Baseball: NU drops five straight games

Baseball: NU drops five straight games

By Chris Estrada

Despite the Northeastern baseball team’s current five-game slide, manager Neil McPhee is optimistic that they’ll be able to break out of their slump. With two weeks left in the season and six of their final eight games against Colonial Athletics Association (CAA) opponents, they have to turn it around soon.

After today’s 3 p.m. game with UMass at Friedman Diamond, the Huskies play three at conference doormat Hofstra starting Friday. A Tuesday tilt at Maine sets the stage for the final series of the season with CAA co-leader VCU, which starts next Thursday in Brookline. So while the Huskies have fallen to seventh in the league, there’s still a chance to break the top six and make the CAA tournament.

NU closed out April with a 1-3 stint, getting swept by CAA-foe Delaware (16-5, 11-5, 8-1) and grabbing a win against Marist, 6-4, April 30. Unfortunately, the momentum was dashed with a loss at Harvard (4-3), another three-game defeat at UNC Wilmington (11-5, 3-2 in 11 innings, 14-5) and an 8-7 loss to UConn Monday afternoon at Friedman Diamond.

NU (21-17, 10-13 CAA) took a 6-4 lead into the ninth against UConn, but the “other” Huskies surged for four runs in their half of the inning. Senior captain Dan Milano (2-for-5, 2 RBI) smacked an RBI double in NU’s half of the frame to cut the lead to one run and would eventually get to third with two outs, but UConn reliever Matt Karl got a game-ending strikeout to seal the victory.

“It was a tough one,” sophomore left fielder Mike Tamsin (2-for-4, RBI) said. “UConn hung in there and we had them on the ropes. They kept chipping away, chipping away, and got timely hits. We played well, but they just came away with it.”

The heart-breaking loss dampened solid performances from freshman pitcher Charly Bashara (6 1/3 innings, seven hits, eight strikeouts) on the mound and freshman right fielder/pitcher Frank Compagnone at the plate (3-for-5, two runs scored, RBI). Despite being handed their eighth loss in nine games, Tamsin said no one on the team is hitting the panic button, noting that the offense continues to produce at a solid pace.

“I think there’s not much more we can do,” Tamsin said. “The only thing we need is timely hits … and the [opponents] are bunching them together. We’ve gotten 10 hits a game … and we’ve been playing good defense. Everyone knows what we have to do and we’ll be right back in the thick of things as far as the [CAA].”

McPhee said the team remains strong and have played well at times in the streak. Touching upon the team’s relative youth, he believes a special group of players will emerge. However, that same youth is starting to show in the present.

“Clearly, we’re struggling to win games,” he said. “We’re in a stretch of time where the team is in a bit of a slump in every part of the game. It happens in baseball. What I’ve said to the team is that we will be very good soon, and it’s a good team now.”

And McPhee was optimistic for the future.

“We’re clearly showing signs of [youth], and yet we’re still in the mix. It’s just one of those stretches that we’re pressing. Hopefully, we can recover for this weekend. It’s a key weekend for us.”

However, the Seahawks of UNCW made the job harder last weekend. After jumping out to a 3-1 lead last Friday, the Seahawks put up three runs in the third to take the lead permanently. Junior pitcher Kris Dabrowiecki (6-3, 3.94 ERA) took the loss, giving up five hits and four earned runs in four innings.

Sophomore pitcher Jeff Thomson (4-4, 4.50) shook off his tough outing against Delaware to have a great day (8 1/3 innings, two runs, six hits, no walks) Saturday. NU tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the fifth when freshman center fielder Tony DiCesare hit an RBI double. Unfortunately, UNCW got the win in the bottom of the 11th with a walk-off sacrifice fly.

The final game of the series saw the teams tied at 4-4 in the bottom of the fifth, when UNCW freshman Matt Holt hit a grand slam off freshman reliever Sheldon McDonald to break the game open. The Seahawks would score two more in the sixth and another four in the eighth, effectively finishing the game. Bobby Carrington (1-2, 4.30) took the loss in relief for starter Trevor Smith.

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