Friscia's clutch single seals comeback victory for Hofstra
Vito Friscia hit a base-clearing single in the bottom of the seventh inning that completed Hofstra baseball’s 6-4 comeback win over Northeastern University on Saturday afternoon at University Field.
Behind Friscia and relief pitcher Michael James, who threw three perfect innings of relief, the Pride snapped Northeastern’s 11-game winning streak. The Pride improved to 22-17 overall and 11-9 in Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) matchups. The Huskies dropped to 13-4 in CAA play and 29-14 overall.
“I thought it was a really good Division I game,” said Hofstra head coach John Russo.
“We showed a lot of character being down in the game. I thought [Matt Weissheier] really battled and got through some hiccups that we had defensively,” Russo said. “Then we slowly but surely started to chip away.”
The Pride found themselves quickly down 4-0 because of Northeastern’s Zach Perry.
In the first, Huskies leadoff hitter Charlie McConnell singled and Ian Fair doubled to put runners on second and third. Weissheier was able to get the next two batters out, but then gave up a two-run single to Perry to put the Huskies on the board.
Two innings later, Daniel Page booted the ball at third for an error that put runners on second and first for the Huskies. Perry came up to bat again and this time ripped a double down the right field line for two more RBIs.
But Perry’s four RBI day wasn’t enough to lead his team to victory. Hofstra’s comeback began in the bottom of the fourth inning when Teddy Cillis hit a leadoff home run to begin chipping away at Northeastern’s lead.
It was during the fourth inning that Russo had a back and forth exchange with home plate umpire Don LaValley over discrepancies in strike calls against the Huskies versus against the Pride. Although Russo received a warning, his frustration with the calls caused LaValley to buckle down and establish a more solid strike zone.
“It just didn’t feel like there was a zone that you knew what was going to be a ball or a strike for both halves,” Russo said. “But I thought Don [LaValley] was really good in the last five innings and that he really locked in.”
An inning after Cillis’ leadoff homer, Steven Foster hit one of his own to cut the Huskies lead in half.
Northeastern starter Brian Christian retired the next six batters, but Matt Siedem’s double to left chased him from the game, with Foster coming up to bat for the Pride. Christian finished the afternoon with six strikeouts, two walks and two allowed runs.
Kyle Murphy came on in relief and walked Foster before giving up a single to Mikey Riesner, which loaded the bases. Riesner extended his hitting streak to 10 games with the single. Friscia then laced a single to center field that scored Siedem and Foster. Huskies centerfielder Mason Koppens overran the ball, which allowed Riesner to cross the plate and advanced Friscia to second.
James entered the game in relief of Weissheier in the sixth, striking out three to earn his first victory of his two-year Hofstra career.
“Matty [Weissheier] grinded out five innings and that’s just huge because we didn’t have to blow up the bullpen early,” James said. “I think I’ve had good command all season, but it’s always been a two-pitch game for me. I thought the difference today was that I had all three pitches going and I was able to get ahead with the slider.”
Weissheier allowed four runs (three earned) and seven hits in five innings.
Chris Weiss closed out the game for the Pride in the ninth. After a leadoff walk, he got a fly out and double play for his eighth save of the season. He is now ranked No. 2 in Hofstra’s single season record and has tied the record for career saves with 14.
Rob Weissheier helped to lead the Pride’s offense with two doubles and a single on the afternoon. Riesner and Siedem each had two hits.
Hofstra and Northeastern will close out the series on Sunday. First pitch is at 1 p.m.