Northeastern: Huskies Ready for a Year Under the National Spotlight

A well-deserved preseason Top 25 ranking has Northeastern eyeing big things this year.

Northeastern baseball

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Mike Glavine is a Husky through-and-through. Not only did he star for the Northeastern during his playing days, but he returned to his alma mater after a 10-year professional baseball career and has since taken them to new heights.

Since taking over the reins from longtime head coach Neil McPhee, Glavine has guided the Huskies to three NCAA regionals in eight seasons. He’s built a formidable Northeast recruiting pipeline, maintained a high standard of success, and, ahead of the 2024 season, has the program as a preseason Top 25 team for the first time in history.

It’s been an impressive rise for the Huskies — alongside significant growth for the university as a whole — and one that has expectations sky-high entering this year.

“When I took over as head coach and saw the trajectory of the university I felt like, hey, why can’t the baseball program capitalize on this and try to match the trajectory?” Glavine said.

“I think it really started with that vision and what the university has done, and then just trying to focus our efforts in our backyard and get local players excited about Northeastern and its brand.”

You don’t have to look too closely on the roster to see that impact. Golden Spikes Award Watch List outfielder Mike Sirota (Broad Channel, N.Y.), slugger Cam Maldonado (Wolcott, Conn.), and aces Aiven Cabral (Lynn, Mass.) and Wyatt Scotti (Barnstable, Mass.) all stayed in the Northeast and form a talented core.

The lineup and pitching staff are filled with high-caliber players from throughout New England. The roster as a whole is deep from top-to-bottom, setting the stage for what could be the biggest season in program history.

It starts with Sirota, a 6-foot-3 junior that has racked up preseason accolades and is a high-end MLB Draft prospect. All he did in 2023 was slash .344/.470/.674 with 18 home runs, 19 stolen bases, and a program record 73 runs scored. A 16th-round draft pick in 2021, Sirota opted to come to Northeastern and has had a significant impact.

“We loved the athleticism, the body, and the tools that he had — he looked like a baseball player,” Glavine said of Sirota’s recruitment. “We stayed on him and just tried to show him what he could do here and how he could thrive. Our program has an advantage where we’re not over recruiting — guys can come in and play and I think that was appealing to Mike.”

Mike Sirota (Northeastern Athletics)

Sirota hit third on Opening Day in 2022 and has logged 92 games over two seasons. Despite knowing what he was capable of, teams couldn’t figure him out as a sophomore — his power numbers surged while he consistently drew walks as well. Now, with even more attention on him, Glavine is confident it won’t phase his star.

“He’s been a super talented player for us and has a lot of attention on him this year but has been handling it great,” Glavine said. “I’m just looking forward to seeing him play this year and have a great season.”

Sirota’s blend of power and speed is something that defined the Huskies in 2023 — and will likely be a storyline again this time around.

Northeastern was one of just three programs to rank in the top 20 in both home runs and stolen bases last year, boasting three players that hit double-digits in both. For Glavine, it was a breakthrough season as the Huskies had struggled to find power in the past.

“We’ve always been athletic and fast but we’ve struggled to find power here,” he said. “Last year, it just really all came together for us … It’s a beautiful thing to get if you have it, but it’s really challenging to have that combination. I feel like we’ve got another opportunity to be able to really run and hit some home runs.”

Cam Maldonado (Northeastern Athletics)

A big reason for that optimism are the pieces Northeastern returns in the lineup.

Sirota is flanked in the outfield by Maldonado (.353/.434/.642, 13 HR), a freshman All-American, and Harrison Feinberg (.264/.373/.543, 10 HR). Two sluggers in first baseman Tyler MacGregor (.332/.416/.624, 18 HR) and designated hitter Alex Lane (.318/.427/.596, 16 HR) form quite the pair in the middle of the order, while the likes of Jack Doyle, Gregory Bozzo, Luke Beckstein, and Carmelo Musacchia provide plenty of depth in the infield.

The biggest loss was Danny Crossen — who posted a .952 OPS in a team-high 243 at bats — but nine of the next 10 in plate appearances return. Crossen’s role offensively figures to be filled with some combination of Musacchia, Doyle, and Pepperdine transfer Jack Goodman. Doyle is an intriguing breakout candidate after leading the summer Appalachian League in OPS (1.049).

The lineup alone is reason to be optimistic about the Huskies, but expectations are particularly high because it is paired with a pitching staff that is brimming with potential. Cabral and Scotti — alongside the now-healthy Dennis Colleran — are a formidable pitching staff and the depth in the bullpen is promising.

Cabral, a Freshman All-American, went 9-4 with a 2.58 ERA across 19 appearances last year. Scotti added a 6-4 mark across 15 starts, posting a 3.91 ERA in 76 innings of work. What makes that duo so dangerous is how they fill up the strike zone: They combined for just 27 walks throughout 160 innings of work.

“They are supreme strike throwers with three pitches and are ultra competitive,” Glavine said. “They field their positions well, they hold runners well, and they just give you a chance to win every time out there. They’re not going to walk guys, they’re not going to hit guys. It’s great to watch them pitch and they can throw any pitch in any count.”

Aiven Cabral (Northeastern Athletics)

Colleran, meanwhile, is back after Tommy John surgery. He showcased high-end stuff as a freshman, piling up 24 strikeouts across 22 innings as a freshman — the issue was he walked 22 batters as well. In his return this summer at the highest level — the Cape Cod League — Colleran showcased why he’ll play a big role with the Huskies. He fanned 18 across 13 innings for Hyannis out of the bullpen, a cool 32.1% K-rate.

“He provides us velocity as he’s 94 to 98 with a slider and change and has a bulldog mentality,” Glavine noted. “He gives us a different look for our opponents to see, going from a couple of pitchability guys to a guy that has velocity and will come at you in a different way.”

Different looks is the name of the game on the Huskies pitching staff. The bullpen is full of experienced arms that come at you from a variety of directions.

The righthanders include redshirt senior Jake Gigliotti, who turned in 66-plus innings with a 3.24 ERA across a variety of roles last year, and senior Michael Gemma, who cruised in the Futures League this summer. Other key pieces are Aidan Tucker and Cooper McGrath, a pair of graduate transfers from Tufts and Trinity.

“From the right side of the bullpen we have a little bit of everything,” Glavine added. “We have velocity, we have stuff, we have command, we have versatility, we have changeup guys, we have two-seam guys. I’m really excited about matching and seeing what we can do out there.”

The Huskies aren’t light on talented southpaws, either. James Quinlivan — who held opponents scoreless in nine of his 13 outings — and Marist transfer Jack Bowery stand out. Will Jones has taken a leap, per Glavine, and was borderline unhittable this winter.

Of course, in the words of Glavine, the Huskies haven’t thrown a pitch or played in a game yet. If you had to build a roster to contend for the CAA title and make a run in the NCAA Tournament, however, it’d look an awful lot like Northeastern.

“I think the question will just be there’s been a lot of attention on us and a lot of nice things said about us,” Glavine added. “We’re going to see how we handle some of this pressure, hype and everyone kind of gunning for us. I think we’re ready.”

Images via Northeastern Athletics