By Ethan Schroeder, news staff
The Northeastern baseball team’s seven-game losing streak was snapped with a three-game sweep of the University of Delaware this weekend. Two of the three games ended in walk-off hits for NU at Friedman Diamond.
The Huskies’ losses heading into Friday’s series opener dropped them to 7-14 on the season and 0-3 in the Colonial Athletic Association. The streak was highlighted by a 22-1 loss to Boston College in NU’s home opener on March 24. Despite the recent lack of wins, Head Coach Mike Glavine was confident that his team would turn things around against the Fightin’ Blue Hens. NU did just that and then some, starting with Friday’s extra-innings thriller.
NU senior pitcher Nick Berger and Delaware senior pitcher Adam Davis found themselves in a duel on Friday afternoon. Each team refused to budge defensively in a 2-2 stalemate until the bottom of the 13th inning, when a RBI single from freshman second baseman Maxwell Burt earned the Huskies their first conference victory of the season, 3-2.
The Blue Hens struck first in the opening frame of the game with an RBI single from senior outfielder Norm Donkin, but the Huskies quickly evened the score with an RBI single from Burt in the second.
Following their initial blunders, Berger and Davis found their rhythms. Berger retired 10 straight batters after giving up the game’s first run, while Davis held the Huskies scoreless from the second through eighth innings.
“Both starters were excellent,” Glavine said. “You definitely have to give [Davis] credit and Berger was awesome. As a senior and as a captain of this team, that’s exactly what we need him to do to keep us in games. Our team feeds off of performances like that.”
Delaware jumped ahead once again in the sixth inning to put the score at 2-1 with a sacrifice fly from redshirt freshman infielder Diaz Nardo. NU looked as though it would be unable to offer Berger any more run support, falling again into its recent hitting woes.
An eighth inning solo home run from redshirt junior first baseman Rob Fonseca gave the Huskies new life. Fonseca’s fourth home run of the season evened the score at 2-2, setting the stage for extra innings.
Following the eighth inning, the bullpen pitchers continued their duel, limiting both teams to scarce offensive productivity. Burt was also involved in the strong defensive showing as he made a diving catch over the right baseline wall in the 11th inning that elicited a loud cheer from fans in attendance.
“[Josh] Treff was screaming that I had room and I do better catching to my left, so I went for it,” Burt said. “Thank God the wall was soft, or I probably wouldn’t have my legs right now.”
As the matchup entered the 13th inning with the sun beginning to set, NU willed itself to victory. Burt’s single scored sophomore designated hitter Cam Hanley, sending the Huskies’ entire bench onto the field in celebration.
“That’s baseball right there,” Burt said. “I struck out at the plate four times before that, but luckily you get a lot of chances to redeem yourself in this sport.”
With Saturday’s game postponed due to snow, NU wrapped up the series against Delaware with a doubleheader on Sunday afternoon. A pair of five-run games allowed the Huskies to win games two and three with scores of 5-3 and 5-4, respectively.
NU picked up right where it left off on Saturday morning, loading the bases in the first inning. Hanley’s double-play groundout scored redshirt junior Treff to put the Huskies ahead early. They added two more runs off of sophomore outfielder Pat Madigan’s fourth inning home run and another off of a throwing error in the fifth to support sophomore starting pitcher Dustin Hunt with a 4-0 lead.
Hunt was pulled from the game in the sixth inning after surrendering hits that would eventually turn into three earned runs through RBI’s given up by sophomore reliever Aaron Civale. Despite the initial gaffe, Civale was able to get out of the inning with a one-run lead. An insurance run for the Huskies off of a wild pitch in the sixth solidified the final score, as NU escaped with the victory in a game limited to seven innings due to time constraints.
“Dustin started and pitched well, but he hit a pitch count so we went to Aaron,” Glavine said. “Civale wasn’t throwing his best stuff, but he battled and we made some plays. We’ve played a lot of tight games, so we were prepared and didn’t panic.”
The second matchup on Sunday proved to be as exciting as the opener. The ninth-inning rally gave the Huskies their second walk-off win in three games.
NU junior starting pitcher James Mulry looked to be in control of the Blue Hens’ offense in the game’s initial frames, allowing no hits until the third inning. In the third, Delaware broke out for the game’s first four runs on three hits and two errors. NU struck back with two runs in the following frame, highlighted by a triple from Fonseca. Lippert was able to regain his composure in the following inning and lasted until the sixth without allowing any more runs.
The game remained at 4-2 until the seventh inning, when an inside-the-park home run from Scambia cut the Blue Hens’ lead to one and jump-started the Huskies’ performance at the plate.
NU’s late-game heroics began with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. One strike away from the victory, Delaware’s senior reliever Luke Alicknavitch gave up a single to Burt who showed up in the clutch yet again. Following a walk and a single from the Huskies, Burt scored on a throwing error to tie to the game at 4-4. Delaware attempted to control the damage with an intentional walk to load the bases and create a force-out situation, but an RBI single from Hanley gave NU the series sweep.
“We caught a break to start things off and then we made the rest,” Glavine said. “I was really impressed with us taking advantage of their mistakes. You could sense that our guys believed that we were going to win once we got that first base runner on. The team feels when we’re in a tight ball game that we can win, and the mental side of things is important.”
NU played at home on Tuesday, falling to the University of Rhode Island 18-8. On Wednesday, the Huskies traveled to Rhode Island to face Bryant University. For the second day in a row, NU allowed 18 runs in route of an 18-2 loss.
The Huskies’ next three games are in North Carolina over the weekend.
Photo by Jordan Mejia Prieto
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