Story by Daisy Roberts
The Northeastern Huskies faced a daunting opponent in the second round of the CAA Baseball Tournament as they took on the top-seeded College of Charleston Cougars. CofC was by far the best hitting team in the conference in the regular season, but Northeastern’s forte all year has been its pitching staff, with the fourth-best ERA in Division I baseball. At the end of the day, the better defense proved crucial. The Huskies took a 6-5 victory over the Cougars to stay in the winner’s bracket and more importantly, advanced to the conference semifinals.
The first inning was quiet for both teams. Taking the mound for Charleston was the right-handed junior Ty Good. In the regular season, Good was one of the best pitchers in the conference, ranking second overall with 83 strikeouts, as well as a strong 3.43 ERA. He started the day by retiring the first three Huskies batters he faced, although that consistency was not maintained throughout his outing.
On the bump for Northeastern was junior righty Cam Schlittler. Schlittler finished fourth in the CAA in strikeouts in the regular season with 76, and kept up that high-whiff pace throughout the game. He began by striking out five batters in the first two innings with that number eventually reaching nine through his total outing of seven innings.
“It starts with Cam Schlittler,” said Northeastern head coach Mike Glavine after the game. “[It was] one of the better starts of his career here against an incredible offense over there at Charleston. He was awesome.”
The Huskies started the scoring in the top of the second. A single off the bat of redshirt junior first baseman Danny Crossen, who hit the go-ahead home run in Wednesday’s first-round win over William & Mary, started off the inning. Freshman center fielder Justin Bosland followed him up with a walk to put two runners on with no outs. Good recorded two outs following the shaky start to the inning from a fielder’s choice from sophomore second baseman Luke Beckstein, advancing the runners to second and third, and a strikeout to graduate student third baseman Buddy Mrowka. However, Good wasn’t able to limit the Huskies’ offense, as freshman outfielder Luke Masiuk hit a solid single to center field that brought both base runners across home plate, giving Northeastern a 2-0 lead.
Schlittler struggled with his command in the bottom of the third, nailing senior shortstop Cam Dean with the first pitch he threw. Following Dean’s at-bat, a fielder’s choice and two walks left Schlittler with the bases loaded as All-CAA first team first baseman JT Marr came to the plate. Marr, one of the strongest hitters in the conference this season, hit a sharp single out to right field, but a quick throw in by senior Jeff Costello limited Marr to just one RBI. Junior third baseman Luke Wood then hit into a fielder’s choice to bring one more run across the plate, tying the game at two, but that was all the scoring CofC managed to muster up off Schlittler.
Northeastern’s offense really started to come alive in the top of the fourth, as Good walked two batters in a row to start the inning. He managed to record two outs, but quickly lost control again, walking the next two Huskies he faced, with Northeastern scoring the go-ahead run from a base on balls. That would mark the end of Good’s outing, with right-handed graduate student Reed Parris getting the final out of the inning, working himself out of the jam Good put him in.
The two-run third inning marked the only shaky one for Schlittler, as he would go on to retire the next eight batters he faced without any issue. Meanwhile, the Huskies’ bats started to capitalize on the Cougars’ defensive mistakes. To begin the top of the fifth, Dean made a throwing error off a ground ball from redshirt sophomore catcher JP Olson. Olson advanced to second on a fielder’s choice from Crossen, putting him in scoring position. Dean then made his second error of the inning, throwing wide right of first base off a Beckstein grounder. Some heads-up baserunning by the speedy Olson brought another run in for the Huskies, putting them up 4-2.
As Schlittler continued to roll through innings, Northeastern kept grinding out runs. A leadoff single in the top of the sixth from redshirt junior shortstop Spenser Smith put yet another baserunner on. Smith would then go on to steal second base and advance to third on a wild pitch in the span of two pitches, putting himself on third base with no outs. The veteran Costello did what he needed to do, hitting a sacrifice fly to center field, allowing Smith to score easily. After a third throwing error by Dean, Parris worked his way out of the inning, but Northeastern was now on top by three, slowly but surely pulling away from CofC.
The seventh inning was a quick one for both pitchers, but Northeastern struck again in the eighth. Consecutive singles from Smith and Costello took Parris out of the game, and freshman Cole Mathis replaced him on the mound. Olson came up clutch for Northeastern once more, hitting a chopper to second base. Charleston fell apart defensively again, as some miscommunication led to Olson being safe at first, Costello advancing to third, and Smith scoring his second run of the day. With a commanding 6-2 lead going into the bottom of the seventh, the Huskies seemed to be on track to advance to the semifinals rather easily.
However, if any team could come back and make this a close one, it would be the tournament’s No. 1 seed. Redshirt junior set-up man Owen Langan stepped in for the bottom of the eighth the second day in a row for the Huskies, although this outing did not go as smoothly as his previous one. He began the inning giving up a single to graduate student right fielder Sam Cochrane. Junior left fielder Trotter Harlan then proved why he was named to the All-CAA second team, blasting a home run over the left-field wall, cutting the Cougar deficit in half. Langan quickly regained his control and ended the inning, but not before Charleston dealt some damage.
After a quick top of the ninth, senior closer Jordy Allard looked to record his second save of the year, tallying his first one Wednesday. But Charleston was not going to go down easy. Slugging senior Landon Choboy came in as a pinch hitter and immediately impacted his team, knocking a double off the right-field wall. And after all his defensive mistakes, Dean finally did something productive, hitting an RBI single up the middle to bring the Cougars to within one run, with the winning run at the plate. However, Allard stepped up, and after a couple of flyouts, Northeastern successfully navigated their way past the juggernaut that CofC was this season and into the conference semifinals.
Overall, it was not a clean game from either side, start to finish. But Northeastern grinded out runs every which way, proving to be the more resilient side over the span of the nine innings.
“[The hitters] did it,” Glavine said. “They took the plan, they put it out there, and really grinded their at-bats out. It wasn’t pretty, we made it ugly. We stole some bases, we got some bunts down, we hit-and-run, we slashed, sac flies, we just really were an ugly offense today, in a good way. All the credit goes to the hitters.”
Northeastern will face Hofstra in the conference semifinals on Friday at 7 p.m. WRBB Sports will have the call live.