Jacob Oshinsky/WRBB Sports File

Somehow, someway, we’ve made it to the midway point of the Northeastern baseball season.

The Huskies orchestrated a three-game sweep of CAA rival Monmouth this past weekend, with the exclamation point being a 7-2 win on Easter Sunday to extend their winning streak to seven games and cap off an 18-4 March.

It was Northeastern’s first sweep of the season, and they now hold a 21-6 (5-1 CAA) record on the year. While bringing out the brooms against the 7-15 Hawks may not be a massive needle-mover, each win highlighted the different strengths that this team has and provided a pleasant endnote to a successful month. 

“We had to really play under pressure, so just really happy with the whole weekend,” said head coach Mike Glavine after Sunday’s victory. 

Northeastern won each of their five series in March and scored more than 10 runs in just under half their games. Perhaps most impressively, they won all seven of their midweek games. That is an absolutely stellar level of consistency.

Overall, things are going very well for the Huskies. But this season has not been without its issues. Their pitching staff is allowing more than a full run more per game than they were at this point of the season last year — 5.22 compared to 4.03 — and key offensive contributors from last season like Cam Maldonado and Carmelo Musacchia have struggled in the first half. 

But they are still winning games: Their 21 overall victories are the most in the CAA and just one behind where they were entering the second half in 2023. Next up for Northeastern is a date at home against UMass in the first round of the Baseball Beanpot on Tuesday, and then a trip to Towson for a CAA weekend series.

With a huge week on deck, let’s take a look at the first half of Northeastern’s season. What’s been going right, what’s been going wrong, and how do the Huskies stack up against UMass with beans on the menu?

Northeastern has been searching for rotation consistency all year, and may have just found it.

One of the linchpins of Northeastern’s success last year was that they knew who would be toeing the rubber for every weekend series. It was Wyatt Scotti, Eric Yost, and Aiven Cabral. Always. 

With Yost’s departure, there was a hole in that third starter spot entering this season. Glavine opted to start with junior flamethrower Dennis Colleran in that role, but he struggled to a 11.10 ERA in three starts and was moved to the bullpen. There was also a mixed bag of long relievers who filled in like senior WIll Jones and grad transfer Cooper McGrath, but nothing stuck.

In all five of Northeastern’s three-game series before this weekend, no pair of pitchers had spun back-to-back quality starts. But that all changed against Monmouth, when Scotti, Cabral, and Jake Gigliotti each pitched six innings and allowed a combined five earned runs. Those were the first three quality starts for NU all season. 

“I’m certainly happy with Scotti, he’s not going anywhere, Aiven looks really good too, and so does [Gigliotti],” said Glavine. “This was our best weekend for starting pitching from an innings perspective, it’s the most we’ve had all year which was great to see. We’re trending up.”

This rotation consistency not only gives Northeastern the best chance to win every weekend series, it also had a trickle-down effect on the entire bullpen. Junior lefty Jack Bowery, who has a strong 2.96 ERA in 24.1 innings, can be used as a swingman reliever or to start midweeks. The same can be said about Jones and McGrath, who have both thrown solid innings out of the pen this year.

Jack Beauchesne has also settled into his role as a high-leverage reliever in the late innings after slamming the door against Monmouth on Sunday. He’s allowed just one run all year while striking out 15 over 12.1 innings.

As Scotti, Cabral, and Gigliotti round into form, so will the entirety of Northeastern’s pitching staff. As the season goes on and the Huskies get into a playoff mindset, those three arms will be key building blocks for a deep tournament run. 

The Huskies are not over-reliant on the longball

At this point in the season last year, Northeastern had hit 46 home runs and had long since smashed the total of 27 they had the year before. In 2024, the Huskies have a more subdued count of 33 big flies, which is good for fourth in the CAA.

However, they are still finding ways to win even in games when the ball isn’t clearing the fence. Northeastern is 7-3 in the ten games this season when not hitting a homer, and 14-3 when they do. 

Take the final two wins over Monmouth this weekend, where Northeastern crossed the plate 14 times despite not hitting any home runs. On Saturday, a Tyler McGregor double, a couple of fielder’s choice RBIs, and a sac fly staked the Huskies to a 3-1 lead which they would not relinquish. On Sunday, a sixth-inning Luke Beckstein sac bunt and a clutch two-out RBI single in the 8th provided enough breathing room to ensure victory.

“I think our process the last three days from an offensive standpoint has been the best it’s been all year long,” noted Glavine. “We’ve worked hard on trying to get runners in from third because that’s just a huge momentum swing when you don’t do it… and then our speed, I think it might be the best I’ve seen.”

Northeastern clearly has the talent and lineup to smash the ball out of the park, but this weekend proved that their fundamentals are sharp enough too. They can win in multiple different ways, and they don’t need to hit multiple homers to do it. 

Alex Lane has activated another level

It’s impossible to talk about Northeastern’s first half without heaping praise on Lane. His counting stats are through the roof (15 homers, 1.351 OPS, 46 RBI), but what has been most impressive is his consistency. He is currently riding a 13-game hitting streak since the middle of March and has just one game without a hit this year. One. That is just absurd.

He’s also been on base in every single game he’s played in, and has driven in 14 runs in his past six games. Simply put, he is a top-2 player in the CAA right now.

The key operational difference for Lane is that his plate discipline has improved markedly since last season: he only has 17 strikeouts to 22 walks after totaling 54 strikeouts and just 29 walks all of last year. That improved vision at the plate has led to longer counts and better pitches to hit, and he is taking advantage of that in a big way. 

Lane was always a looming power threat in the cleanup spot since he transferred to Northeastern last season, but this year he has taken the leap into being a well-rounded superstar, both on the team and in the CAA. 

It’s time to make a run for the Beanpot

For some reason, despite all their success over the past few years, Northeastern has recently been oddly snakebitten in the Beanpot. Last season, they lost in heartbreaking fashion in the first round to a Harvard team they had no right to lose against. And in 2022, it was an opening round 4-2 loss to BC that dashed their hopes of a championship. 

“We’ve been struggling in this thing, obviously it’s good teams that we’re playing but I feel like we’ve left some opportunities on the table,” said Glavine. “We want to win this thing, it’s one of our goals. It’s been frustrating, our performances in those games.”

The Huskies haven’t played in the final round of the tournament since 2018 and haven’t won since 2013. But that all changes this year.

Or so they hope.

Northeastern’s draw in the opening round this year is UMass Amherst, who they trounced 18-11 in the 2023 consolation game. They will host the Minutemen at Friedman Diamond.

UMass has started their season 8-14 and 1-2 in the Atlantic 10 after being picked to finish second-to-last in the preseason coaches poll. Despite the disappointing record, they are averaging a respectable six runs scored per game. However, they did just drop two of three to VCU this past weekend and got outscored 17-11.

The Minutemen don’t boast a strong or reliable pitching staff, with only three pitchers that have a sub-4.00 ERA and no starters with an ERA under 5.00. It’s tricky to predict who will start on  Tuesday, but first-year Andrew Middleton started their last Tuesday game on March 19 and has yet to allow an earned run in three appearances.

For Northeastern,  expect some combination of Michael Gemma, Cooper McGrath, and Charlie Walker to handle the bulk of the innings. The Huskies only used nine total pitchers across three games against Monmouth, so the bullpen is relatively fresh.

When these two clashed last year, it was then-freshman Cam Maldonado playing hero with his first career cycle, going 5-6 with six RBI and three runs scored. Perhaps another date with the Minutemen and their questionable pitching could help cure some of his struggles this season. 

Offensively, UMass is led by a few power hitters in Mike Gervasi and Carter Hanson, who have seven and four home runs respectively. And Matt Travisano has the ninth-best batting average in the A10 at .368.

Across the four teams in this tournament field, Northeastern is clearly the strongest on paper. But to make it to the final and win the whole thing, they need to do what they haven’t been able to do for over a decade- take care of business.

WRBB will have live coverage of the first round of the baseball Beanpot live from Friedman Diamond starting at 2:30 PM. Luke Graham and Amelia Ballingall have the call.