

“We’re streaking. We’re just kind of embracing it, owning it. Every day there’s more confidence than there was the day before,” Glavine said. “No one’s arrogant, no one’s taking anything for granted, no one’s nervous or worried about the streak. We talk about it openly. We know we have the longest streak in the country. We love it.”

“We know everybody wants to beat us,” he continued. “We know every time we play a game now, someone can knock us off. The guys keep rising to the occasion. If anything, it’s heightened their focus, their energy, their passion, and their enjoyment of the game. It really works for us in so many positive ways and it’s been great to see.”

Huskies Extend Win Streak to NCAA-Best 16

By Adam Doucette

BROOKLINE, MA — Northeastern baseball continued their NCAA-leading win streak Saturday with a doubleheader sweep against the Hofstra Pride. The two wins moved them to 14–0 in conference play and 26–6 overall, and built their win streak to 16 games.

“We try to have fun with it,” Northeastern head coach Mike Glavine said of the streak. “I’m sure there’s a little added pressure, but at the end of the day it’s something to be proud of.”

On the day that the seniors were honored before the action began, redshirt senior Kyle Murphy started game one for the Huskies. He went seven innings, giving up only three runs on four hits in the 5–3 win.

“These guys have given us contributions in so many different ways,” Glavine said of the senior class. “Just great teammates, great people — they’ve given the university a ton, given me a ton, given each other a ton, and they’re not done yet.”

The Pride jumped out to an early lead on a long home run by first baseman Rob Weissheier, but Husky second baseman Scott Holzwasser answered in the bottom of the first with a solo shot of his own to tie the game.

In the fourth inning, Husky third baseman Danny Crossen slapped a double down the left field line to score Jared Dupere. It was one of three hits in the game for Crossen.

The scoring let up until the top of the sixth, when Weissheier smashed his second home run of the game to give the Pride a 3–2 edge heading to the bottom of the frame. The Huskies again answered the bell on a Teddy Beaudet single to right field to score Crossen and center fielder Ben Malgeri, making it 4–3.

It was again Beaudet with a sacrifice bunt in the eighth to score Crossen and finish up the scoring. It was Crossen’s second time crossing the plate.

Pride starting pitcher Jimmy Joyce struck out 10 through seven innings, but it wasn’t enough to tame the Huskies’ offensive firepower.

“First game was tough, the seniors were great today, and Joyce was awesome for them, so we had to battle,” Glavine said.

While game one featured top-end pitching, game two was a slugfest. Holzwasser scored on a Max Viera single in the bottom of the first, but it was the second inning that was memorable. The Husky offense exploded for eight runs in an inning featuring RBI singles by Crossen and catcher JP Olson, plus a Jeff Costello grand slam that hit the foul pole in left.

The Pride got on the board in the fourth inning on a two-run homer from Santino Rosso, but the Huskies kept it coming with a run in the fifth on a flyout from Olson and the sixth on a homer from Dupere, his CAA-best fourteenth of the year.

“He’s a way better player than I ever was,” Glavine said. “He can run, he can defend, he’s got tremendous power, and he’s a game changer for us . . . he’s clutch.”

The Huskies closed it out with a plethora of pitchers in a rocky ninth inning featuring Thomas Balboni, Owen Batchelder, Craig Demers, and Owen Langan. The Pride added two more runs, but ultimately fell 14–8.

Northeastern starting pitcher Sebastian Keane went 5 ⅓, giving up four earned runs in a performance that was more than enough for the Huskies to get the win.

“Game two was kind of a wild game and didn’t have any flow, but overall I thought we played great today,” Glavine said. “I think they expect to win, but I don’t think they’re overconfident and that’s a fine line. I think we’re in the right place mentally right now, and it’s fun to watch.”

The Huskies finish up the four-game series with the Pride Sunday at 1 PM Eastern at Friedman Diamond. Jack Sinclair will have the call for WRBB.

Huskies Conquer Warriors, 12–5

Story by Milton Posner

Photos by Sarah Olender

BROOKLINE, MA — For the first three and a half innings of Wednesday afternoon’s game, the Merrimack Warriors, a squad playing its first full season in Division I, could dare to dream of upsetting the Northeastern Huskies, a squad with a .700 winning percentage. The Warriors jumped out to a 5–0 lead as the Huskies, who were coming off a 10-day COVID hiatus, struggled to keep up.

And then the hammer dropped.

Northeastern (15–6, 3–0 CAA) tacked on nine runs in the fourth and fifth innings and never looked back, eventually dismissing Merrimack (12–15, 8–7 NEC) by a score of 12–5.

“We were pretty bad early in the game, just sluggish and rusty, everything you get with a ten-day layoff,” Northeastern head coach Mike Glavine noted, adding that timing issues plagued the team until their second time through the order. “Overall it was a great win considering we weren’t on the field, hadn’t practiced as a team, just kinda showed up and played. So I was pretty impressed overall with how they did today.”

The defining stretch commenced with one gone in the bottom of the fourth, when hits from Ian Fair, Danny Crossen, JP Olson, and Spenser Smith — plus an error and a wild pitch — yielded four runs and chased Merrimack starter Stephen Fleury from the game.

It continued in the fifth as Merrimack hurlers increasingly lost their command. Jack Collins, brought on to relieve Fleury, ceded another four runs, all earned, to the surging Huskies. Scott Holzwasser was hit by a pitch and Jared Dupere singled him to second, then the pair executed the first of the Huskies’ two double steals on the afternoon. Crossen doubled them both home before Fair sent a line drive screaming the opposite way and over the fence.

For Fair, who entered the game hitting just .163 after being named CAA Preseason Player of the Year, the homer was an exceptionally welcome component of a three-for-four day at the dish.

“If Ian is going well, the ball is going to right-center field all day every day,” Glavine noted. “He is a game-changer for us. I don’t want to say he’s the key, but if he gets hitting our offense goes to another level . . . He’s had a couple monster games this year, and a couple of those times we’ve scored double-digit runs; it’s not by accident.”

Collins gave way to LT Pare, who fared little better on the mound. After Kyle Peterson singled, Pare hit Crossen, hit Olson, then walked Smith to force home a run. A fielder’s choice and a double play limited the damage, but the Huskies’ 9–5 lead effectively decided the game.

Base stealing was a critical component of the Huskies’ offensive engine all afternoon, as they swiped eight bases — including two apiece for Dupere and Fair — and were caught just once.

“We spend a ton of time on it in practice; we’ll have a lot of teams beat,” Glavine said. “So we have to utilize it. We talk about stealing bases, but we also talk about the game within a game, which is getting the pitcher to pick over to first a lot, distracting him so our hitter can get a good pitch. I like to think our baserunning is part of the reason why we get some walks and hit-by-pitches, some wild pitches and passed balls — because we put so much pressure on them and they know we can run.”

The last four frames featured three Husky runs and one highlight-reel moonshot. Dupere’s fifth home run in the last six games struck the roof of the auxiliary press box in right-center field and caromed out of the Friedman Diamond altogether. But Dupere’s cold-blooded reaction made a titanic shot even better; the Husky right fielder started undoing his batting gloves as he left the batter’s box and eased into his home-run trot.

On the pitching side, Glavine followed through on his pregame promise to deploy a number of hurlers, largely because of the ten-day layoff. He pulled starter Wyatt Scotti after just two innings, saying Scotti would likely be used this weekend.

“He made a mistake; he was late covering home plate on that wild pitch or he probably would have gotten the guy out,” Glavine said of the play that yielded Merrimack’s first run. “But overall I thought he pitched really well.”

David Stiehl, who relieved Scotti, ceded four runs (three earned) in 1⅓ innings as he struggled to find his command. When he walked a batter after a 3–0 mound visit, Glavine subbed him out.

The hurlers who followed him fared far better. James Quinlivan, Brian Rodriguez, Thomas Balboni, and Eric Yost combined for 5⅔ scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and two walks across that span. Yost was particularly effective, setting down the side in the ninth on just six pitches.

“It’s constantly resetting; I don’t know how the guys are doing it, to be honest,” Glavine said of his pitching staff in light of the COVID layoff. “For them to come out and do what they did today, I was really impressed.”

The Huskies will continue their 15-game homestand with a four-game series against the Delaware Blue Hens. WRBB will call all four contests, beginning with a 2 PM Eastern tilt on Friday; Milton Posner, Khalin Kapoor, and Jack Sinclair will be on the mic for that one.

Huskies March Past Minutemen for Doubleheader Sweep

Story by Khalin Kapoor

Photos by Sadie Parker

BROOKLINE, MA — The Northeastern Huskies (10–5) secured a three-game weekend sweep on Saturday afternoon against UMass (7–8), winning the doubleheader games 5–2 and 4–3. Throughout the day, the Huskies were powered by dominant starters Cam Schlittler and Sebastian Keane along with potent hitters Ben Malgeri, Jeff Costello, and Spenser Smith.  

In a seven-inning first game, Northeastern pounced on the Minutemen early, notching three runs on four hits against opposing starter Max LeBlanc in the first. LeBlanc didn’t make it past the second inning and was saddled with the loss, giving up four runs. On the season, Northeastern has yet to lose a game after scoring the first run.

“We jumped out early and they kept chipping away,” Northeastern head coach Mike Glavine remarked.

Husky hitters forced LeBlanc to labor through at-bats, waited for the inevitable mistakes, and promptly capitalized on them. In the fourth, Malgeri extended the Huskies’ lead to five with an RBI triple. Malgeri led off both games and had himself a day at the dish, going four for six with two runs batted in, a run scored, three steals, and a walk.

Northeastern hurler Cam Schlittler continued his solid run of starts, spinning five innings of one-run ball, striking out nine, and scattering just three hits. He mowed down UMass hitters early, but a questionable balk call following a couple of hits and a wild pitch in the fifth ended his bid for a shutout. Northeastern coach Mike Glavine had some choice words for the umpire after the call, but it was an overall dominant performance for Schlittler, who was credited with the win.

“I thought Schlittler was outstanding in game one,” Glavine said. “Gave us a chance to win that ballgame.”

The Northeastern offense stalled after the fourth and the Minutemen began chipping away at the lead, bringing the game to 5–2 heading into the seventh. Northeastern fireballer Brandon Dufault came in with some heat, consistently hitting 96 with his fastball to shut the door on the Minutemen and secure the win.

In the second game, Northeastern again jumped out to an early lead courtesy of an RBI double by Costello. UMass starter Daniel Livnat limited Northeastern to just that one run in his five innings of work, but he consistently created jams that he then pitched himself out of.

“We had a bunch of opportunities early in the game to extend the lead and we just couldn’t come up with the big hit,” remarked Glavine. “We just couldn’t get anything going and then finally late in the game we just kept grinding.”

The real story of the game was Northeastern starter and Boston Red Sox draft pick Sebastian Keane. Keane started by retiring the first 14 batters he saw, striking out eight. However, his perfect game bid was broken by UMass slugger Michael Rounds, who tied the game with a solo blast to left field.

It looked like the Minutemen were starting to figure out Keane the third time through the lineup, as second baseman Eddy Hart blasted a two-run homer in the sixth to put them up 3–1. Keane finished his night with a career-high 10 strikeouts, giving up three runs on three hits over seven strong innings.

“Seb was cruising along and pitching great,” Glavine noted. ”I thought he looked awesome . . . as good as he’s thrown for us and as time went on, the at bats got a little bit harder.”

Northeastern’s Smith provided a badly needed offensive spark in the seventh, blasting a triple after working a masterful 12-pitch at-bat. Malgeri drove him in to cut the deficit to one.

“Spenser Smith — huge, huge at-bat, as big of an at-bat we had all day,” said Glavine. “He hit the huge triple and it relaxed our team and was really a game changer.”

In the eighth, the Huskies rallied to take the lead with RBI hits from Costello and Danny Crossen. In the most important moment, the Northeastern offense finally strung some hits together and put runs on the board.

But the drama was not yet over. Reliever Thomas Balboni was brought in to save the 4–3 lead, but he had some trouble finding the zone. After recording the first two outs, he put runners on second and third and forced Glavine to put in Jake Gigliotti. After a walk, Gigliotti recorded a lineout to finish an absolute nail-biter of a ninth inning and secure the sweep.

After an extended hiatus, this weekend series showed some serious versatility from Northeastern, which Glavine recognized. They ran up the score on Friday, manufactured and kept the lead in the first game on Saturday, and rallied to win the second game. Going forward, the Huskies may try and work on fixing some baserunning issues and increasing their batting average with runners in scoring position.

The Huskies face off against Bryant University on March 30 in Rhode Island.

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.”