Baseball: Northeastern drops two vs ODU, one at BC

Baseball: Northeastern drops two vs ODU, one at BC

By Nate Owen and Chris Estrada

Rejecting the notion that Boston College pitcher Tim Houston (2-3 5.92) had been nearly impregnable in the Eagles’ 10-3 victory over Northeastern yesterday at Shea Field, Huskies manager Neil McPhee cited the team’s 10 hits as proof his team’s bats did a number on the sophomore hurler – even though Houston only allowed two earned runs in eight innings of work.

“We hit the ball very well today and had a lot of good at-bats,” McPhee said. “… It looks bad in the paper, score-wise, but we’re getting better and better and it looks to me like we’re a very young team that keeps improving.”

If the Huskies (9-9, 5-6 Colonial Athletic Conference) can keep hitting like they did yesterday, they may be able to knock James Madison for a loop when they hit Harrisonburg, Va., this weekend for a three-game series. But the Eagles (9-15-1, 4-8 Atlantic Coast Conference) made their swings count for more.

After a scoreless first inning BC shelled sophomore pitcher Dan Zehr for seven runs in the next three innings, including a four-run outburst in the fourth that finished the Ontario lefty (1-2, 6.75) for the day.

Northeastern jumped on the board in the fifth when senior third baseman Garrett Chin drove home sophomore catcher Frank Pesanello with a one-out single to right-center, making it 7-1. Scoreless relief work from junior Bobby Carrington (2 IP, 0 hits, 1 strikeout) and freshman Frank Compagnone (1 IP, 1 hit) froze the score until the top of the eighth.

After freshman center fielder David Gustafson got on with a one-out double, senior designated hitter and tri-captain Dan Milano socked a two-out, two-run bomb over the wall in left-center to cut the Huskies’ deficit to 7-3.

The Eagles were in no mood to let Northeastern back into the game and tagged the team’s last reliever, freshman Ryan Quigley, for three runs on three hits in NU’s half of the eighth.

Last weekend, with dark gray and blue road uniforms, the Old Dominion Monarchs bore a striking resemblance to the New York Yankees. The NU pitching staff probably wished the similarity ended there.

Unfortunately for the Huskies it didn’t, as ODU came into Friedman Diamond toting a conference-best .319 team batting average and a modern version of the fabled “Murder’s Row” lineup of the Yankee’s teams of the 1920s.

Friday’s game was a clash of titans, as junior Kris Dabrowiecki, one of the CAA’s hottest pitchers, went up against the loaded lineup of the Monarchs.

For the first time this season Dabrowiecki (3-1 2.93) struggled, giving up six runs in five innings, including a towering three run home run to senior catcher Tyler Belcher in the fifth. He allowed eight hits while striking out six.

ODU would rough up the Husky bullpen in the late innings and cruised to a convincing 18-1 victory.

Sophomore Dan Hudson (5-2 2.73) was strong for the Monarchs, allowing only one unearned run on five hits in 6 2/3 innings of work while striking out seven.

Redshirt freshman center fielder Tony DiCesare went 1-3 with a walk and scored NU’s lone run on a wild pitch in the first.

Sophomore Jeff Thomson was able to quiet the Monarchs’ offense on Saturday, holding them to two runs throughout the first six innings.

The Huskies took a 2-1 lead in the fourth. Sophomore left fielder Mike Tamsin lead off with a double and scored on a single by Milano. Milano would later score on a throwing error by freshman shortstop Gerard Hall.

Northeastern tacked on a run in both the fifth and sixth to take a 4-2 lead.

Entering the seventh, Thomson retired senior right fielder Nick Erdman to begin the inning.

That would be the last out he recorded, as he loaded the bases before giving way to Quigley, who struck out junior second baseman Chris Keenan before giving up a pair of two-run singles by senior left fielder Mike Zahm and junior designated hitter Dave Burns. He was replaced by Zehr, who allowed another run to score on a single by Belcher, giving ODU a 7-4 lead.

Zehr would hold the Monarchs scoreless in the eighth and ninth, keeping NU close heading into the ninth.

Gustafson got a one-out, pinch hit single in the ninth. DiCesare doubled to deep center and Compagnone drove home Gustafson with a single to left.

Tamsin followed with a single of his own, scoring DiCesare and giving Milano a chance to win the game.

Milano cranked a 2-1 offering from ODU sophomore Ross Fetterly to deep left, missing a walk-off home run by inches as Zahm caught it with his back against the wall.

Porter grounded out to Fetterly to end the threat and give ODU the win.

Thomson (2-2 5.00), took the loss, allowing four earned runs in 6 1/3 innings of work, while striking out six and allowing five hits.

After going 3-5 with three RBIs in the Monarch’s 18-1 rout the day before, sophomore Anthony Shawler (7-0 2.83) dominated the Huskies, allowing two earned runs in eight innings while striking out 10.

Freshman Sheldon McDonald took the hill for Northeastern Sunday in search of his first win of the season. He struggled, lasting only three innings while allowing six runs (four earned) on six hits.

ODU junior Ryan Bergh, the reigning CAA Pitcher of the Week, didn’t fare much better, lasting only 3.1 innings while allowing seven runs on six hits.

It came down to a battle of the bullpens, and Northeastern had a clear advantage with sophomore Trevor Smith returning to his dominant self, retiring 11 straight batters at one point.

Smith (3-2 5.74) went six innings, allowing only one run on six hits, striking out six Monarchs to pick up the win. ODU got the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but Smith ended the threat by getting sophomore center fielder Cameron Scott to fly out to left.

“It’s good [to have a solid outing],” Smith said. “It was just a matter of time with the fastball, again establishing it early and just attacking the zone.”

NU took the lead for good in the fourth. Porter and Lyon started the inning with back-to-back doubles. A pair of wild pitches in the inning allowed Lyon and Gustafson to score and Compagnone had an RBI double to give NU a 7-6 lead.

Milano added a two-run home run in the fifth, cranking one just to the left of the 375 marker, mere feet from where his potential game winning home run had fallen into the glove of Zahm the day before.

NU would add two more runs in the seventh on a two-run triple by DiCesare and held on for an 11-7 win. Bergh (3-5 4.91) took the loss.

DiCesare was a sparkplug at the top of the order, going 6-13 (.462) in the series with four runs and two RBIs.

“DiCesare, he’s really coming into his own,” McPhee said. “He’s developing so quickly into a bonafide big time prospect possibly.”

The Huskies’ young talent is progressing nicely, McPhee said.

“Everybody is contributing at some point in time as rookies,” he said. “They’re still making young player mistakes, but they are still coming through so all that stuff with experience will lessen; [the] mistakes will reduce as time goes on.”

Northeastern will travel to play non-conference opponent Marist today, before opening a three-game set at CAA opponent James Madison (9-19, 4-7 CAA) this weekend.

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