Weekend Roundup — April 4, 2016

Yeah. That’ll teach me to gloat about early-season weather. Mother Nature really took a buzzsaw to the New England college baseball scene this weekend. Thanks to some creative scheduling, though, we’ve still got plenty to recap. Big weeks for Northeastern and Hartford in D1, Franklin Pierce kept on rolling in D2, and Wesleyan stayed hot after returning from Arizona in D3. More on those teams and plenty of others after the jump.

Division I

Co-Team of the Week: Since Northeastern joined the CAA a decade ago, they’ve had some good seasons, but have never quite broken through to the top tier of the league. Obviously, a third place finish in their first year in the league, a 30-win campaign and semifinal run in 2013, and their current run of three straight tournament appearances are nothing to scoff at, but they don’t measure up to their days in the America East, when they were consistently near the top of the standings and went to three NCAA Tournaments in the space of a decade. Weekends like this one, however, will have Mike Glavine’s team thinking this could be their year.

After splitting midweek games with UMass (L, 3-2) and URI (W, 6-2), Northeastern welcomed CAA favorites UNC Wilmington to Brookline for a big weekend series. Mark Scalf’s Seahawks have won three of the last four CAA titles, averaging 40 wins a year in those campaigns. As the #2 seed in LSU’s Regional in 2015, they beat Tulane twice to make a run to the regional finals. And they came into this weekend hot off a 6-1 run in which they’d beaten #15 NC State. None of that was a problem for the Huskies, though, who never trailed during a comfortable two-game sweep.

Friday’s opener started off tightly enough, with Aaron Civale and Ryan Foster dueling their way to a 1-1 scoreline through five. The Husky offense changed that in a hurry in the sixth, with Max Burt doubling in the go-ahead run and Josh Treff busted the game open with a three-run homer over the left-center field fence. As if that wasn’t enough, the senior backstop threw out five would-be basestealers on the day. Civale would go on to pitch eight innings to earn his fourth win of the year, and the Huskies took the game, 9-4. In Saturday’s series decider, a Charlie McConnell homer and two RBI from Pat Madigan were plenty enough for Dustin Hunt (7 IP, 0 R, 7 K) and Tyler Robinson (2 IP, H, K, save) to power NU to a 3-0 victory. Sunday’s game got cancelled, but two wins here is a phenomenal result for the Huskies. They’ll be back home next weekend for another big series with Elon.

Co-Team of the Week: We also saw yet another great week from Hartford. After beating Holy Cross and Yale in the midweek, the Hawks had their winning streak snapped in walkoff fashion by UMass Lowell, but still took a series win back to Connecticut. UML’s Andrew Ryan gave Hartford all they could handle in the opener, allowing just an unearned run in seven. Three early runs for the RiverHawks meant Hartford trailed 3-1 heading into the ninth, but they pulled out a remarkable comeback to win 4-3. I’ll let you figure out how exactly it went down (from the box score: “OSTBERG, E reached on a fielder’s choice, out at second 1b to 2b, RBI; DELDEBBIO, C out at second ss to 2b; MACKINNON, D advanced to third, scored on an error by 2b, unearned; RUCH, D scored.”), but after they scored three in the top half, Collin Ferguson closed things out to earn his fourth save of the year. After a tough loss in game two, a combined Sunday shutout from Brian Murphy and John LaRossa gave them the road series win. Justin Blood’s team has now won 12 of 14 and is looking great heading into a big series with preseason favorites Stony Brook.

Our three NEC teams combined to go 7-2 in a weather-shortened week. Central Connecticut was the only club to get in a full four games, and they took home a nice road series win over previously 4-0 Wagner. After dropping the opener, Andrew Hinckley’s seven-inning shutout gave them a 2-0 victory in game two, and Corey Lerche’s homer and four RBI helped the Blue Devils to a 5-4/8-2 sweep. Sacred Heart took two of three from FDU. In game one, Zack Short’s double and home run powered a 9-6 win, and in Saturday’s 2-0 series-clincher, Jason Foley, Jeff Stoddard, and Baylor Sundahl combined for the Pioneers’ fifth shutout in six league games. And finally, league-leaders Bryant preserved their perfect record with a 2-0 weekend against LIU Brooklyn. Early solo shots from Cole Fabio, Matt Albanese, and Zach Wood provided plenty of offense for James Karinchak (8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 7 K) in a 3-1 win on Friday. On Saturday, Albanese homered again, and Nick Angelini had a three-one shot of his own in a 5-1 win.

Elsewhere, UConn had a solid week to open up AAC play, beating BC on Tuesday before splitting two games with #27 Tulane. John Toppa (2-4, 2B, 3 RBI) and Anthony Kay (7 IP, 2 H, 4 R, 8 K) led the way in Friday’s 9-4 win over the Green Wave. Yale led the way in the Rolfe Division’s Ivy League-opening weekend on the road, sweeping a doubleheader from defending champions Columbia on Saturday. In the opener, Harrison White’s fifth-inning grand slam helped the Bulldogs overcome an early deficit to win 14-5, and Nate Adams’s clutch two-run double helped them come away with a 10-inning, 9-7 win in game two. And finally, Holy Cross opened Patriot League play with a solid road split down at Navy, with Alex Voitik’s two doubles and three RBI leading the way in a Saturday doubleheader sweep.

Division II

Team of the Week: It’s Franklin Pierce. Shocker, I know. In a 4-0 week, the Ravens won a top-10 showdown with archrivals SNHU, pounded Stonehill on Thursday, and wrapped things up with a comfortable doubleheader sweep of AIC on Saturday. In Wednesday’s win over the Penmen, FPU jumped out to a 4-0 lead after four, which proved to be too much for the Penmen to overcome in a 5-3 result. Jay Jabs’s two RBI and fourth homer of the year led the offense. (That’s 17 homers in the last season-and-a-half for the junior, which helps explain why he’s leading the Northeast-10 in walks.) On the mound, Paul Covelle went seven strong (3 H, 2 R, 9 K), and Tanner Bird fanned four in two relief innings to earn the save. The next day against Stonehill, FPU scored in every inning but the seventh, and Matt O’Herron homered and drove in five in a 20-7 blowout. And on Saturday, they ran their record to 24-2 in a 7-2/9-4 sweep of AIC. In those four games, they racked up a remarkable 20 steals, and now feature the league’s top five basestealers. By himself, Jay Jabs (with 32) has more steals than 10 of the league’s 15 teams. Anyways, the Ravens haven’t lost since March 15, and they’ll be licking their chops ahead of a ten-game homestand that starts with a game against Saint Anselm this Friday.

Southern New Hampshire had a strong week apart from Wednesday’s loss, putting up 49 runs between three wins over Saint Michael’s and AIC (x2). That run included 45 hits (16 for extra-bases). The Penmen now feature the NE-10’s leaders in home runs (Derek Bauer, 5), triples (Mike Mastroberti, 8), and RBI (Mastroberti again, 28), and also top each of those categories as a team.

A lot of incredible individual performances there, but we have to go to North Andover to find the best of the week: Perry Kulaga’s no-hitter against Assumption. After dropping four straight, his Merrimack team needed a stopper, and I’d have to say he delivered. He struck out seven over the nine no-hit frames in just the second no-hitter in the Warriors’ history. Unsurprisingly, he was named the conference’s pitcher of the week and now sits at 2-1 with a 2.59 on the year.

Outside the NE-10, Bridgeport had an excellent 4-1 week that included four ECC wins. It was highlighted by Wednesday’s extra-inning win over Queens, which completed a series win they put in motion last weekend. The Purple Knights trailed 5-3 after their opponents put up a big fourth, but six scoreless relief innings from Dakota Edwards and Andrew Oswald helped the offense mount a comeback. A pair of RBI singles from Jose Negron tied the game to send it to extras, where Alec Jannotta’s 10th-inning RBI gave them the road win. From there, UB took three of four from Mercy to run their league record to 6-2 ahead of next weekend’s meeting with second-place Molloy.

Some other quick hits: Bentley got a nice road win over Stonehill on Wednesday, with 4 1/3 scoreless relief innings from Nick Williams helping to force extras, where a big 10th gave the Falcons an 8-3 win. Saint Anselm notched a pair of one-run wins over Saint Michael’s (4-3) and Post (5-4). Paul Trabucco’s 8th-inning sac fly made the difference against SMC, and he came through again the next day with a walkoff single to beat the Eagles. And finally, a win over crosstown rivals New Haven highlighted Southern Connecticut‘s 2-0 week. After beating Post in extras the day before, Jake Paul’s two-run double led a six-run 4th that was enough to see his team past the Chargers.

Division III

Team of the Week: After reeling off three straight wins to complete a 9-3 Arizona trip, Wesleyan came back to New England with a bang. They took down Coast Guard and Eastern Connecticut by comfortable margins in the midweek before going on the road to sweep a doubleheader from Colby. In Tuesday’s home-opening 11-5 win over the Bears, senior Marco Baratta went 2-4 with a double and 4 RBI, and middle-of-the-order counterpart Matt Jeye homered and drove in three of his own. The Cardinals came back out to Andrus Field to get a big OOC win the next day, 9-2 over ECSU. Three early runs drove the Warriors’ Patrick O’Neill after three, and Ethan Rode (6 2/3, 7 H, 2 R, 7 K) held off Eastern until the eighth, when five Wesleyan runs put this one to bed. On Saturday in Maine, Soren Hanson gave Wes their toughest game of the week, but Peter Rantz matched him for Mark Woodworth’s team, and late RBIs from Baratta and Jeye helped them to a 3-1 win. In the back end, the Cardinals finished off the perfect week in style, putting three touchdowns past the Mules behind Guy Davidson (2 2B, 5 RBI) and Andrew Keith (2B, 4 RBI) in a 21-1 win. The Cardinals are now 13-3, have won seven straight, and join Little Three rivals Amherst in the top three of this week’s NEIBA poll. Just a shame that Sunday’s game with Endicott (#2 in that poll) got cancelled and won’t be made up.

Not as much as usual to recap from elsewhere, as D3 got hit hardest by the weather, but here are some quick hits.

The NESCAC somehow managed to get all but one of its league games in this weekend, and AmherstTuftsTrinity, and Middlebury all came away with series wins. Amherst needed some late magic to pull theirs off on Saturday against a surprisingly tough Hamilton team, but Joe Feldman’s walkoff single in the 10th inning of the rubber game did just that. Tufts swept a doubleheader in a short series against Bates, with 10 Ks in eight from Speros Verinos and an extra-innings RBI from Dan Kelly leading the way in the opener, and Andrew David’s seven-inning shutout powering a 9-0 win in game two. Staying in the east, Trinity took two of three home games from Bowdoin. Brendan Pierce’s sixth-inning RBI made the difference in Friday’s 4-3 result, and Anthony Egeln Jr.’s two-hit shutout won the series. Finally, Middlebury won its first league set since 2014 by taking two of three from Williams in Arizona. After dropping the opener, Spencer Tonies scored the winning run on a walkoff wild pitch in game two, and Raj Palekar’s triple and 3 RBI led a 14-hit attack that won the finale 11-4.

The CCC had another strong week, paced by a pair of big wins for Endicott and perfect short weeks from Roger WilliamsGordon, and Nichols. The Gulls, who you’ll remember have already beaten #1 Cortland, added nice wins over USM and MIT this week. EC trailed 3-2 heading to the ninth against the Huskies, but Matt Paola came through with a walkoff infield single that brought Mike Casciano in to score the winning run. The next day, they took to the road and won in the ninth again over the Engineers. RBI from Josh Drew and Mike DeDonato erased a 4-2 deficit in the seventh, and Anthony Serina’s ninth-inning sac fly gave them a 5-4 lead that Victor Molle closed out in the bottom half, striking out the big bat of Austin Filiere for the final out. Elsewhere, RWU picked up a pair of nice road wins over UMass Dartmouth and Babson. Shawn Cariglio’s homer and Kevin Baker’s 6-9 week paced them offensively, and usual starter Tyler Campo worked in the closer’s role in both wins, striking out five batters in three relief innings to earn a pair of saves. Gordon, meanwhile, went 3-0 by beating Rivier and sweeping a doubleheader from Norwich, and Nichols swept a doubleheader from Lesley in their only action of the week.

Elsewhere, Fitchburg State and Salem State both opened up their MASCAC campaigns with sweeps. The Falcons took down Framingham in Northborough, with Brendan Cutler’s two-run double leading a comeback 4-3 win in the opener, and Robert Lewis’s grand slam leading a 14-4 victory in game two. Salem, meanwhile, swept MCLA at home. Sean Buckland fanned 12 Trailblazers en route to a seven-inning shutout in the front end, and Mike Davis’s homer helped the Vikings pull away late in game two.

Mostly non-league action from here on out. Rhode Island College put up 11 runs in each of its three midweek wins, over Worcester State, Becker, and Brandeis. Brad Douglas now leads the Little East with 20 RBI on the season, and and Edward Apice and TJ Lynch join him in the top-5 with 17 apiece (apice?). In the NEWMAC, offense carried WPI and Babson to some big midweek wins. The Engineers beat Emerson 23-3, then Fitchburg 18-6 in a 2-0 week. Alex Venditti, John Mulready, Anthony Capuano, Dj Ouellette, and Steven Gallagher all homered against the Lions, and Evan Lacroix got in on the action with one against the Falcons. The Beavers, meanwhile, slugged their way to a 19-4 home win over Framingham. Jack Halpin doubled twice and drove in five, and Mark Webber and Owen Shea each homered.

In the GNAC, a 2-1 for Suffolk helped them climb to #5 in the NEIBA poll on the back of their 13-4 start. In a 6-2 win over Bridgewater, Tim Conroy gave up just an earned run in six, and Chuck Gibson and Cal Carroll combined for three innings of perfect relief. The next day, Curry played the Rams close, but Drew Carter’s ninth-inning single helped break a late deadlock to give Suffolk an 8-6 road win. Much further north, GNAC title rivals Saint Joseph’s won their first game outside of Florida, 5-2 on the road against Husson. Brett Barbati’s two doubles paced the offense, and Josh Partidge struck out 11 Eagles in seven strong. Finally, in the NECC, Elms continued its strong start with a 3-1 week that featured lopsided margins against neighbors Westfield State (9-3) and Springfield (11-2). Conference mates Southern Vermont picked up a pair of road wins over Eastern Nazarene (8-1) and MCLA (16-4). The Mountaineers are now riding a four-game win streak, their longest since 2009.

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