Down to its final six outs and trailing by five runs, the Northeastern baseball team wasn’t going to concede the Colonial Athletic Association championship — and the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament that went with it.
But the third-seeded Huskies’ rally fell just short, 5-4, as they fell to top-seeded North Carolina Wilmington in Mount Pleasant, S.C.
The Huskies (44-14), who were playing in their second straight CAA title game and fifth in six years, await Monday’s NCAA Tournament selection announcement (noon, ESPN2).
The Huskies loaded the bases in the eighth and got on the board when Harrison Feinberg walked with the bases loaded.
After a walk and a single to lead off the ninth, Mike Sirota blasted a three-run homer to right field. But UNCW reliever Brett Banks recovered to get the final three outs.
Zane Taylor (3⅔ innings, 2 hits, 1 strikeout) and Ethan Chenault (4 innings, 4 hits, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts) combined to take a shutout into the eighth and the Seahawks built an early 3-0 cushion thanks to first-inning home runs from Dillon Lifrieri and Tanner Thach, chasing Huskies starter Jack Beauchesne after just one out. Third baseman Jac Croom launched a two-run homer in the sixth inning for UNCW.
Sirota finished 3 for 5 with two runs and three RBIs, while Cam Maldonado and Alex Lane, a St. John’s Prep product from Andover, had two hits apiece.
Earlier in the day, the Huskies rode Danny Crossen’s five RBIs past Elon, 14-8, to escape the consolation bracket with a 16-hit performance. Crossen, a redshirt senior from Cotuit, finished 4 for 6 with a home run, Wellesley’s Spenser Smith was 3 for 4 with two doubles and two RBIs, Maldonado launched a three-run homer, and Paxton’s Jake Gigliotti improved to 8-0 before giving way to Lynn’s Aiven Cabral for the final five outs.
Brendan Kurie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.