Baseball: Huskies climb to third in CAA

Baseball: Huskies climb to third in CAA

By Nate Owen and Chris Estrada

Four was the Huskies’ magic number this past week. With a 9-2 win over Holy Cross yesterday at Friedman Diamond, the Huskies pushed their winning streak to four games.

Four was also the number of times senior catcher and tri-captain Dan Milano was retired this weekend in a sweep at James Madison, going 10-14 (.714) with two home runs, eight RBIs and five runs.

For the week, he hit .667 (12-18) with three home runs, 10 RBIs and six runs scored to earn Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Week honors. With a 2-4 showing yesterday, he now has a 15-game hitting streak, just three shy of the school record.

“He’s having a terrific year,” said manager Neil McPhee. “He’s clearly the offensive catalyst for the team … [he’s getting] a lot of two-out RBIs, that’s just senior leadership, [the] captain of the team picking everybody up during the game.”

With the four-game winning streak, NU upped its record to 13-9 (8-6 CAA), which pushed them from sixth to third in the conference. The Huskies were voted second in New England behind Central Connecticut by the New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association poll.

After getting tagged for seven runs against Boston College last week in his first Northeastern start sophomore Dan Zehr bounced back strong against Holy Cross (6 innings, two earned runs, six strikeouts) yesterday as the Huskies knocked off the Crusaders, 9-2, at Friedman Diamond.

Zehr led a Husky pitching corps that was on top of its game in chilly conditions. After Zehr’s exit, junior reliever Bobby Carrington pitched two scoreless innings. Freshman Ryan Quigley finished the job with a one-two-three ninth inning that included two strikeouts.

“The pitching has been pretty much that way the whole season,” McPhee said. “We can actually go to our bullpen, match up righties and lefties, and bring them in at various times. … It’s really helping out every starter by getting them out of the game without throwing excessive pitch counts, so it’s really working well right now.”

Northeastern jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second when sophomore third baseman James Donaldson ripped a two-run double down the left field line, scoring Milano and junior shortstop Mike Lyon. After Holy Cross answered with a third-inning RBI single from junior catcher Brendan Akashian, the Huskies retaliated in the fourth with a triple from Donaldson. Donaldson, who fell a home run short of the cycle, came home after redshirt freshman second baseman Bryan Roberts hit a one-out fielder’s choice to make it 3-1.

Northeastern had runners at the corners in the fifth inning, when freshman losing pitcher Ryan George’s (0-3 11.40) attempt to throw out Milano at first base ended up getting past the Crusaders’ junior first baseman Kyle Lister.

Sophomore first baseman Mike Tamsin scored from third to make it 4-1, Huskies. Holy Cross scored a run in the sixth, but Lyon’s RBI double to right field in the seventh pushed the lead back to three runs at 5-2. The Huskies finally broke the game open in the eighth as redshirt freshman right fielder Tony DiCesare smacked a three-run triple to right-center that created nasty consequences.

Senior center fielder Matt Perron and senior right fielder Norm Roth collided and missed the ball, leaving Perron sprawled on the grass. After being attended to by trainers and teammates, Perron was helped up and was able to leave the field under his own power. Junior pinch-hitter Alex Fox closed the scoring after the incident with a groundrule double that scored DiCesare from third.

After a rough outing last Friday against a fierce Old Dominion lineup, junior Kris Dabrowiecki bounced back against James Madison in game one Friday. Dabrowiecki (4-1 2.89) went 6 2/3 innings, allowing just two runs on four hits.

“It felt good [to have a strong outing],” Dabrowiecki said. “After [the] last game, I just cleared my mind. I went after batters a little more, [my] pitches were a little sharper.”

Northeastern scored its first run on an RBI ground out by junior first baseman and tri-captain Josh Porter in the fourth. After JMU took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the inning, the Huskies scored two runs in the sixth to take the lead for good. DiCesare led off the inning with his first collegiate home run. An RBI single by Lyon gave the Huskies a 3-2 lead.

NU tacked on another run in the eighth, courtesy of a run-scoring single by Lyon. They then blew the gates wide open in the ninth, scoring four times, highlighted by a two-run home run by Milano. Milano finished 4-5 with three runs and two RBIs while Lyon went 2-4 with a pair of RBIs.

Freshman Sheldon McDonald came out of the pen to pitch the final 2 1/3 innings in relief of Dabrowiecki, notching his second save of the season. Sophomore Kurt Houck (0-6 8.23) took the loss for the Dukes.

On Saturday, sophomore Jeff Thomson (3-2, 4.41) cruised, allowing three runs (two earned) in 7 2/3 innings of work, allowing seven hits and striking out four.

While Thomson was zoned in, James Madison sophomore Justin Wood (2-5 5.77) probably wished he slept in that morning. The Huskies gave him an ugly wake-up call to the tune of nine hits and six runs in just four innings of work.

NU hit five home runs, as Tamsin, Porter and Milano chipped in one each. Sophomore designated hitter Frank Pesanello hit two, his second multi-homer game of the year, helping the Huskies cruise to a convincing 9-3 win. For Milano, it was his fourth straight game with a home run.

Pesanello has six home runs in just 55 at bats, good for a Barry Bonds-esque .709 slugging percentage. Quigley and Carrington blanked the Dukes for the remaining 1 1/3 innings in relief of Thomson.

Sunday saw sophomore Trevor Smith (3-2 5.85) take the mound for his first start since March 18. Despite his final line (5 2/3 innings, six hits, four earned runs), Smith struck out eight in what McPhee felt was his best start of the year.

“Trevor Smith pitched his best game of the year, even though he gave up two home runs to the same kid [redshirt freshman first baseman Steve Caseres],” he said.

NU got on the board in the first on an RBI single by Milano and took the lead in the eighth on a single by Tamsin. Pesanello drove home an insurance run in the ninth and Carrington, McDonald and Quigley blanked the Dukes for the final 3 1/3 innings. McDonald (1-2, 7.77) picked up his first collegiate win and Quigley his third save of the year. Senior Bobby Lasko (0-2 3.93) took the loss for JMU.

“One of the absolute keys to this weekend was Sheldon and Ryan Quigley,” McPhee said. “Both of them showed what they’re made of as freshman, to have the ability to come back after having a not successful outing [last weekend against ODU]. Nobody’s going to be perfect. We’re all looking to see how you respond to adversity and both of them couldn’t have responded better.”

The Huskies will travel to South Carolina to take on non-conference foe Winthrop (22-15, 8-1 Big South) this weekend.

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