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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”