The Spring Training Exhibition: How the Huskies have fared over the years

Jordan Baron, news staff

Playing a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox is an experience very few college teams can say they’ve had. The Northeastern Huskies are among those few.

Each year since the inception of the tradition in 2004, the Huskies have played the Red Sox at the beginning of their Spring Training schedule in a seven-inning exhibition game. And each time since 2004, the Huskies have lost. Some years worse than others, yes, but as expected, the Huskies have not fared well against the major league talent of the Sox. The Red Sox usually do not play many of their major league caliber players against NU, but instead opt to play minor leaguers who have received a spring training invite.

Looking back, The first time the Huskies faced the Sox was in 1977, 27 years before the start of the annual Spring Training exhibition games. The match-up was played at Fenway Park, and the Huskies lost 10-2.

NU was outscored 24-0 in their first two years playing against the Sox, before plating two runs in a 9-2 loss in 2006. That year, the Huskies went on to finish third in the CAA, posting a 27-23 record and going 19-10 in-conference.

Fast forward to 2007, and the Huskies are shut out again on two hits by the destined-to-be World Series winning Red Sox. They were playing the likes of Mike Lowell, Kevin Youkilis, Coco Crisp and David Ortiz, and had to face two innings of Josh Beckett, who struck out five of the seven batters he faced and went on to go 20-7 with a 3.27 ERA over the course of the Major League season.

2008-2010 was a dark time for the Huskies. They were outscored 44-0 across three games, and only accumulated seven hits. In 2011, the Huskies put up two more runs on a then-record four hits against the Sox, who sported a lineup including Jacoby Ellsbury and Jed Lowrie, in what resulted in a disastrous season for NU, as they went on to go 18-33 on the season and finished third-to-last in the CAA standings.

2012 was the worst performance the Huskies have ever had in the Spring Training exhibition. The Red Sox slaughtered the seemingly sleeping dogs, winning 25-0 and racking up 23 hits, compared to NU’s measly three. Most of the Red Sox lineup was composed of true major leaguers, and it showed.

2013 saw the Huskies go pitch-to-pitch with the Sox, losing only 3-0 in the closest showing since the teams began playing each other nine years prior. NU kept it close in 2014, losing by three again, only this time they plated another two runs, good for six total over the decade of play.

2015 was the best performance NU has ever put up against their Major League rivals. Facing a lineup of stars including Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino and Xander Bogaerts, the Huskies were toe-to-toe with the Sox the whole way through. Now Cleveland Indians pitcher Aaron Civale, who played for Northeastern before being drafted in 2016, struck out four Red Sox hitters over two innings. The Huskies tied the 1-0 game in the final frame on a Sox throwing error before allowing a Boston runner to score on a similar error in the eighth, giving the Red Sox the win, 2-1.

The Huskies scored a record three runs against the Sox in an 8-3 loss in 2016, and put up an even more impressive six runs on a record nine hits to the Sox eight in 2017, losing 6-9. 2018 was an ugly year, as the World Series-destined Red Sox scored 15 runs compared to the Huskies two. After scoring runs for three years in a row, the Huskies went back to their scoreless ways in 2019, losing 6-0.

However, 2020 is a new year, a new decade and the Huskies are facing an entirely new Red Sox team. The Red Sox have lost their franchise player in Mookie Betts and one of their best pitchers in David Price, and are seated behind the Houston Astros as the spotlight of the league after the sign-stealing scandal swept across the Major League media scene.

Morale may be low for the Red Sox, and it could be the perfect time for the Huskies to attack and secure their first win in 16 years of play. However, after being swept on opening weekend by SEC powerhouse Alabama, the clubhouse confidence may be low for NU as well.

The two clubs will battle it out in Fort Myers, Florida on Friday at 1:05 p.m. on NESN.