Jacob Oshinsky/WRBB Sports File

“Eight walks isn’t going to get it done, four wild pitches isn’t going to get it done, [five] stolen bases against us isn’t going to get it done,” head coach Mike Glavine said after Northeastern’s first home loss of the season Wednesday afternoon.

But that’s exactly what happened when the Huskies hosted Kansas State for their last matchup of the regular season against a Power 5 opponent. Despite struggling on the mound all day, Northeastern stretched what seemed like a runaway Wildcats victory to 11 innings, but nonetheless fell 9-8 — a difficult start to their seven-game homestand.

“You’re talking close to 18 free bases from the pitching staff,” Glavine said. “You can’t win games like that against anyone, let alone Kansas State.”

Northeastern rotated eight pitchers onto the mound through the game, digging much deeper into the bullpen than usual, but still were unable to find a consistent force against the Wildcats.

Starting pitcher Michael Gemma lasted the longest for the Huskies, throwing 72 pitches in his 2.2 innings of work, but letting Kansas State take a big leap out front with five runs.

Gemma just couldn’t put batters away. Facing two outs time and time again, the right-handed senior struggled to secure the third out, instead letting through two home runs and a two-RBI single.

After the second home run, Northeastern decided to switch things up on the mound. But at the top of the fifth, Gemma’s issues repeated themself with righty sophomore Charlie Walker. Walker threw two straight strikeouts, but just couldn’t secure the third, throwing three wild pitches and allowing two walks and a stolen base. Those difficulties added up quickly, and with two of those wild pitches letting runners tag home, Northeastern suddenly found themselves down 7-0. 

Meanwhile, nobody could see to figure out Kansas State’s starter Josh Wintroub except for leadoff hitter Luke Beckstein, a former Kansas State player himself. With singles in his first two at bats, Beckstein continued to drive up his seventh-in-the-nation on-base percentage, but the rest of the lineup couldn’t finish the job. 

“I was hoping we could feed off him a little more today,” Glavine said. “He rose to the occasion like he always does and for some reason, it took us way too long to get in this game today.”

At the top of the sixth, facing a new pitcher, graduate student left-hander J.J. Slack, Northeastern finally got on the board. Junior Jack Doyle hammered one over the left field wall, putting a minor dent in the Wildcats’ lead.

The Huskies still trailed by a wide margin, but some late-game fielding errors from the Wildcats put Northeastern in contention. In the seventh, Day, the second baseman for Kansas State, failed to make a catch in the outfield, letting Tyler MacGregor get into scoring position, Mike Sirota sent him home with a deep double inside the left field line. 

The Wildcats responded with another run at the top of the eighth, but Northeastern erased the six-run deficit through the next two innings in a last-ditch revival. The Huskies had thought it was all over, sending in a couple pinch hitters to finish the day, but when a corner-to-corner throwing error scored three runs for Northeastern and a Beckstein single put them within two, they felt hope once again. 

Then at the bottom of the ninth, with two outs against the Huskies, Kansas State should’ve been able to end the game. What should’ve been an easy catch, a fly ball into shallow right field, instead dropped between two converging fielders, scoring two runners on a single from Carmelo Musacchia to tie the game 8-8. 

For the extra innings, each team brought in a new pitcher to close it out — Jack Beauchesne for Northeastern and Jackson Wentworth for Kansas. Each put up a 1-2-3 10th inning, going stride-for-stride, but Beauchesne cracked first, letting through a sole run in the eleventh. 

Kalen Culpepper made the difference for the Wildcats, earning a single in the first at bat of the inning. Although the next two batters grounded out, Culpepper continued advancing, finally finding his moment to dash from third on a wild pitch to score the game-winning run. 

“I’m disappointed in a lot of things today,” Glavine said. “We did a nice job of battling back in that game, but we didn’t deserve to win the game, so we got what we deserved.”

Not only was the game Northeastern’s first home loss of the season, it was also the first time the Huskies had dropped back to back games, as they failed to earn a much-needed victory against a strong opponent. The loss brings the Huskies’ record to a 27-9, matching their conference percentage perfectly at .750, but there was arguably a bigger loss in the game as well. After driving through a single in the eighth, Doyle limped to first before exiting the game with a lower-body injury.

Doyle has come into his own this season, earning a consistent spot on the lineup as a formidable presence for the Huskies, and with a tough series weekend coming up against CAA leader UNCW, it will be crucial that the team remains healthy.

The Huskies will aim to recover from their back-to-back losses when they take the field against the Seahawks Friday at 2 p.m. Justin Diament, Max Schwartzberg, and Patrick O’Neal will have the call for the conference matchup on WRBB Sports+.