BROOKLINE MASS – In a game that featured an early unusual twist, it was a return to form that propelled Northeastern to a win over VCU Saturday afternoon at Friedman Diamond.
The Rams broke a 1-1 tie with four runs in the third-a rally which started with a rare walk issued by senior Jeff Thomson, who entered the game allowing a stingy 0.58 walks per nine innings, best in the nation.
But the co-captain walked junior Richard Gonzalez on a borderline pitch to lead off the inning, sparking a four run rally and marking the end of the day for Thomson, who failed to record an out in the second. Senior R.J. Schenk delivered the big blow of the inning, lining a two run single to right.
“We’ve seen this with Jeff before, he’s a spot pitcher, they’re not a power team, they’re a bat control team,” NU head coach Neil McPhee said. “That is the kind of lineup that Jeff will have the most difficulty with.”
Sophomore Joe Van Meter, who accounted for VCU’s first run with a solo home run to right in the second, doubled home the fourth run of the third which brought in senior Trevor Smith. Smith came in with runners on second and third, but worked his way out of the jam without any further runs scoring.
“I just threw strikes and tried to get ground balls,” Smith (3-2, 3.18) said. “In that kind of situation if you keep it in the infield, no one is going to score. I love coming out of the ‘pen, my adrenaline starts going real quickly.”
Once again, the Huskies relied on their bullpen to keep them in the game until their offense could wake up, as Smith tossed a stellar seven innings, allowing five hits and just one VCU run.
And wake up it did in the seventh inning, as NU scored four runs on the strength of two home runs to turn a 6-4 deficit into an 8-6 advantage.
Tamsin blasted a one out triple off freshman Kyle Pelchy (3-2, 5.47) that bounced up against the 435 mark in right center field. Senior James Donaldson followed with a two run home run to right that clanged off the bleachers, tying the game. Pelchy then got two strikes on Frank Pesanello but the senior muscled an opposite field home run that clanged off the right field bleachers to give Northeastern a 7-6 lead. The solo home run was the co-captain’s 37th career blast, tying Tim Daley’s school record.
“It shows the incredible strength he has,” McPhee said of Pesanello’s home run. “That was a two strike pitch on the outside corner and he just reached out and drove it almost one handed.”
Pesanello, who started the season mired in a deep slump, has turned it on over the last several weeks and is tied with Donaldson for the team lead with eight home runs.
“I knew I was in the area,” he said. “I don’t look at that many stats, it’s pretty cool I guess,” he said of tying the career record.
The Huskies added their final run thanks to back to back ringing doubles by juniors Brendan Stokes and David Gustafson.
Northeastern (21-15, 7-7) and VCU (19-17, 7-7) will meet today for the rubber game of the series. Sophomore Les Williams (1-1, 3.32) will take the mound for the Huskies, while the Rams have not announced a starter. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.