After losing in extra innings to Towson on Thursday afternoon, the Northeastern Huskies rallied back from behind two days in a row to win the three game set in Maryland and qualify for the school’s first Colonial Athletic Association playoff. Senior catcher Frank Pesanello, already the school’s career home run leader, homered in each of the three games to lead the charge.
Northeastern and Towson came into the weekend tied for sixth place in the CAA, which features a six team playoff. The winner of the series would play in the postseason, with the loser likely eliminated before the playoffs even began. It was sure to be a battle of contrasts as Towson sports the conference’s most powerful lineup while Northeastern has pitched its way to a winning season.
It was offense that ruled Thursday’s game, as both starters gave up seven earned runs in a combined 4.2 innings of work. The score was 10-10 after seven innings when the schools both sent in their best relievers to settle the offenses down. Northeastern’s Dan Zehr pitched two scoreless innings to help the game into extra innings, but ran out of gas in the eleventh when Austin Harclerode ended the game with a walk-off three run homer to put the Tigers one win away from the postseason and the Huskies a loss away from being eliminated.
When Towson scored six runs in the bottom of the first on Friday, the Huskies’ backs were really to the wall. Now they were down six runs in a must-win situation, and turned to their senior leadership to turn the game around. The upperclassmen did not disappoint. Mike Tamsin hit a two-run home run in the fifth and singled in a run in the seventh to lead the charge for the Huskies, who hung four runs up in that fifth and another five in the seventh en route to a 13-11 victory. Andrew Leenhouts pitched two innings to get a long, tough save and keep the postseason hopes alive for the Huskies.
The Huskies were off to a much better start on Saturday, taking the lead early on and building it up to as much as 4-2 before Towson started to rally. The Tigers hung three runs in both the sixth and seventh innings to take an 8-4 lead with six outs remaining in the Northeastern Huskies’ baseball season. With one out in the top of the eighth, senior second baseman James Donaldson started a rally with a home run to left center. Sophomore Ryan Maguire singled in two more runs in the eighth to cut the deficit to one run. Mike Tamsin tripled in the tying run in the top of the ninth with nobody out, and it was Frank Pesanello who broke the tie with a home run in the very next at bat. Northeastern would put up five runs in the top of the ninth, enough to put them past Towson and into the CAA playoffs as the #5 seed.
That five seed is a big opportunity for the Huskies. The six seed would have forced them to play against George Mason, who has led the conference all season and who has been ranked as high as #22 nationally this year. Instead, Northeastern will play Georgia State. GSU is 12-9 in the CAA and won two out of three against Northeastern when the two teams met earlier this season at Friedman Diamond. The two teams are scheduled to start at 3:30 on Wednesday afternoon in Wilmington, North Carolina.