By Ethan Schroeder, news staff
On a five-game road trip, the Northeastern baseball team went 1-4 as the men struggled to piece together hits and strong pitching.
“Offensively, we just need to get some things going,” Head Coach Mike Glavine said in an interview courtesy of Northeastern baseball. “We have a tendency to get some runners on early, but not [throughout the game], so I’d really like to see the offense grind for nine innings and put some runs up on the board to help our pitchers out.”
The action began on Friday as the Huskies (11-20) traveled to North Carolina to take on the Elon University Phoenix. Senior pitcher Nick Berger took the mound for the away team, trying to replicate his most recent start, an eight-inning victory against the University of Delaware on March 27. Berger held strong for seven innings, but a late surge in hitting allowed Elon to escape with a 6-2 victory.
NU started the game off with two runs in their initial at bats. A double from sophomore third baseman Cam Hanley scored redshirt junior shortstop Michael Foster, with sophomore outfielder Pat Madigan scoring on a throwing error. Friday’s game was the 11th time this season the Huskies scored in the first inning.
Unfortunately for NU, Elon sophomore pitcher Matt Harris buckled down following the first-inning mishaps, allowing only five hits and no runs over his other seven innings of work. Berger matched Harris’ performance initially, holding the Phoenixes to two runs heading into the eighth inning.
With Harris and Berger trading off impressive frames deep into the game, it seemed that the matchup would be heading into extra innings deadlocked at 2-2. However, a mixture of a subpar eighth inning from Berger and a few well-timed hits from the Phoenixes created a mess for the Huskies. NU senior reliever Isaac Lippert’s first batter of the day, Elon senior first baseman Chris King, hit a grand slam. The four-run shot gave the home team the momentum it needed to close the game out in the ninth for the win.
The Huskies entered the series’ second game to avenge their slip-up the previous day. The team found retribution with eighth-inning action, breaking a 5-5 tie over the game’s final two innings to win 7-5 and create a rubber match.
Having scored only two runs in each of its last two games, NU runners needed to find a way on Saturday to improve the team’s record. This boost in offensive production came mostly from the bats of Madigan, redshirt junior designated hitter Rob Fonseca and freshman second baseman Maxell Burt. Each athlete managed a home run. Fonseca’s blast, a three-run shot in the fifth, gave the Huskies a 5-1 lead, their largest advantage of the game.
With their backs against the wall, Elon fought back with two runs in both the fifth and sixth innings. Consequently, NU sophomore starting pitcher Dustin Hunt was taken out after 5 innings with a no decision.
This time around, it was a combination of good pitching and hitting for NU that allowed Glavine’s squad to walk away with the victory. Sophomore reliever Aaron Civale pitched three innings of scoreless baseball, earning his third win of the season after an RBI single from Hanley, and Burt’s solo shot, sealed Elon’s fate.
“It was a tough game on Saturday,” Glavine said. “I thought we got some big hits from Madigan, obviously, and Fonseca. Civale was the story of the game, really. He came in and just pitched awesomely out of the bullpen and really carried us to that victory on Saturday.”
Junior pitcher James Mulry took the mound as NU’s starter on Sunday afternoon in the team’s final game against the Phoenixes. Only one inning later, Mulry was back on the bench, giving up six first-inning runs to Elon. The home team needed those six runs, as NU was unable to make up its lost ground, losing 6-3.
Mulry retired Elon’s leadoff batter, but failed to have similar success with the next four. By the time Mulry earned a strikeout to record the second out, the Phoenixes had one run scored and the bases loaded. A wild pitch put the score at 2-0, and Mulry’s fourth walk of the inning reloaded the bases. A base-clearing triple from senior shortstop Andy Moore blew the game wide open. By the second inning, Elon had scored six runs on only two hits.
The Phoenixes were shut out the rest of the game, but the Huskies could not muster up enough offensive production to make a comeback.
“We obviously had a really rough first inning, but I want to give the credit all to Lippert and Fitzgerald for really settling the game down,” Glavine said. “They went seven scoreless innings [and] did a great job there.”
The deficit was cut to four with RBI’s from Foster and freshman infielder Nolan Lang in the fourth inning. The Phoenixes shut things down from there, however, allowing only two hits and one run in the game’s five final innings. Madigan was able to get two of the team’s six total hits, extending his reached-base streak to 25 games.
On Tuesday, the Huskies made their way to Storrs, Conn. to face the University of Connecticut (UConn) Huskies. Led by sophomore starter Nate Borges, NU maintained a 1-1 tie into the seventh inning, but in a fashion similar to the weekend’s games, UConn had a late-game burst of run support.
Borges and UConn sophomore starter Andrew Zapata each limited their opposition to little production at the game’s beginning. NU broke through with an RBI fielder’s choice from sophomore catcher Joey Scambia in the third inning, but UConn quickly followed it up with a tying mark in the fourth. Borges managed to keep the Huskies in the game with only three earned runs on eight hits, but NU found its rhythm in the eighth and never looked back.
UConn’s six-run eighth inning was highlighted by a two-run single from senior right fielder Jon Testani. The Huskies managed two hits in the ninth, but their effort went unnoticed. UConn won 9-1.
The next day, NU traveled to nearby Chestnut Hill to avenge its 22-1 loss to Boston College (BC) earlier in the season. The Golden Eagles didn’t manage double-digit scores this time, but with a standout effort from senior right-hander Eric Stone, BC was able to improve to 15-16 on the season with a 4-1 victory.
The Eagles’ victory came as a result of a notable three-run fourth inning. NU starter Mulry was able to shut out the opposition in his three innings of work, but freshman reliever Brian Christian struggled with getting the ball over the plate. His four walks in the fourth spurred RBIs from three runs. Once again, the Huskies were unable to establish a rhythm at the plate. Madigan scored the lone run on a bases-loaded walk in the top of the fourth.
This weekend, the Huskies come back to Friedman Diamond for a three-game series with James Madison University (JMU).
“I’m looking forward to this weekend, being home against [JMU], a team that’s behind us in the standings and we want to keep it that way,” Glavine said. “We need our pitching, first and foremost, to solidify what we’re trying to do. We need big starts from Berger, Hunt and Mulry.”
Photo courtesy Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics