After falling short last season in CAA, Northeastern comes out on top with series sweep against Hofstra


Photo courtesy Jim Pierce

Sophomore center fielder Mike Sirota jogs around the bases after slamming a home run in Friday’s game against Hofstra. The homer was his first of two throughout the weekend.

Sarah Popeck, news staff

The series matchup between Northeastern (32-7, 13-5 CAA) and Hofstra (17-22, 9-12 CAA) was a flashback to the 2022 CAA championship, where the Huskies slipped up, falling 7-6 and walking away from the title game empty-handed.

Nonetheless, emotions did not hinder their game — the Huskies swept the series and took all three contests with the help of their  bullpen and batting lineup.

“We’re onto this year, and all those cliches, we barely talked about,” Northeastern head coach Mike Glavine said. “One of our big mantras this year is to focus on us and not worry about what anybody else is doing. We’re never looking at the opponent; we’re looking at our dugout and our bullpen.”

Freshman right-hander Aiven Cabral opened on the mound for the Huskies Friday with two straight 1-2-3 innings. Hofstra’s Cade Henry, a right-handed junior, matched with three straight strikeouts in the bottom of the first and a scoreless second inning.

Cabral ran into some trouble in the top of the third when graduate left fielder Jake Liberatore singled up the middle and then swiped a base. Soon after, senior infielder Michael Florides hit another single that moved Liberatore one base away from home. Freshman center fielder Dylan Palmer bunted in hopes of giving the Pride a run, but Cabral was quick on his feet, tagging Liberatore out and getting the Huskies out of the inning unscathed.

In the bottom of the third, Henry began to slip up when he allowed junior second baseman Luke Beckstein to walk — just his third walk of the season. Sophomore center fielder Mike Sirota, the Huskies’ leadoff hitter who had previously struck out in the first, came back with a powerful hit out of the park to score him and Beckstein and put Northeastern up with a 2-0 lead.

Graduate first baseman Tyler MacGregor started momentum again with a triple deep into the outfield but was left on base when senior outfielder Alex Lane popped out to left center field.

The Huskies fired up for the bottom of the fourth, starting with a single from shortstop Spenser Smith. Junior catcher Gregory Bozzo hit another single to move Smith to second. After, a wild pitch by Henry advanced them both up a base and Beckstein hit a single that sent the pair home. Beckstein scored when third baseman Danny Crossen made a hit, putting the Huskies up at 5-0.

After Beckstein singled and Sirota walked, Hofstra retired Henry in the sixth for freshman right-hander Sean Hamilton, who hoped to prevent further damage. While he evaded more runs in the rest of that inning, the next gave the Huskies another chance to shine. 

After hitting Lane with a pitch, Hamilton then walked freshman right fielder Cam Maldonado and Feinberg, loading the bases. All it took was a fielder’s choice when Smith came to bat, sending Lane home for a 6-0 lead. Smith swiped a base, but Bozzo struck out before they could get another hit on the record. 

Hofstra got in a few hits throughout the game, but they were not able to put themselves on the board until the top of the eighth when Northeastern rotated right-handed sophomore Hayden Smith onto the mound, who allowed two walks for Pride graduate student designated hitter Brian Morrell and senior catcher Kevin Bruggeman. Junior right fielder Steve Harrington sealed the deal with a double to left center, scoring Morrell and finally putting the Pride on the board for a 6-1 tally.

“[Hofstra] can hit. They lined out multiple times, but we can hit too.” Glavine said. “We have to be smart on the mound, we have to make pitches and play really clean defense.”

After Hofstra’s one and only run of the contest, Northeastern put in graduate right-hander Griffin Young to close out the game. He successfully got them out of the inning, leaving two Hofstra runners on the base in both the eighth and ninth innings and giving Northeastern their first win of the weekend.

Right-handed junior Eric Yost started for Northeastern in their first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, allowing eleven hits and four runs in 89 pitches over six innings. Hofstra made three detrimental errors, falling to the Huskies with a final score of 14-5.

“Eric battled, he did a really nice job … he settled in and gave us what we needed,” Glavine said.

The Pride made the first move, with Bruggeman scoring on an RBI single from senior second baseman Santino Rosso in the top of the first. 

Northeastern was quick to catch up at the bottom, as Crossen hit the ball to left field for his first homer of the day. They continued as freshman designated hitter Carmelo Musacchia sent an RBI single infield to score MacGregor. Spenser Smith did the same to earn Musacchia and Cam Maldonado runs. After just one inning, Northeastern had a 4-1 lead.

Palmer scored one for the Pride, and the team had a home run of its own when Bruggeman smashed the ball out of the park in the third.

Although Hofstra was inching up, Bozzo started the bottom of the fourth with a single. Beckstein hit a double that sent Bozzo home and put Northeastern up two runs at 5-3, all while Yost was throwing strong pitches from the mound.

While Hofstra added a run to their tally in the top of the sixth, the Huskies pulled off a six-run inning in the bottom, including a two-RBI home run from Alex Lane.

Bozzo tacked on his first career homer in the bottom of the eighth, scoring him and Spenser Smith to put the Huskies at a 14-5 lead. All it took was two final strikeouts by graduate right-hander Jordy Allard to finish things off.

Though the Huskies had already won the series by the time they stepped on the diamond for game three, they sought a series sweep to close things off.

Hofstra sent graduate pitcher Brad Camarda to the mound for a chance to prevent the Huskies’ sweep, but Sirota came out strong with a single to start the game. He then swiped a base to make his way to second and advanced to third on an error by Bruggeman. Lane hit the ball to the shortstop, giving him a single and crediting him with an RBI as Sirota scored the first run of the contest.

Camarda held out for the second inning, but Sirota came to the plate once again in the third inning as a dangerous force. A regular hit would not suffice as he smashed the ball out of the park for the Huskies’ fourth homer of the day.

Lane stepped up to bat in the bottom of the fourth, hitting a ball that was mere feet away from going outside the fences and being caught in the outfield. Maldonado, a freshman sensation for the Huskies, was able to garner enough power to follow it up with a homer of his own.

Crossen joined the homer party in the fifth with a two-RBI smash that sent him and Sirota around the bases. 

Maldonado would do it again in the bottom of the sixth and help Lane score alongside him, giving him the program record for most home runs in a freshman season with nine thus far. By the end of the sixth, the Huskies were up 7-0, and Hofstra failed to make their way onto the board.

On the defensive side, Northeastern brought right-hander Jake Gigliotti to the mound. He only allowed two hits over 73 pitches, staying in the game for six innings. Gigliotti also threw eight strikeouts and was a force against Hofstra.

The seventh brought new pitchers for both teams. Northeastern sent graduate right-hander Patrick Harrington to the mound, while Hofstra put in Penn Sealey mid-inning to minimize more damage.

In the top of the eighth, Hofstra gained a home run of their own from redshirt junior first baseman Zach Bailey to score their first run of the game. Harrington shut them down afterward, allowing one hit in the ninth but no runs.

Lane redeemed his prior hit from the fourth — in the bottom of the eighth, the ball was sent far beyond the fence and gave the Huskies an 8-1 finish. 

Freshmen shined this weekend with players like Maldonado and Cabral who continue to smash records and keep the Huskies on a winning streak.

“We’re blessed to have kids that are talented but the right fit for our team and our program. Talent is really important, but you have to find the right fit,” Glavine said. “These guys work really hard, have great teammates and great success.”

The Huskies face Towson (12-26, 3-13 CAA) at Friedman Diamond for another series next weekend, with a first pitch Friday at 2:05 p.m.