Homer-hitting Huskies enter baseball postseason with dreams of NCAA bid by Ian Thomsen May 22, 2023 Share Mastodon Facebook LinkedIn Twitter The Huskies rank 15th nationally with a school-record 99 home runs in 53 games this season. Photo by Jim Pierce Danny Crossen has made a habit of exploiting opportunities. Two years ago, the third baseman broke into the starting lineup and helped drive the Northeastern University baseball team to its first Colonial Athletic Association tournament title. This season, the senior is contributing to the winningest season in school history while hitting .346—and earning respect from scouts in advance of the Major League Baseball draft. The question now is whether the Huskies (42-12 overall, 20-10 in the CAA) will extend their regular-season success to the postseason. They enter the double-elimination CAA Baseball Championship at Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, as the No. 3 seed, with an opening game at 4 p.m. Wednesday (streaming on FloBaseball.tv) against sixth-seeded William & Mary (32-23, 15-15 CAA). Senior third baseman Danny Crossen aims to finish his Northeastern career with a second NCAA tournament appearance. Photo by Jim Pierce “We have expectations because of the season we’ve had,” says Northeastern coach Mike Glavine, whose Huskies finished with the best overall winning percentage while winning seven more games than their closest CAA rival. “Because we’ve been playing so many pressure-packed games, I feel that the guys will be used to it. So I’ve just got to get them to play relaxed.” Regardless of their performance this week in North Carolina, the Huskies may have accomplished enough over the past three months to make the NCAA tournament via an at-large bid—as they did in 2018 under Glavine. Tyler MacGregor has contributed 18 homers to the Huskies’ explosive lineup. Photo by Jim Pierce Three weeks ago, the Huskies earned the program’s first midseason Top 25 ranking. They rank 15th in the nation with 99 home runs—obliterating the Northeastern record of 60 set in 2008—and are second nationally in pitching with a 3.55 earned run average. Northeastern is 7-0 against top-50 opponents in the Rating Percentage Index (RPI), which ranks teams based on strength of schedule. The Huskies have won all three of their games against ranked opponents—Boston College, Connecticut and Maryland—while setting a school record with 41 victories overall. “I’m extremely confident seeing how this team steps up in those big moments, especially when we’re playing the best competition,” Crossen says. “We know when we get to those big moments the whole team is going to be ready to go.” Crossen (12 doubles and nine homers this season) is among nine Huskies to make the All-CAA first and second teams that were announced Tuesday. Cam Maldonado (.354 with 12 homers and 41 RBI) was named the CAA’s top rookie, shortstop Spenser Smith was recognized as defensive player of the year and Glavine earned his fourth conference coach of the year in a span of seven seasons. Crossen was a sophomore in 2021 when injuries enabled him to break into the lineup. He became a mainstay of the Northeastern lineup that won 20 straight games and turned its conference regular-season title into a CAA tournament championship. Last year, Crossen suffered a broken right hand and moved to first base as the Huskies struggled to fulfill their potential during the regular season. “We were so good last year when the expectations were off and the guys were able to play loose,” Glavine says of the Huskies’ surprising run to the CAA final last year despite not having a first-round bye. “The expectations are real. I think you’ve got to embrace them and enjoy them. The tournament is a reward and you have to look at it that way.” Crossen joined Maldonado, Mike Sirota (.364 with 17 homers), Tyler MacGregor (.350, 18 homers) and Alex Lane (.318 with 15 homers and a team-best 54 RBI) to help obliterate the 2008 program record of 60 home runs. “It comes from having a lot of trust in every guy in the lineup,” Crossen says of the Huskies’ timely hitting. “One guy doesn’t have to do it all. You know everybody else in the dugout believes in you—and if you don’t get it done in that moment, you know the guy behind you is more than capable of doing it.” Crossen has reached base in 53 straight games dating back to last season. Glavine believes he has earned the right to be drafted in July. “He has a chance as long as they look past the analytics and just look at the baseball player,” Glavine says of the 6-foot Crossen. “He deserves it. He brings it every day.” The Huskies balance their run production with a pitching staff built around closer Griffin Young (nine saves with 46 strikeouts in 42 innings) and starters Aiven Cabral (8-3, 2.35 ERA), Eric Yost (6-1, 4.46) and Wyatt Scotti (6-3, 4.15), who as a junior is eligible for the draft. The Huskies are fifth in Division 1 with a scant 3.05 walks allowed per nine innings. “A big piece that we really focused on was our culture and team building,” Scotti says. “We figured out what worked and what didn’t work from last year and the previous year. We have so much talent, so how could we mold everything together?” Scotti has spent the past couple of years refining his breaking ball. He was one of five pitchers nationally to start 6-0 this season and he’s been responsible for all three of the Huskies’ shutout wins. “It gives you a lot of confidence as a pitcher to throw strikes and do your job,” Scotti says of the Huskies’ offense. “Even if you let in a run, you feel confident that we can score throughout our lineup.” Ian Thomsen is a Northeastern Global News reporter. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @IanatNU.