By Ethan Schroeder, news staff
Over spring break, the Northeastern men’s baseball team experienced a roller coaster of wins and losses, finishing the week with a 3-3 record.
The Huskies (7-9) began their spring break circuit on Saturday, March 7, stopping in New Britain, Conn. to take on Central Connecticut State and Brown universities.
In the first of the two games against Central Connecticut, NU played its first extra-innings game of the season. Senior pitcher Nick Berger set the tone with seven innings on the mound, and Huskies claimed victory in the 11th inning by a score of 5-3.
Berger squared off against the Blue Devils’ sophomore starter Matt Blandino in a pitcher’s duel. Blandino lasted seven innings as well, giving up three runs on five hits. Berger allowed three runs on seven hits. NU was on pace to win the game in regulation, taking a 3-1 lead in the eighth inning, but Central Connecticut struck back with two runs to tie it up and force the game into extra innings.
The deadlock was broken in the top of the 11th off of the bat of sophomore left fielder Joey Scambia. His two-run double down the right field line put the Huskies ahead, allowing sophomore reliever Aaron Civale to stifle the Blue Devils in their last at-bats and earn the victory.
“Our pitching is starting to turn a corner,” Head Coach Mike Glavine said. “Our pitchers know their roles. I really believe our best pitching is ahead of us. All it takes is a few minor adjustments now.”
The next day, NU faced Brown on Central Connecticut’s field. The Huskies managed six runs on 12 hits, but the Bears blew open the game with a nine-run fifth inning, going on to win the game 13-6.
The Huskies struck first with RBI hits from sophomore outfielder Pat Madigan and Scambia in the first inning, but their efforts proved to fall short. Brown took advantage of NU freshman reliever John Amendola for six hits and seven runs. From there, the Bears were able to buckle down and cruise to their first victory of the season. The game ended after eight innings due to darkness.
Reeling from the loss, NU bounced back on Monday to complete a sweep of Central Connecticut, riding a solid performance from junior pitcher James Mulry to earn a 5-2 victory.
Mulry allowed one run in six-plus innings of work, striking out six batters. Offensively, Madigan led the Huskies with RBI singles in the first and ninth innings. NU scored its five runs on only six recorded hits. Redshirt sophomore closer Mike Fitzgerald earned his second save of the season with two innings of relief work, giving the team momentum heading into the Big Five Baseball Bash.
NU started off its three games in the event on a particularly strong note, taking its first shutout of the season with a 7-0 victory over La Salle University in Philadelphia.
The game was stuck in a 0-0 draw until the fifth inning, when the Huskies broke out for six runs. The scoring was highlighted by redshirt junior first baseman Rob Fonseca’s three-run home run, his second of the season.
Berger contributed another impressive performance on the mound, allowing only two hits in seven innings. Berger also logged his 200th career strikeout. His performance last week earned him the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Co-Pitcher of the Week title.
“Nick is so important to our team,” Glavine said. “Not only is he a great competitor, but he is also a great leader. It was a scoreless ballgame for five innings and his pitching gave us the confidence to finally break through with run support. He’s been around me for four years now, so he knows when to step in and take control of the game.”
Day two of the event went poorly for the Huskies. Unable to string together a third consecutive victory, NU fell to the bats of Wagner College by a score of 9-3.
NU was able to sprinkle runs in during the second, fourth and eighth innings, but the Seahawks’ hitting was better. Wagner managed five runs on 10 hits off of Husky sophomore pitcher Dustin Hunt. Civale came in for relief of Hunt and fared no differently, allowing three runs.
Wagner’s first four batters accounted for 12 of the team’s 16 hits. The Seahawks’ senior catcher, Nick Dini, went 4-4 on the day with three RBIs.
“The talent is there for our team but we just need to put the pieces together,” Glavine said. “Once we can get our pitching and hitting down in the same game consistently, we’ll start to hit our stride.”
In the team’s final game of the event, NU fell to Saint Joseph’s University 2-0 despite yet another strong pitching performance from James Mulry.
Mulry allowed only one earned run on five innings pitched with a season-high 12 strikeouts, but due to a strong defensive performance from the Seahawks, one run was enough to seal their fate. The Huskies managed a disappointing three hits over the course of the game.
“We need to adjust our hitting a little bit to work the middle of the field more,” Glavine said. “Nine guys have to show up in order for us to win games.”
With four weeks now under their belts, the Huskies look forward to their first CAA series this weekend against the University of North Carolina Wilmington. The Seahawks are currently 12-5.
“Naturally, the players are going to head into conference games with a little more intensity and a little more adrenaline,” Glavine said. “In our eyes, we’re heading into Wilmington with a clean 0-0 [conference record]. I’m expecting us to raise our game.”
Photo courtesy Northeastern Athletics, Omar Rouhana