Jackson Goodman/WRBB Sports File

The 2023 season was the latest chapter in what’s been something of a golden era for Northeastern baseball. Continuing to build on five straight winning seasons, the young Huskies went 44-16, taking the country by surprise and notching quality wins against teams like Indiana St, Duke, Boston College, UConn, and Maryland.

After going 15 years between College World Series appearances, 2023 marked the third time in five seasons that Northeastern reached the round of 64. For the second straight year, though, the Huskies fell just a solitary run short of a CAA title. After falling to Hofstra in the 2022 championship game, they faced a similar fate in 2023. UNC Wilmington played the villain this time, spoiling Northeastern’s title hopes and holding on for a 5-4 victory.

There is, then, a definitive goal for the 2024 Northeastern Huskies: win a conference championship. It’s possible – the 2021 team broke the ice by winning Northeastern’s first-ever CAA championship, and both Baseball America and D1 Baseball ranked the Huskies inside their preseason top-25 for the first time ever. 

The Huskies sit at 8-4 after rounding out a near month-long road trip with a weekend series at Old Dominion. As both CAA play and Northeastern’s home opener slide into view, let’s take a glance at the old guard, the new guard, and what we can expect from this season.

Pitching Staff

The Huskies’ 2023 success was due in large part to their pitching – Northeastern had five different pitchers each record six or more wins, and had eight pitchers hurl at least 20 innings. They held opponents to just 4.3 runs per game, tied for fifth amongst D1 schools. For context, that mark was half a run better than eventual champion LSU.

The Returners

The 2024 Huskies return three out of their four most-used pitchers: sophomore Aiden Cabral, senior Wyatt Scotti, and redshirt senior Jake Gigliotti are all back at Friedman Diamond a year after combining to start 39 games. 

Cabral in particular was sensational, pitching to a 2.58 ERA over 83.2 innings as a standout freshman. The right-hander struck out 69 batters over 19 appearances, and threw Northeastern’s only complete-game shutout of the season. Cabral closed out his outstanding season by being named to the NCBWA All-Freshman team as well as the All-CAA first team.

Scotti returns after a junior campaign that saw him make a second consecutive All-CAA second team. He started 15 games, ending with a 6-4 record; the senior was also one of Northeastern’s most consistent pitchers, yielding four or more earned runs just three times. 

2023 was a year of records for Gigliotti, who set personal bests in appearances, innings, saves, wins, and strikeouts. He appeared in 23 games, started eight, and finished with a sparkling 8-0 record. The Huskies went 19-4 in games he appeared in, and he was named to the All-CAA second team.

Elsewhere on the staff, the Huskies will return key relief arms in Brett Dunham, Jack Beauschesne, James Quinlivan, and Charlie Walker. The four combined to pitch 66 innings in 2023, and all of them but Beauschesne posted ERAs south of 4. Walker especially had an encouraging campaign; the freshman allowed just one earned run over 10 innings, striking out 18 hitters in the process. He did suffer a season-ending injury, though, so whether he can carry over his rookie success into this year is something of a question mark.

The Departures

While a good chunk of the 2023 staff is back to see out the 2024 season, there were a few notable departures. The exodus included junior starter Eric Yost to the MLB Draft, and important relievers Griffin Young, Patrick Harrington, and Nick Davis to graduation. Matt Downing, Jordy Allard, and Craig Ottaviano also will not return in 2024..

Yost is easily the most notable loss; the right-hander made 54 appearances over three years with Northeastern, including 25 starts. He compiled a career 3.61 ERA over 162 innings, and was named to a Rawlings All-Region second team after his standout 2022 campaign, in which he finished third in the CAA in ERA. Yost’s 2023 wasn’t quite as superb, but he started 15 games, pitching to a 4.23 ERA and a 6-1 record. His excellent collegiate career earned him a 17th-round selection by the San Diego Padres in the 2023 MLB Draft, and his exit leaves something of a hole in the Husky rotation.

You could make the case that Griffin Young was Northeastern’s most reliable pitcher of 2023. After transferring over from Wheaton College, Young was easily the top reliever for the Huskies, appearing in a team-high 25 games and leading both team and conference with 10 saves. Young pitched to a tremendous 2.63 ERA, and he leaves a significant void in the bullpen.

Harrington’s one season with Northeastern wasn’t quite as dominant, but he nonetheless played an important role in the 2023 season. After transferring from Assumption College, the right-hander threw 42 innings over 22 appearances pitching in something of a middle-relief role.

His 4.50 ERA was solid enough for a reliever, and his 6-0 record showcased his excellence when pitching in close games.

Davis pitched two full years with the Huskies, compiling 54 innings over 40 appearances. The senior struggled at times, pitching to a 5.67 ERA in 2022 and a 5.04 in 2023, but still earned enough trust from head coach Mike Glavine to hold down a consistent role. 

Northeastern also lost relievers Matt Downing and Jordy Allard, as well as unused righty Craig Ottaviano. Both Downing and Allard were little-used relievers in 2023, combining for just 15.1 innings; Ottaviano saw no playing time and did not appear on the 2024 roster.

The Arrivals

Mike Glavine wasted no time replenishing his depleted staff; the 2024 team brought in 10 pitchers, including four grad transfers. Aidan Tucker and Brendan McFall came over from Tufts, while Jack Bowery and Cooper McGrath transferred from Marist and Trinity, respectively. Six freshmen round out the incoming pitchers.

Tucker comes over having pitched three years at Tufts, sporting a career 3.27 ERA and a spotless 11-0 record. The big right-hander can be counted on to play something of a hybrid role this season, mostly appearing out of the bullpen but making the occasional spot start.

McFall joins Tucker for a crosstown move, also arriving from Tufts for his graduate season. His three years with the Jumbos were a bit up-and-down, but he finished strong in 2023, posting a 2.13 ERA in 25.1 innings out of the bullpen. The right-hander’s role at Northeastern is up in the air, though; expect him to log the occasional inning out of the bullpen.

Bowery makes his way over from Marist for his junior campaign. His numbers at Marist were poor, firing to a 7.05 ERA over two seasons, but the Huskies seem to have some belief that there’s untapped potential in the left-hander. Much like Tucker, he’ll likely be used in a hybrid role; he’s started in 13 of 32 career appearances.

McGrath’s arrival from Trinity is a source of intrigue; standing at 6’7”, the right-hander is an imposing presence on the mound. What exactly he’ll provide is uncertain — he started 4 games in 2022, pitching to a 5.68 ERA, but appeared only in relief in 2023, slashing his ERA to 3.38. 

Projecting freshmen is often a fickle exercise, but this class offers quite a bit of promise both for the present and the future. Right-hander Jack Cropper enters as the No. 1 ranked pitcher for his class in Massachusetts, while fellow right-hander Owen Roy joins as the No. 1 ranked pitcher in New Hampshire. Nick Coniglio and Alex Lanzillotti are also among the freshman righties, while left-handers David McSweeney and Max Marchetti round out the class. 

How much Cropper and Roy (or any of the freshmen!) will contribute this year is hard to project, but at least one or two carving out a role akin to Charlie Walker’s seems likely. 

Look for Glavine to slowly integrate these guys into games as the season goes along, but it wouldn’t be entirely surprising if they ultimately combine to pitch ten or fewer innings. None of them have pitched thus far this season.

Position Players

The Huskies’ 2023 lineup wasn’t quite as dominant as their pitching staff, but was tremendous nonetheless. Northeastern paced the CAA in runs scored, and they hit 104 home runs, 32 more than the CAA’s next-best in Delaware. On the flip side of things, they were generally good fielders as well, finishing first in the CAA in fielding percentage and second-to-last in the CAA in errors. Fielding statistics can be subjective and misleading, but the Huskies were the only team in the conference to finish top-5 in runs scored, runs allowed, and fielding percentage; not only did they finish top-5, they finished first in each category.

The Returners

Northeastern returns all but two of their top 11 batsmen from 2023. Stars including junior outfielder Mike Sirota, graduate first baseman Tyler MacGregor, graduate utility man Alex Lane, and sophomore Cam Maldonado are back in the fold, as well as the vast majority of contributors up and down the lineup.

Sirota is the gem of the bunch; the outfielder returns a year after pacing the Huskies in home runs, slugging percentage, OPS, and walks. It’s hard to put into words just how dominant Sirota’s 2023 campaign was – despite missing five games, his 2023 season saw him break Northeastern’s single-season runs scored (73) and total bases (145) records, as well as top-6 finishes in home runs, RBI, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage.  Sirota’s spectacular season was aptly honored with a Rawlings All-American Third Team selection, as well as being named to the All-CAA First Team. Whether he can recapture the entirety of his 2023 brilliance this season remains to be seen, but as long as he’s healthy, he’ll be the first name on Glavine’s lineup card.

MacGregor may not have had quite the year Sirota did, but his campaign was fantastic nonetheless. The left-hitting first baseman transferred from Columbia before the 2023 season, and matched Sirota’s team-leading 18 home runs in his first campaign as a Husky. He appeared in 55 games, placing second on the team in total bases and third in slugging percentage. His performance earned him a spot on the All-CAA Second Team, and he’ll play first base daily for this year’s team.

Lane makes up the third piece of the returning four-headed monster. After transferring from Bryant before the season, the right-hander mostly filled the DH spot in 2023, compiling excellent all-around numbers including a team-leading 58 RBI, .318 batting average, and a 1.023 OPS. Appearing in all but one game, he finished third on the team with 223 at-bats. His 16 home runs were good for fourth in the CAA, and he was recognized with an All-CAA First Team selection. He’ll again be the Huskies’ everyday DH in 2024.

Maldonado is the youngest member of this foursome, instantly making his presence felt in 2023 as a freshman sensation. The outfielder broke into the starting lineup in the third game of the season and never looked back, leading the Huskies in batting average (.353). He also led his team and conference in stolen bases (31) and smashed the school record for home runs by a rookie with 13. 

Many of the lineup’s other regulars stuck around as well. Luke Beckstein, Gregory Bozzo, Harrison Feinberg, Carmelo Musachhia, and Jimmy Sullivan are all amongst the returners; all of those listed appeared in at least 30 games for the Huskies in 2023, with Feinberg, Beckstein, and Bozzo all appearing in at least 45. Feinberg is the most notable of the bunch statistically, compiling 10 home runs and a .916 OPS over 45 games, but all of these players figure to play sizable roles in 2024. 

The Departures

The majority of the Huskies’ lineup returns for 2024, but they’re not without their fair share of exits. The big ones are team hits leader and star utility man Danny Crossen, as well as 2023 CAA Defensive Player of the Year Spenser Smith. Both are gone due to graduation, and four other lesser-used players either transferred or left the program. 

Crossen’s absence will be felt the most; the utility man left his fingerprints all over the program during his five years with the program. Crossen was always impactful on both sides of the ball, playing all over the field defensively and hitting .303 for his career, but his magnum opus came in 2023. The right-hander’s 2023 season saw him start 59 games, finishing with a .346 average and a career-best 10 home runs; he also set school records for the most hits in a season (84) and the longest streak of games reaching base (60, spanning the 22-23 seasons). For his efforts, he was named to the All-CAA Second Team for the second time in his career. Crossen was a terrific mainstay in the Husky lineup for close to three years, and his graduation leaves a gaping hole.

Smith is another five-year Husky, who appeared in at least 20 games in every non-COVID season of his career. The infielder was never a superstar hitter – he hit between .235 and .245 every year, and finished with just five career home runs – but his contributions in the field and on the basepaths were invaluable. Smith appeared 187 times over his Northeastern career, starting 184 of those games, and his defensive prowess was honored when he was named the 2023 CAA Defensive Player of the Year. 

The other four departing hitters are Jack Thorbahn, Sean McGee, Ed Jarvis, and Luke Masiuk. Three of those four transferred, and Jarvis’s status is uncertain. Out of the four, Thorbahn was the most influential performer, appearing in 24 games (starting 10) and notching an .870 OPS. The other three were mostly used as defensive replacements, and rarely saw much playing time.

The Arrivals

With just six outgoing hitters, Northeastern only had room for five newcomers. Infielder Jack Goodman arrives as a sophomore transfer by way of Pepperdine, while Matt Thorsen, Ryan Gerety, Nate Lam, and Chris Walsh join as freshmen. 

Goodman makes his way to Northeastern from Pepperdine; the move allows the Medfield native a chance to play closer to home and attend his father’s alma mater. His freshman season at Pepperdine wasn’t much to write home about – he hit just .192, and made four errors in the field. However, he’s only two years removed from being named Boston Globe Player of the Year as a high school senior, and MLB scouts for the Texas Rangers liked his potential enough to make him a 15th round selection in 2022. Northeastern seems to feel similarly about his future, bringing him in as their only non-pitcher transfer, and Goodman will have every opportunity to compete for a big role.

Again, projecting freshmen is generally a pointless task, but we’ll likely be able to see a glimpse of what these four can do at some point this year. Three of them (Thorsen, Gerety, and Lam) are outfielders, and Walsh enters as an infielder. If they do make appearances, they’ll likely be few and far between; this year’s team is far too good, experienced, and ambitious for freshman hitters to consistently break into the lineup. Only Gerety has featured so far, making his lone appearance vs. Arizona. 

Realities, Expectations, and Dreams

At the time of publishing, the 2024 Huskies are off and running to an 8-4 start, with the home opener at Friedman less than 24 hours away. 

Twelve baseball games is a tiny sample size, but it’s worth mentioning that Northeastern’s pitching has not lived up to last year’s standards thus far. After pitching to a collective 3.75 ERA in 2023, this year’s staff is tracking at a 5.45. The 2024 team is walking more hitters, allowing a higher opponent batting average, and is recording fewer strikeouts than their 2023 counterpart. Aiven Cabral and Charlie Walker in particular have been concerning, each posting ERAs over 11.25 through 12.1 combined innings.

I wouldn’t sound the alarms just yet, though. The 2023 team started similarly, allowing seven or more runs in six of their first nine games before ultimately settling into their groove. Northeastern has played a tough opening schedule, and there’s not much reason to believe these pitchers have actually regressed; it’s much more likely that top pitchers such as Cabral and Walker are just hitting some early-season struggles before finding their groove. The pitching is something to keep an eye on, yes, but it’s much more likely they return to form than continue at this clip.

The offensive numbers are down just a tad, but Sirota (.231 average) and Maldonado (.103) are mired in early-season slumps that history tells us they should break out of. The team as a whole has managed just four home runs in 12 games; this rate is also certain to improve. If anything, the offense being as solid as it’s been while two of its key members scuffle is indicative that the unit can, and will, improve.

The 2024 Huskies are the first iteration in school history that began the season ranked in the top 25. When you return all but six notables from a 44-16 team who came within a run of a CAA crown, the ingredients, and the expectations, are there. They’ve got it all: top-end talent, experience, and the lasting sour taste of consecutive postseason heartbreaks. 

All of this is to say that the sky’s the limit. It’s not hard to picture this team hoisting a CAA trophy; the pieces are there. It’s nowhere near a guarantee – nothing in baseball ever is, but this iteration of Northeastern baseball has a chance to simultaneously avenge the past and set the scene for the future.