By Chris Judd, News Correspondent
Two weeks ago, the Northeastern baseball team had not been able to score and was second to last in the conference, and it wasn’t able to capitalize on good games from its standout pitchers due to struggles from behind the plate.
Since then, the Huskies have won eight of their last 10 games, only two of which have been within two runs. In that stretch, the Huskies have averaged around 5.5 runs per game. If losing three in a row with a 1-0 final to the College of William & Mary the weekend of March 22 frustrated the Husky offense, that frustration got the bats cracking.
This run has moved the Huskies up to fifth in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) with a 7-8 conference record. The Huskies secured wins against ninth-ranked Hofstra University and seventh-ranked James Madison University, but couldn’t climb higher in the standings due to the teams’ low rankings. And while those were undoubtedly important wins, they probably weren’t a good indicator of how well Northeastern will play when they have to take on University of North Carolina-Wilmington or University of Delaware, ranked first and second, respectively.
But the Huskies are showing a lot of promise, which could lead to wins against top teams. Leading the way is senior pitcher Kevin Ferguson, who has a 1.86 ERA. In 58 innings, he has allowed 48 hits and had 47 strikeouts. If those numbers continue to stay high, the Huskies will be winning a lot more games. The other pitcher in the Huskies’ rotation is sophomore Nick Berger with a 2.94 ERA. He has also allowed 48 hits in 52 innings and has 30 strikeouts. While his ERA is higher than Ferguson’s, the rest of their stats are similar and solid pitching is the first step toward a good chance of winning the game.
Unfortunately, the Northeastern relief corps isn’t quite as good as the starters are. Junior Matt Cook and freshman Brad McLean have the most appearances for the Huskies, but Cook’s ERA is above four while McLean’s sits at 3.71. Opponents are getting most of their runs while facing relief pitchers. Still, senior closer Dylan Maki has the most saves in the conference. His 1.71 ERA has helped the Huskies close out tough games.
Offensively, the team has been on fire. Four players have batting averages over .300 and one more is at .290. Connor Lyons has a .320 batting average and has 17 RBI this season. Jason Vosler leads the Huskies with 26 RBI for the season. If the offense can continue to get hits, and more importantly runs, they will be in good shape. Most of the Husky starters are playing well on offense, but it’s good to see them finally get results. Still, they have to continue to do that and follow up those hits with runs for any of that on-field success to transfer to the scoreboard.
Most importantly, the Huskies need to continue to score to take pressure off their pitching. Their pitching typically allows fewer than four runs a game, but if they relapse again they will be in a lot of trouble. Even the best defense needs some offensive support, and the Huskies have had games where they have allowed nine or more runs.
Although the Huskies are putting up decent numbers, they are very similar to the offensive numbers they were putting up before their five game skid.
Northeastern still has 12 conference games left to play. A lot of these are against the better teams in the conference. They have to continue playing well and the key to that success is still in their pitching. As impressive as the offense has been recently, the Huskies also have let up few runs. They can almost completely shut opponents down. The offense remains their biggest question mark despite recent success. They have shown the potential to score a lot of runs several times this season, but consistency is still the major question.
About halfway through the season, Northeastern is looking like they’re going to be a good team that could be a challenge in the CAA playoffs if they can maintain some consistency offensively. However, they have not played many top teams in the conference yet, which makes it tough to judge whether they can truly contend with the best, or if they have had an easy schedule but will collapse against greater competition. Their wins against lower tier teams have been resounding for the most part, so they should be able to at least compete against the best teams.