Jackson Goodman/WRBB Sports File

After a crushing 6-1 loss in Friday’s opener and a nail-biting 8-7 win in Saturday’s game, Northeastern came into the rubber match of the opening series of the season at Arizona with sophomore star right-handed pitcher Aiven Cabral taking the mound.

However, their hopes of starting off with a nonconference series win were broken by a painful 9-3 defeat in Sunday’s matchup, dominated early on by the Wildcats’ hitters and cold bats from the Huskies’ lineup. 

Sophomore second baseman Luke Beckstein led off the game for the Huskies with a double off of Arizona starting pitcher Anthony Susac. A fielder’s choice hit by star junior Mike Sirota advanced him to third, but he was left stranded after graduate first baseman Tyler MacGregor struck out and graduate student DH Alex Lane grounded out to close the top of the inning.

Cabral, who led the Huskies’ 2023 rotation with a 2.58 ERA, was unable to keep control of his pitches from the start, beginning the inning with a leadoff walk to sophomore left fielder Brendan Summerhill. An unassisted double play to MacGregor hit by sophomore shortstop Mason White kept the Wildcats controlled in the first, and the inning was wrapped up with a fielder’s choice hit by senior right fielder Emilio Corona. 

After a 1-2-3 top of the second by Susac, Arizona’s offense came to life. Cabral’s struggles continued when he walked junior catcher Adonys Guzman with one out. Afterwards, freshman DH Easton Breyfogle lined a double past Huskies third baseman Jack Doyle, and a fielding error sent Guzman home to put the Wildcats on the board. 

After two more walks and a two-run double to left center hit by Summerhill, Cabral was relieved by junior southpaw Jack Bowery. Bowery’s first batter, the shortstop White, was able to hit a single to left field, and reached second base on a fielding error by redshirt sophomore left fielder Harrison Feinberg that allowed two more runs to score, leading the Wildcats to an early 4-0 lead. 

The third inning was also frustrating for Northeastern’s batters. Both Doyle and Beckstein were able to get on base, with a walk and a single to right field respectively, but the inning was quickly shut down after Sirota grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. Bowery was able to pitch a scoreless third, allowing a single by Guzman and another to reach base on a fielding error by sophomore shortstop Carmelo Musacchia before throwing two strikeouts to end the inning.

The fourth inning remained unproductive for Northeastern’s batters, with the only hit being a line drive down the third base line by Lane for a double. Susac struck out right fielder Cam Maldonado and Musacchia to end the top of the inning. 

Bowery struggled in the bottom of the fourth, with Summerhill leading it off with a lined single to left field. With junior first baseman Tommy Splaine at the plate, Summerhill stole second and was able to score on a triple to right center past the diving glove of Maldonado. On the next pitch, Corona knocked a home run 443 feet to deep center field, growing the Wildcats’ lead to 8-0. After the home run, junior second baseman Garen Caulfield grounded out to second, and with two outs, Guzman hit a double down the left field line, but was stranded when Breyfogle grounded out to second. 

To start the fifth inning, Arizona relieved Susac with senior right-handed pitcher Cam Walty. With one out in the inning, senior catcher Jimmy Sullivan was able to reach first on a throwing error by Walty, and with walks to Beckstein and Sirota the bases were loaded with two outs. All three base runners were left stranded, however, when MacGregor flied out to deep center, continuing the Huskies’ offensive struggles. 

After the rough outing by Bowery, right-handed graduate pitcher Cooper McGrath came on the mound to pitch in his first appearance with Northeastern, but led off the bottom of the fifth with a walk to sophomore center fielder Brandon Rogers, who advanced to second on a fielder’s choice hit by junior third baseman Richie Morales. Rogers was able to score on a double hit to right center field by Summerhill, extending the Wildcats lead to 9-0, but two straight strikeouts from McGrath kept the inning under control. 

The offensive struggles continued in the top of the sixth, with Walty throwing a 1-2-3 inning to Lane, Maldonado, and Musacchia. The Huskies made multiple defensive changes in the bottom of the sixth, putting sophomore Jack Goodman at shortstop for Musacchia and having junior Justin Bosland take over in right field for Maldonado. On the mound, McGrath was relieved by right-handed junior Jack Beauchesne, who was able to pitch a 1-2-3 inning with one strikeout.

In the top of the seventh, the offensive finally came alive for Northeastern. 

Sophomore Matt Brinker, who pinch-hit for Sullivan, sent a ground ball through the middle of the infield for a single, and in the next at-bat, Doyle hit a fly ball deep to center field, dropping for a double at the warning track and scoring Brinker to put the Huskies on the board. Beckstein continued the momentum with a bloop single to right field, putting men at the corners. MacGregor followed it up with an RBI single to shallow left field, allowing Doyle to score and advancing Beckstein to second, but the momentum of the inning was ended when Lane grounded into a fielder’s choice, going into the seventh inning stretch with a score of 9-2. 

In the bottom of the seventh, freshman Ryan Gerety slotted into left field in place of Feinberg, and Brinker came in as catcher, while southpaw senior James Quinlivan came in to relieve Beauchesne on the mound. Pinch hitting freshmen Xavier Esquer and TJ Adams, who came in for Breyfogle and Rogers respectively, hit back-to-back flyouts to left field to start the bottom of the inning. Though Morales was able to hit a low pitch near the dirt for a double to keep the inning alive, Summerhill was fooled on a high pitch and struck out to end the inning for the Wildcats.

For the top of the eighth, Arizona slotted pinch-hitters Adams at center field and Esquer as designated hitter, and relieved Walty with senior right-handed pitcher Dawson Netz, who was able to pitch another 1-2-3 inning for the Wildcats. Right-handed pitcher Joseph Hauser came in to relieve Quinlivan for the Huskies. The sophomore pitched a 1-2-3 inning in his Northeastern debut, forcing a popout by White, a flyout by Splaine, and a groundout by Corona to end the inning.

To close out the game, Arizona relieved Netz with right-handed junior Matthew Martinez. Brinker was able to get his second hit of the afternoon with a single to left field, but was forced out on a fielder’s choice hit by Doyle. After Beckstein struck out looking, Sirota came up to the plate with two outs. Doyle stole second to start the at-bat, and Sirota kept the game alive by hitting an RBI single to shallow center field that allowed Doyle to score, giving the Huskies their third run of the night. However, the momentum was quickly shut down when MacGregor struck out, ending the game on a strikeout with a final score of 9-3. 

Going into next weekend’s yearly exhibition game against the Red Sox and the subsequent two-game series against Minnesota, the Huskies will be looking to show that they haven’t lost the stride that pushed them to a 44-16 record in 2023 and a preseason Top-25 ranking.

The Huskies will travel to JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Florida Friday for an exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m.