Kayla Shiao/WRBB Sports File

In their final road series before their home opener next week, Northeastern headed to Virginia to take on the Big Blue of Old Dominion University. Their three-game slate converged to a two-day split, and the Huskies began the weekend with a Friday doubleheader.

Game 1

The day kicked off at 1 p.m., and the Big Blue struck first. With Northeastern sophomore right-hander Aiven Cabral on the mound, ODU senior infielder Jake Ticer struck a grounder to the right side of the infield. Although it was an easy play for the Huskies, with Cabral tagging out Ticer at first base, it gave enough room for junior infielder Kyle Edwards to make it home from his stolen third base. 

The Huskies responded with a big rally at the top of the second. Junior Justin Bosland led Northeastern’s efforts with a rare series of events, scoring before the Huskies notched a single hit in the inning. In his turn at bat, Bosland was hit by a pitch, then stole both second and third before running home on a wild pitch. 

Sophomore outfielder Cam Maldonado and sophomore infielder Jack Goodman followed suit, each stealing a base and Goodman advancing on a wild pitch. However, this time, Northeastern got two hits to push them past the finish line, with Goodman and graduate student first baseman Tyler MacGregor tacking on RBIs. 

With Northeastern leading 3-1, ODU’s starting pitcher, junior right-hander John Holobetz, pulled himself back together, shutting down their opportunities through the last of his three innings. Holobetz struck out five Huskies swinging, tying his career high. He finished last season the second-leading ODU pitcher in strikeouts with 49.

Meanwhile, Cabral finished off his 4.1 innings with just one run scored against him. He started to waver at the bottom of the fifth, letting through two strong base hits, and was retired in favor of senior left-hander Will Jones, who pitched the remainder of the game.

However, Jones couldn’t silence the ODU runners. A series of defensive errors for the Huskies allowed the second- and third-base sitters through, tying the score 3-3. But ODU wasn’t done yet. While the Huskies were busy catching junior outfielder Luke Waters stealing, junior outfielder Steven Meier ran home to give the home team the lead. 

Northeastern tried to climb back with a score from sophomore catcher Matt Brinker at the top of the sixth, but the Big Blue turned in right back around in the bottom of the seventh with another three tallies. Waters and graduate student Hunter Cole added a couple stolen bases to the mix, but it was ODU’s base hits that shined in that stretch, with three singles and a double sending three men home despite two outs already against them. 

Down 7-4, Northeastern put forth a final rally in the top of the ninth, but graduate student Alex Lane was the only one who could get anything going. Lane’s solo homer capped off the scoring, leaving Huskies with a two-run loss. 

Game 2

Despite the loss in the first game of the doubleheader, the Huskies rallied back quickly in an error-free second game. 

It was a busy first inning, with six total scores, resulting in a 4-2 Huskies lead

Sophomore left-hander Dylan Brown started on the mound for ODU, and the Huskies worked well against him. The first three Northeastern batters loaded the bases on singles, and Lane’s double sent all of them home for an early lead. Then, after stealing third, Lane himself was sent home on a single from redshirt sophomore outfielder Harrison Feinberg. 

The Big Blue responded with two runs of their own, including another RBI and run from Waters, but couldn’t climb back up to match the Huskies’ four.

The next five innings were quiet. Northeastern put up two consecutive 1-2-3 innings, but were sparse on offense and couldn’t generate enough momentum to extend their lead.

Midway through the seventh inning, ODU retired senior right-handed pitcher Lincoln Ransom in favor of freshman left-hander Hutson Trobaugh, despite Ransom ceding no hits on 29 pitches. The move quickly proved to be a mistake. With sophomore center fielder Mike Sirota on third base, Bosland hit a single, scoring Sirota and putting Lane in scoring position. Goodman and Bosland both successfully stole bases, but Northeastern’s next two batters struck out, leaving them stranded on second and third.

Another 1-2-3 inning from Northeastern, including two strikeouts from Bowery, paved the way for the Huskies to start scoring again. 

With one out behind the Huskies, MacGregor was walked to first base, and Sirota’s double sent the senior home. Trobaugh walked another Northeastern batter, this time Lane, and while the infield was busy dealing with the junior after Feinberg’s hit, Sirota finished his trip around the bases to extend the Huskies’ lead 8-2.

A six-run deficit was far too much for the Big Blue to make up, but they found some hope in the bottom of the eighth. With runners on second and third, senior infielder Kenny Levari swung a double to put them both home. However, that was enough danger for Northeastern, and junior left-handed pitcher Jack Bowery was swapped out for junior right-hander Jack Beauschene to finish the game. Beauschene struck out the next two batters and his defense cleaned up the first to push the Huskies to the final inning. 

ODU made a few last-minute defensive changes to prevent the Huskies from any further scoring, but the Big Blue couldn’t create any chances themselves, and Northeastern ended with an 8-4 victory. 

Old Dominion leaned on a lengthy pitching rotation, cycling through ten throwers, while Northeastern sent out half that in the six-plus hours of gameplay. While this worked in ODU’s favor, as they led the Huskies 25-13 in strikeouts, their defense couldn’t seem to do the rest of the work. The two teams combined for 19 stolen bases through the two games. However, while Northeastern split their nine fairly evenly, the Big Blue decreased from eight to two game to game. 

Though Lane continued to lead the offensive efforts for the Huskies, with four RBI through the two games, Northeastern’s highly-anticipated returner Sirota finally seemed to find his stride after stumbling through the opening weeks of the season. The junior, who’s projected to be a top pick in the 2024 MLB draft, tallied three hits and three runs in the doubleheader, upping his batting average from .184 to .208. Another unlikely star for the Huskies was Goodman, who led Northeastern in hits with four. 

There’s still one more game to decide the series before the Huskies return to Boston to start their home season. The first pitch is set to fly Sunday at 1 p.m.