Jacob Oshinsky/WRBB Sports File

With the benefit of hindsight, Northeastern coach Mike Glavine has a confession: He should have recruited Tyler MacGregor and Alex Lane more seriously as high schoolers.

Back in 2017, MacGregor and Lane were star teammates at St. John’s Prep, a perennial Massachusetts powerhouse located just 35 minutes from Northeastern’s campus. And both were on the Huskies’ radar. 

MacGregor attended Northeastern’s summer training camp ahead of both his sophomore and junior years, and while Glavine was intrigued, he never extended an offer. MacGregor subsequently committed to Columbia University. Likewise, Northeastern was patient with evaluating Lane, given he had just one varsity high school season under his belt — only for Bryant University to swoop in and secure Lane’s early commitment as a sophomore.

“Sometimes, I’m probably a little slower on the draw when it comes to some recruiting. I want to see kids play a bunch,” Glavine said. “I definitely wish I was more aggressive with both of them out of high school. But I’m just really lucky to have them now.”

Years later, MacGregor and Lane’s paths converged as transfers at the school they once left behind. Now in their respective second seasons at Northeastern, the left fielder Lane (.415 Avg./1.234 OPS) and first baseman MacGregor (.403 Avg./1.187 OPS) are on pace for two of the best hitting seasons in program history. 

Their presence as the No. 2 and No. 3 hitters in the Huskies’ lineup — identical to their spots in the high school batting order — has been a driving force behind Northeastern’s 27-9 record and No. 36 national RPI ranking, putting a CAA title and second-straight trip to the NCAA tournament within reach.

“It’s just kind of surreal,” Lane said. “We never really knew that each other would end up coming here. It just happened at the same time. And it’s awesome to hit behind [MacGregor] again and be back playing together on another team that’s winning.”

Since MacGregor is one year older, he and Lane only hit in the same lineup at St. John’s Prep for two seasons. In their final high school year together in 2018, the team advanced to the state title game, with MacGregor batting .330 with 23 runs scored, and Lane batting .414 with 19 RBIs.

While both players’ physical stature immediately jump out — Lane is listed at 6’5, 210, and MacGregor at 6’2, 220 — their coach at St. John’s Prep, Dan Latarte, said their vastly different demeanors complimented each other and the team well. 

“Alex was 6’3 when he came in as a freshman. He was always a big, aggressive, tough kid,” Letarte said. “Tyler was always like that nice boy on the block. But once you get him in a competitive situation, man, whatever it is — if we played Manhunt, Monopoly, or Pictionary, he’s going to find a way to win.” 

Each committed to their respective colleges in 2017, shortly after wrapping up their high school season. While MacGregor was ultimately lured to Columbia by the prospect of an Ivy League education, he maintains that had an offer arrived from Northeastern, things may have turned out differently. 

“When I was in high school, this was probably one of my top choices,” MacGregor said. “I really wanted to play for Northeastern…there’s a lot of different things that could have happened, but yeah, probably I would have committed here [had I been offered].”

Likewise, Northeastern was on Lane’s radar, but Bryant was the only school to offer him a scholarship as a sophomore. He committed to play catcher, his high school position, soon after touring and meeting with the Bryant staff.

“It all kind of happened very early for me with Bryant,” Lane said. “I mean, I’d been in contact with Northeastern and I would have come here and visited, but it was pretty much locked up by that point.”

After both players’ initial college years were plagued with injuries and COVID-19 shutdowns, each delivered prolific 2022 seasons to put themselves on the radar of higher-level programs. Both entered the transfer portal with two years of eligibility remaining, and this time around, they were Glavine’s top two targets.

“We’ve been really successful with players we had already recruited in the past like Alex and Tyler,” Glavine said. “In the offseason, we have our transfer portal list and we rank the guys who we want to bring in, and those two guys were at the very top of our list. We just immediately tried to contact them and get them re-engaged with us.”

Particularly with the rising influence of the transfer portal in college athletics, Glavine said the relationships built while recruiting are critical for both players and coaches — regardless of the recruitment’s end result. 

“Very rarely does one of these recruiting stories end in a bad way, where you didn’t choose Northeastern and it’s bad blood, or maybe we didn’t choose you and we picked another kid and made a mistake,” Glavine said. “If we handle the recruiting process professionally, and in the right manner with the kid and the family…I’d still hope Northeastern is a school they want to consider again [as a transfer].” 

Both MacGregor and Lane said they had a handful of suitors in the portal, but the coaching staff is what sold them most on Northeastern. 

“I had a couple other schools that I was looking at, but I came [to Northeastern] for a visit right after our season ended and Coach Glavine showed me around and I just really fell in love with it,” MacGregor said. “I could see myself playing for Coach Glavine because he’s an awesome leader, and just the winning culture that’s been built here.”

Both players excelled in their first season at Northeastern in 2023, with Lane batting .318 with 16 home runs and 58 RBIs, and MacGregor batting .332 with 18 home runs and 54 RBIs. Both then opted for their final year of eligibility — MacGregor’s sixth due to both a medical redshirt and the additional COVID year, and Lane’s fifth due also to the COVID year. 

“To have two extra years of baseball with a fresh start at a different school after COVID, I think it’s just been so much fun for them,” Latarte said. “You can’t say that COVID was good, but you can certainly say that it opened up options for both of them.”

This season, Lane and MacGregor are Northeastern’s only two position players to have started every game, and they hold the team’s top two spots in a host of stats: average, hits, home runs, RBIs, runs, and slugging. 

As both have powered Northeastern’s lineup in their final college season, Glavine hopes they have done enough to prove their baseball careers should continue professionally as well. 

“They had monster years last year, and then [they are] backing it up again this year,” Glavine said. “They are certainly two guys that I 100% believe should be playing beyond Northeastern after this year. So hopefully they get that chance.”