By James Duffy, sports editor
Wrapping up its season by winning two out of three games against Towson University, the Northeastern University (NU) baseball team clinched its fourth-straight berth into the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) tournament.
The Huskies finished the regular season with a record of 29-25 and a 12-11 record against conference opponents. They locked up their spot in the playoffs on Thursday, May 19 when junior pitcher Aaron Civale hurled eight shutout innings in a 4-0 win over Towson. Civale fanned seven, and senior catcher Josh Treff knocked in a run in the fifth that would ensure the victory.
While getting to the tournament was a goal the team had set before the season began, head coach Mike Glavine said that this season isn’t a success yet—being in the tournament is right where the Huskies should be.
“I think a great thing about where the program is at right now is the expectation that we’ll make the tournament every year,” he said.
NU also celebrated senior day against Towson on Saturday, May 22, honoring six players who will be graduating at the end of this season: Pitchers Isaac Lippert, Nick Cubarney, James Mulry and Mike Piscopo, catcher Josh Treff and second baseman Keith Kelly. Each of the six made an appearance in Saturday’s game except Mulry, who started Friday’s game, striking out five batters in as many innings.
“They all provide different things to our program and our university, and baseball isn’t the only thing that defines them,” Glavine said. “We’ll certainly miss those guys.”
This is also the first time that players in a graduating class have made it to the CAA tournament in each of their four years since the Huskies joined the conference in 2006.
Now that the regular season has officially ended, the Huskies are gearing up for their first round tournament matchup with James Madison University (JMU).
The Huskies and Dukes have already squared off this season in a three-game series in March that featured a 19-inning game and a 20-run offensive explosion from NU.
“I know they can swing the bats really well and they have some really tough arms,” Glavine said of JMU. “We’ll just have to play our best game of the year, it’s that simple.”
JMU finished 23-29 in the regular season and ended their year with a three-game sweep of Hofstra to earn their spot in the CAA tournament.
The tournament features six teams and is double elimination, and Glavine said that junior pitcher Dustin Hunt will take the mound in the opener against JMU, while Civale will get the nod in the second game of the tournament.
If the old cliche that defense wins championships holds true, the Huskies should have no issue in the tournament, according to Glavine.
“What I tell the team is that we led the conference in pitching and we led the conference in defense,” he said. “We still need to be the best team in pitching and in defense.”
The Huskies offense has been inconsistent all season, but Glavine was confident that the bats could heat up at the right time, especially with junior first baseman Cam Hanley returning from injury.
“We need to get hot offensively for four days,” Glavine said. “It’s all we need to do.”
Photo courtesy Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics.