Jackson Goodman/WRBB Sports File

After falling short in their season-opening series against Arizona, the Huskies headed to Fort Myers, Florida, for the twentieth edition of a beloved tradition: Northeastern’s annual exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox to kick off spring training. 

Though the Red Sox stumbled early, they were quick to make changes and extend their undefeated streak against college teams to 43 with a 7-2 win over the Huskies. 

Left-handed pitcher Helcris Olivarez was first to the mound in his first game with Boston after starting his career in the Colorado minor leagues. Olivarez struggled to control his pitches, walking junior center fielder Mike Sirota and hitting sophomore Matt Brinker with a stray ball. After Sirota successfully stole second base, Alex Lane sent him all the way home, putting the Huskies up 1-0 in the first inning. 

With the bases loaded for Northeastern, Boston opted to make the first change in their lengthy  pitching rotation, retiring Olivarez in favor of Zach Fogell. The left-handed pitcher only had to toss a few balls to get the Red Sox out of a sticky situation, as Carmelo Musacchia’s line drive was picked up just outside of the diamond for Northeastern’s third out. 

The Huskies started off their pitching with Aiven Cabral, now in his sophomore season after a standout debut last spring. With Cabral on the mound and the Northeastern outfielders backing him up with a solid defense, the Red Sox struggled to put a man on the bases.

After a 1-2-3 inning from Red Sox right-handed pitcher Andrew Politi, fielding issues began to pop up for the Huskies and Boston started to crawl ahead.

At the bottom of the second, Nathan Hickey popped one out to center field and Sirota couldn’t make the catch, leaving an open opportunity for Corey Rosier to tag home plate and even the score. Although Lane missed the catch another fly ball, sending Mark Kolozvary running to first, a great double play ended the inning 1-1.

The Huskies thought they were getting a bit of a break in the top of the third when Chase Shugart stepped up to bat, as they’d claimed two of their three runs of last year’s exhibition game against him. However, a year in Worcester had done Shugart well and after an early mistake, hitting Luke Beckstein with a pitch, Shugart struck out two batters for the second and third outs of the inning.

At the bottom of the third, sophomore Joseph Hauser stepped up to the mound for the Huskies, but in just the second inning pitched in his collegiate career, the righty let through a three-run homer off the bat of Mark Contreras, another new Boston acquisition. 

After Brian Van Belle threw another 1-2-3 inning for the Red Sox, James Morice subbed in to pitch for Huskies. Morice faltered on the mound, walking his first batter, setting up a couple full counts, and allowing Kolozvary to steal third on a wild pitch. A base hit from Philip Sikes sent Kolozvary home, but a perfect strikeout against Christian Koss allowed Northeastern to escape the inning without any further blemishes. 

Errors on both sides continued into the fifth inning. Northeastern’s Justin Bosland started off strong with a double, and an error from third baseman Blaze Jordan let him sneak home for the Huskies’ third run of the afternoon. Back at the top of Northeastern’s batting order, right-handed pitcher Chih-Jung Liu walked both Beckstein and Sirota and hit Morice with a stray pitch. However, after Jack Goodman tried and failed to steal a base, Northeastern’s first out of the inning, and MacGregor struck out swinging, the Huskies only had one shot left to empty their loaded bases. Another strike out from the hands of Chih-Jung Liu sealed Northeastern’s last good chance. 

When the Red Sox returned to the offense, they put up the same danger the Huskies just had, loading the bases quickly. With two outs already under Northeastern’s belt, Sirota made the outfield catch to keep the score 5-2.

But Boston was hungry to score again. Three strikeouts eliminated Northeastern’s scoring chances at the top of the sixth, and the Red Sox never skipped a beat, tallying two runs in their last offensive opportunity. With runners on second and third, all the Red Sox needed was Goodman’s throwing error to send them home. 

With two outs and the bases loaded once again, Northeastern called a pitching huddle at the mound, giving Ryan Griffin a pep talk and a breather before the final batter stepped up to the plate. Matthew Lugo hit a ground ball, but was tagged out at first and Northeastern once again narrowly escaped the inning. 

The Huskies made one final push, but to no avail. With two outs on the board, Wyatt Scotti hit a line drive out to left field, claiming first base. But MacGregor’s hit to the same location made it easy for the Red Sox to tag out Scotti at second base and hand the Huskies a 7-2 loss in the seven-inning exhibition.

Although Northeastern started strong, the late-game defensive struggles were too much for the Huskies to overcome. Meanwhile, the Red Sox rotated through nine pitchers and were able to capitalize on Northeastern’s errors. The Huskies have a few more weeks of road games to work out the kinks before opening CAA play in mid-March. 

Northeastern’s next challenge comes against Minnesota this weekend. The Huskies will remain in Florida to face the Golden Gophers in a two-game stretch. First pitch flies at Jet Blue Park Saturday at 12:05.