Story by Mike Puzzanghera
BROOKLINE, Mass. — Despite a go-ahead two-run homer from Jeff Costello in the bottom of the eighth inning, Northeastern was unable to hold on Saturday afternoon at Friedman Diamond. UNCW’s Jay Croom crushed a two-out go-ahead homer off Jordy Allard in the top of the ninth inning, giving the Seahawks a 5-4 win and a series win over the Huskies.
After Friday’s loss in game one of the series saw the Huskies put up just two runs, they attacked early on Saturday. After two infield singles from Max Viera and Justin Bosland in the bottom of the third, Costello knocked Viera in from second with an RBI single before Corey DiLoreto scored Bosland on a sacrifice fly to right.
That run support looked like it was going to be enough, as Cam Schlittler was in a groove on the mound. Through the first six innings, Schlittler struck out six while just allowing two hits. He found his rhythm and stuck to it, keeping a sharp pace on the mound and working through UNCW hitters quickly and effectively.
“I saw an awesome competitor with really good stuff,” said Northeastern head coach Mike Glavine of his starter. “I thought it was his most mature start of the season. … He just focused on our team, and ignored all the noise.”
But UNCW got one back in the top of the seventh, as star Brooks Baldwin lined an opposite-field home run to left that just snuck over Luke Masiuk’s glove. For the first time, Schlittler had been beaten, and the Seahawks found some energy on the bench. A subsequent walk to UNCW shortstop Taber Mongero necessitated a mound visit, but Schlittler worked his way out of the jam with a strikeout and a double play.
The Seahawks got back to it against Schlittler in the top of the eighth. With two outs and two strikes, designated hitter Chris Thorburn lined a double down the left field line. He moved up to third on a wild pitch, then scored on a single right back up the middle from Ron Evans.
Glavine opted to leave Schlittler in with the light-hitting Noah Bridges up to bat. Bridges entered the game hitting just .117, but he struck with his biggest hit of the year — an RBI triple to the right-center field gap to give UNCW the lead.
“I wanted to go with my guy,” Glavine said of the decision to leave Schlittler in. “He’s my guy, and I’ll go down with him every time.”
Needing some offense in the bottom of the eighth, Viera struck a one-out single to center field. With UNCW starter Cyle Phelan still dealing on the mound, head coach Randy Hood left him in to work. He struck out Bosland, then worked the count full on Costello.
On Senior Weekend, Jeff Costello launched a two-run, two-out, two-strike home run to left field to give the Huskies the lead right back, 4-3. It was Costello’s third home run of the year.
“I had a feeling he was going to come through,” Glavine said. “I didn’t know what it was going to be, I didn’t know it was going to be a home run, but I felt like he was going to put a good swing on the baseball, which he did.”
Glavine left Allard on the mound for the ninth after the righty finished off the eighth inning. Allard struck out Mongero, then walked right fielder Ethan Baucom. He got power-hitting catcher Matt Suggs to pop out, then faced Croom with two outs. Croom got an 0-1 fastball he liked and crushed it into the bleachers in right-center field for his sixth home run of the season. Just like that, the Seahawks went back in the lead, 5-4.
Hunter Hodges stayed on the mound for UNCW and sent the Huskies down in order to seal the win. It sealed the series win for UNCW and clinched the Seahawks a spot in the CAA Tournament.
“There’s got to be a period of 20-30 minutes after a game where it hurts when you lose,” Glavine said. “I’m a sore loser, I want them to be sore losers, but then you’ve got to move on.”
The Huskies will look to avoid the sweep on Sunday afternoon with Sebastian Keane on the mound. WRBB will have the call at 1 p.m. with Peyton Doyle and Jack Sinclair on the mic.