The Northeastern Huskies (5–5) split a doubleheader with the UMass Lowell River Hawks (1–7) Friday afternoon at Parsons Field.
In the first game, Northeastern starter Kyle Murphy settled in, striking out eight and only allowing four hits and three earned runs. Murphy, who battled command issues in his previous start, breezed through six innings. Northeastern backed up Murphy offensively, scoring four runs in the fifth on top of three runs from the first four innings.
“The good thing is he’s been able to settle in some games and come back,” Northeastern head coach Mike Glavine said. “I think he was 90 to 94 today and stuff looked excellent. We’ve just got to find a way to be cleaner when he pitches. We’ve gotta limit the free bases . . . It seems to speed up on us a little bit, but he’s a calming presence out there which is big for us.”
UMass Lowell pitcher Collin Duffley, on the other hand, struggled with his command, allowing five runs (four earned) in four innings. He only struck out three and hit two.
His replacement, Sal Fusco, didn’t fare much better. Fusco came in with two batters on base, and promptly hit Corey DiLoreto in the head. DiLoreto looked shaken as he walked to first base and was looked at by an athletic trainer, then was replaced by Ryan Cervone. It was a huge loss, as DiLoreto is one of Northeastern’s main offensive producers.
Northeastern’s next batter, Scott Holzwasser, got revenge with a two-run double. Fusco was clearly rattled and gave up another run, threw a wild pitch, and hit another Northeastern player to make the score 7–3 Northeastern after five.
Northeastern has not had a problem this season tacking the runs on, but has struggled to pitch and field well enough to keep leads in the later innings. Friday afternoon was no different.
David Stiehl replaced Murphy in the seventh and quickly found himself in a jam with bases loaded and one out. Stiehl was clearly rattled and walked the next batter, making the score 7–4 Northeastern. He stuck out the next batter with six pitches, and looked as if he might be regaining his composure. The feeling didn’t last long, however, as the next batter homered to left field for a grand slam, sending the UMass Lowell dugout into wild cheers and giving the River Hawks an 8–7 lead. Owen Langdon replaced Stiehl to get the last out and give Northeastern a chance to regain the lead after a disastrous seventh inning.
Northeastern couldn’t recover however, and failed to get anything going in the last two innings. UMass Lowell added another two runs in the ninth, handing Northeastern a disappointing 10–7 defeat.
“The first game was just a really, really, tough loss,” Glavine said. “We just couldn’t put them away. We had an opportunity to extend the lead multiple times offensively and then we just didn’t do enough defensively and on the mound . . . We just gotta learn how to win these tight games.”
Northeastern has struggled to find its identity this season after COVID-19 shortened their last campaign, and this doubleheader was a prime example of that. Whereas the first game was a long, drawn-out slugfest, the second game was a short and sweet pitchers’ duel.
Freshman Sebastian Keane started for the Huskies. After some rocky starts this year, Keane was lights out Friday, pitching a shutout while allowing only two hits and zero walks. Keane worked quickly and efficiently, striking out nine and throwing only 102 pitches.
“I thought his fastball was awesome,” Glavine said. “He was throwing 93 in the ninth so I thought that was a big thing for him, the slider was a strikeout pitch as well. I thought he really commanded the strike zone with both pitches. I thought JP Olsen was outstanding behind the plate receiving Seb and did a great job. He really was just dominant today and hopefully he’s got many more of those ahead.”
Despite Keane’s incredible performance, Northeastern didn’t do much to back him up offensively. The only two runs came in the third inning. Freshman River Hawk hurler Zach Fortuna was already on shaky ground with his command, and started the inning by striking out Max Viera. He then walked Jared Dupere, who advanced to second on a wild pitch. In keeping with Northeastern’s aggressive base stealing policy, Dupere then stole third. The aggressive baserunning was for nought, as Fortuna walked Holzwasser and then advanced him to second when he hit the next batter.
Clearly spent, Fortuna was replaced by Miles Cota, who walked his first batter to give Northeastern their first run. Cota was saved by his fielders when the next batter, Danny Crossen flied out to left field. The third baseman threw to second for the third out after Dupere ran home to make the score 2–0 Northeastern.
“When we talk about the offense, it’s whatever it takes,” Glavine said. “Some days it’s going to take ten, some days it’s going to take two, and a lot of the times the two is much harder than the ten. That means somebody’s pitching really well or we’re shorthanded or things just aren’t going our way . . . In game two we’re just scrapping and clawing and got some free bases and walks and stole some bases and got a bunt down and just fighting to find those runs.”
After a shaky third, Cota settled in and pitched a stellar five innings without giving up another run.
Northeastern battled through two very different games to split the doubleheader against the Seahawks, exemplifying the struggles they’ve had early into the season.
“We are searching for answers a little bit here and right now we’re just a poorly coached team and not doing enough things well,” Glavine admitted. “We just have to find a way to get better. We gotta start believing we can win.”
Northeastern will look to win the series tomorrow against UMass Lowell at 1 PM.