Story by Jack Sinclair
Northeastern baseball came into Saturday’s game with their heads held high: they had just knocked the top-seeded College of Charleston Cougars into the losers bracket and had a chance to advance to the championship game with a win against the Hofstra Pride. However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Huskies.
The Huskies did get off to a quick start, however. Junior designated hitter Corey DiLoreto hammered a double in his first at bat to get the offense going. A wild pitch advanced him to third, and a sacrifice groundout from redshirt sophomore catcher JP Olson brought him home to open up the scoring.
The good vibes quickly were vaporized, after a leadoff dropped-third-strike meant that the Pride had a man on base. Northeastern starter sophomore Eric Yost was clearly a little shaky to begin the game, but managed to fight back to strike out Hofstra stud junior batter Will Kennedy. While he got the better of Kennedy, Yost was unable to beat senior left-fielder Brian Morrell, the next man up. Morrell sent a deep fly ball way over the left field fence for a two-run home run and handed the lead over to Hofstra.
Yost was not out of the woods yet, as he allowed a pair of singles to put runners on the corners. Then, graduate student designated hitter Jake Liberatore stepped up to the player and sent another deep fly ball over the left field fence, giving his team a 5-1 lead in the ballgame.
Yost managed to escape the inning without further damage, and the Huskies switched their sights from defense to offense. Being down 5-1 meant that the Huskies had to chip away and focus on playing their style of baseball. The long ball wasn’t going to happen for them, with under 30 home runs combined as a team on the season. The Huskies focused on going deep into at bats, and smacking the ball around the infield to advance runners into scoring position. It worked, as freshman center-fielder Justin Bosland smacked a double to the outfield, and was brought home by freshman left-fielder Luke Masiuk’s single down the right-field line. Masiuk kept his foot on the gas, swiping second base and advancing to third on a throwing error. A good piece of hitting from redshirt junior shortstop Spenser Smith sent the ball up the middle for a single, scoring Masiuk and cutting the Northeastern deficit to three runs.
Smith struck again in the fourth inning, again sending a single up the middle for an RBI. Righty Nick Davis stepped onto the mound to relieve Yost in the bottom half of the frame, and was throwing absolute flames to start his appearance. The redshirt junior retired the first nine batters he faced. He got a huge boost in the sixth inning, after graduate student third baseman Buddy Mrowka hit a single, and Masiuk brought him home with a bomb to left center to take the lead of the ballgame, 6-5. It looked like the Huskies were in control of the game and could carry that momentum to the end.
However, Davis ran into trouble after putting two men on base in his fourth inning of work. Despite his great start, the leash was short for the reliever, and putting those runners on was enough for head coach Mike Glavine to pull him out of the game, and replace him with right-handed redshirt junior Owen Langan. Langan’s relief outing started with him shooting himself in the foot, as an immediate wild pitch put runners on second and third base. Langan settled down, but still allowed Hofstra hitters to hit back-to-back sacrifice fly balls giving the Pride a 7-6 lead in the ballgame.
It was clear that after the fourth lead change of the ballgame, that either team could take the win. Neither side was showing any signs of backing down, and the Huskies showed how hard they could fight in the top of the ninth. Senior right fielder Jeff Costello kept his final season in a Northeastern jersey alive with a double to left field, and Olson followed with a single to tie the game.
Senior righty Jordy Allard came in to pitch the bottom of the ninth, and pitched in a similar manner to the way he has since arriving at Northeastern. He survived a brief jam with a pair of runners on base to send the game into extra innings.
In extras, Hofstra turned to their secret weapon. The Pride put their veteran senior starter Brad Camarda on the mound for the 10th, and he was absolutely red hot. He stifled the Husky’s bats, and quickly brought his team back to the offensive side of the ball. Red shirt junior pinch-runner Zach Bailey managed to smack a double off Allard, and after an unsuccessful sacrifice bunt, junior second baseman Santino Rosso hit another double to right field to drive in the game winning run and a spot in the CAA Championship game.
The Huskies’ day was not done yet, as they had to play in a losers bracket re-match against the College of Charleston Cougars.
With the memory of the morning’s stinging defeat still fresh in their minds, the Huskies were quick to jump all over the Cougar’s starter, right-handed junior Emmett Bice. Bice pitched a relatively clean first inning, but his command quickly fell off a cliff. He led off the next inning with back-to-back hit batters, followed immediately by a walk, which loaded the bases. This set the stage for Costello to smack a bases clearing double to center field to give Northeastern the 3-0 lead. The next man up, DiLoreto, hit the Huskies’ second home run of the tournament to give them a five-run lead.
Northeastern was clearly in command of the game, as redshirt sophomore starter Sebastian Keane pitched through four innings of scoreless baseball. The first Cougars runs came in the fifth, with a two RBI double from senior designated hitter, Landon Choboy. Keane stayed out for the start of the second, but a solo shot from senior first baseman Tanner McCallister was enough for Glavine to hand the ball over to right-handed sophomore Michael Gemma. He retired the first 10 batters he faced, before allowing a walk in the bottom of the ninth, causing Balboni to make his second appearance of the day. Balboni only needed to retire two batters, and he did exactly that, securing the win for his team. Northeastern ended the game with a 6-3 victory, and earned the right to play Hofstra once again in the CAA Championship game.
The Huskies will be back in action Sunday at 11 a.m. as they look to secure their second consecutive CAA Championship title. They will have to win two in a row against Hofstra to do so. Jack Sinclair and Daisy Roberts will have the call for WRBB Sports.