By Joe Barbito, news staff

The Northeastern University (NU) baseball team’s first Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) series wrapped up on Sunday, with NU losing two out of three games to the James Madison University (JMU) Dukes.

NU opened up conference play in Harrisonburg, Va. at Veterans Memorial Park with a 19-inning marathon on Friday. The dogs and Dukes were tied at six after nine frames, and neither team was able to score for another 10 innings. JMU hit a walk-off double in the 19th, nearly six hours after the first pitch.

Junior Aaron Civale was on the mound for seven innings for the Huskies, allowing four runs and striking out 10 batters. This was his third-consecutive start with a double-digit strikeout total. The lead changed hands multiple times, including an eighth-inning tie broken up by sophomore Max Burt’s two-run homer. This was quickly negated by a series of wild pitches in the bottom of the eighth, which scored a duo of JMU baserunners. The 7-6 final ended one of the longest games in NU baseball history.

Senior left-hander James Mulry started in the middle game of the series. Things did not go so well for Mulry, who was tagged with his team-high fifth loss of the season as the Huskies fell 6-4. Allowing six runs over 6 1-3 innings pitched, Mulry lacked control to keep the Huskies in the game. His seven walks also pushed him to 18 on the season, eight walks higher than any other pitcher on the team.

“He’s had a lot of bad luck,” head coach Mike Glavine said of Mulry’s recent performance. “In the series against Buffalo, the team didn’t play well behind him – we had errors, the dropped fly ball, missed throws, but he has trouble with control. You cannot defend a walk.”

Senior second baseman Keith Kelly went 2-5 on the day on two solo home runs. Burt continued his success by going 3-3 with a double. Despite numerous scenarios where the Huskies put runners in scoring position, they could not muster a hit to give themselves runs.

Earning their first CAA victory of the season, NU demolished JMU by a score of 20-5 on March 27. Three Huskies hit longballs: Junior Shane Allen, sophomore Zach Perry and junior Pat Madigan. Madigan’s home run was a grand slam in the fifth inning, with eight runs scored total in the frame. Burt continued his hot weekend, going 4-6 with another double.

Burt’s batting average rose from .186 entering the weekend to .263 after Sunday. Glavine said Burt is a very intense player who is very tough on himself.

“It was good for him to finally relax at the plate and not put pressure on himself,” Glavine said. “He’s outstanding defensively and just needs to try not to do too much.”

Junior Dustin Hunt managed five innings on the mound, allowing three runs and fanning seven batters.

Returning to Friedman Diamond on Tuesday, NU faced the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Minutemen for a one-off matchup. With winds gusting in the 30-mile-per-hour range, both teams had trouble getting their offenses moving. The 3-2 final favoring UMass featured no scoring after the fourth inning.

Sophomore Brian Christian earned his first start of the season, allowing three Minutemen to score over five innings of work. Despite a triple from sophomore Mason Koppens and a two-hit, two-stolen-base performance from freshman Charlie McConnell, NU could not send enough runners home to make a real difference.

NU got back in the win column Wednesday afternoon as junior pitcher Nate Borges held the University of Rhode Island to one run over five innings of work. It was the best start of the season for Borges, who, with Keith Kelly, carried the Huskies to a 6-2 win. Kelly smacked his third homer of the season to bring the team’s record to 11-12 on the year.

The Huskies will come back to Friedman Diamond this weekend for a conference series against defending CAA champion the University of North Carolina at Wilmington Seahawks.

Photo courtesy Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics