By James Duffy, sports editor
The Northeastern University (NU) baseball team was knocked out of contention in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) tournament by the College of William and Mary, and the Huskies saw their season end despite notching two wins in the tourney.
The tournament concluded a strong season for the Huskies, who eclipsed 30 wins for the first time since 2013.
“We took steps in the right direction in many ways, and we were really happy to get 30-plus wins,” head coach Mike Glavine said. “[I was] certainly disappointed with the final outcome. We had a chance to be a championship team, but it didn’t work out in the tournament.”
NU opened the tournament against James Madison University (JMU), falling to the Dukes 3-2. Junior pitcher Dustin Hunt tossed seven strong innings, allowing just two runs, but the usually dependable junior closer Mike Fitzgerald blew a save in the bottom of the ninth to give JMU the win.
The Huskies quickly rebounded in game two against Elon University, shaking off the tough loss from a few hours earlier. Junior Aaron Civale took the mound and was as dominant as he has been all season, holding Elon scoreless over seven innings and striking out 10.
The junior dominated the CAA, leading the conference in innings pitched, earned runs average, strikeouts and batting average against, and lived up to his billing in the playoffs. The Huskies cruised to a 3-0 victory with Civale dealing.
“He had an incredible season,” Glavine said of Civale. “He was a model of consistency. We knew what we were getting from him every time out.”
Game three had NU matched back up with JMU, but this time, the Huskies controlled the game. Junior outfielder Pat Madigan led an offensive explosion, driving home five runs in a 19-9 rout. Sophomore shortstop Max Burt chipped in three runs batted in, and eight of nine Husky hitters got on base at least once during the game.
However, NU’s bats fell silent in their fourth and final game of the tournament, as the College of William & Mary beat them 5-1 to knock them out of the playoffs. Glavine pointed out the team’s offensive inconsistency as something that plagued them all season, and it was no different in the tournament.
“I think that’s just kind of how the offense was this year,” he said. “We showed a lot of capability of putting runs on the board, but we just couldn’t do it consistently.”
That loss put an end to a successful season for the Huskies, one Glavine called a step forward for the program. He cited many players as unsung heroes behind Civale.
“Dustin Hunt had an unbelievable year, and at times may have been overshadowed by what Aaron did but he shouldn’t have been,” he said. “[Senior catcher] Josh Treff solidified what we did defensively, he was CAA Defensive Player of the Year, and up the middle, we were really solid with Max Burt at shortstop.”
The Huskies will have a tumultuous offseason, as six seniors are graduating and Glavine expects Civale and Hunt to leave for professional baseball. With Civale, Hunt and senior James Mulry leaving, NU will lose its starting pitching staff but will have a strong offense and bullpen returning.
In addition to the returning core, Glavine was optimistic about the incoming freshmen, with strong athletes coming in at almost every position.
“Everyone’s gonna be thinking we’re gonna have a down year, but we’re up to the challenge,” Glavine said. “It’ll be an interesting fall, a lot different than last year and it’ll be fun to see where a lot of these guys end up.”
Photo courtesy Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics