2023 Delaware vs William & Mary

CAA Baseball Matchups Of The Week: Northeastern Has Top 25 In Its Sights

CAA Baseball Matchups Of The Week: Northeastern Has Top 25 In Its Sights

First through fourth place in the CAA standings are separated by just 1 1/2 games, and there's only four weeks of play remaining.

Apr 25, 2023 by Briar Napier
CAA Baseball Matchups Of The Week: Northeastern Has Top 25 In Its Sights

Things are getting tight – really tight – in the Colonial Athletic Association baseball standings.

First through fourth place in the league are separated by just 1 1/2 games with four weeks of play remaining. 

Though that sounds like a lot of time to make up so few games, the reality is that the deadline to make a charge is arriving much sooner, rather than later.

And, if one of the country’s winningest teams (more on that team and what it’s up to below) isn’t even in first place, that only further proves that any path toward the top of the CAA totem pole isn’t going to be one without obstacles.

Postseason play arrives late next month, and with the CAA solidifying itself as one of the top mid-major leagues in America with five teams in the top 90 of NCAA RPI – one of just three non-Power 5 leagues with that distinction – the six teams that make it to the CAA Championship to compete for a chance to be the league’s automatic representative in the NCAA Tournament will have more than earned the right to be there.

Here’s a look at the matchups to watch across the CAA schedule this week, with many games throughout the conference schedule being streamed live on FloBaseball.

Delaware Vs. William & Mary

With the limited teams slated to make it to next month’s CAA Championship, it’s never too early for those in the mix to start thinking about whatever they can do to boost their stocks. 

William & Mary and Delaware each may be on the right side of the bubble at the moment, in fifth and sixth place in the CAA standings, respectively, but as little as one weekend of games can change the entire complexion of the league and which programs are in the best spots to make it to the postseason. 

Both the Blue Hens and the Tribe know this first-hand. As of Monday evening, both teams are on four-game losing streaks and are in danger of falling down the pecking order because of it. 

In a clash of styles this weekend, one team may continue to pile on misery to the other, and they'll have three games to do it.

Throughout CAA play, no team has batted in more runs than UD’s 140, led by Joey Loynd, who’s having a monster season. He’s one of two players hitting over. 400 in CAA play and is combining that efficiency with a CAA play-best 25 RBIs. 

On the flip side, with W&M, a stout rotation has been the Tribe’s bread and butter, as it holds a 3.58 team ERA, but it also has a league-low .217 batting average against conference opposition. 

Nate Knowles (2.62 ERA) is as solid of a top starter as they come, while the Tribe bullpen – led by right-handers Rojo Prarie and Carter Lovasz, who have combined to produce nine saves on the year – handles the late innings well and largely keeps things smooth for an offense that has its moments of inconsistency. 

That being said, senior Ben Williamson (.404 average, nine home runs, 39 RBIs in 2023) is in the hunt to be the CAA batting champion and must be respected at all times, if a team wishes to trot past the Tribe.

Towson Vs. Northeastern

Northeastern has a right to complain and feel a bit cheated right now. 

Only South Carolina and Wake Forest have more wins as of Monday evening than the Huskies’ 32, with one of those coming by way of a statement 12-3 victory over a ranked UConn squad in nonconference action last week. 

A sweep of Hofstra in CAA play over the weekend should’ve sealed the deal for Northeastern to get some love in the national polls, right? Maybe, surprisingly, nope. 

The D1Baseball.com Top 25 poll came out following Sunday’s games, and the Huskies were nowhere to be found, even with victories this season over teams in the poll, including UConn, Boston College and Duke. 

If that apparent slight is in any way a motivating factor for Northeastern this weekend against a Towson team buried at the bottom of the CAA standings, things could get pretty wild. 

The Huskies don’t have a midweek non-league game this week, leaving them to focus entirely on the three games with the Tigers, who haven’t won a CAA series all season. 

Towson will at least be well-prepared and somewhat knowing what to expect as it visits No. 13 Virginia on Wednesday, but Northeastern simply has been on fire lately, with no opponent proving capable of slowing it down.

The Huskies have won nine of their last 10 games, with freshman right fielder Cam Maldonado being a massive part of that surge. He had a pair of six-RBI days (against UMass on April 11 and UConn on April 18). 

Not just that, but the Huskies’ elite rotation continues to shine, too. Its six shutouts on the year are one behind the current national best, and another freshman (right-hander Aiven Cabral) leads the league in ERA at 2.19. 

It may be Senior Day on Sunday for the Huskies at Friedman Diamond, but those moving on from the program after this year can look back fondly, knowing the future of Northeastern baseball is very, very bright.

Elon Vs. Charleston

Considered to be the CAA’s preseason favorite, per the league’s coaches, Charleston’s season has instead been a bit of a mixed bag. 

The reigning CAA regular-season champs still are very much in the hunt to repeat, and All-American reliever William Privette has started to let loose and dominate over the past few weeks, having only allowed one hit and no runs across his past four outings (five innings total). 

But, as title rivals make their pushes – Northeastern is chasing 40-plus wins, while UNCW continues to do enough to stay at the top of the CAA standings, for instance – the Cougars are getting more and more indications they need to do more down the stretch, if they want to hold onto their crown. 

CofC is showing signs of its own push.

The Cougars have won seven of their last eight games (as of Monday evening) with the only defeat in that stretch coming to a ranked Coastal Carolina. 

Consider the three games against Elon as the test of whether such a solid stretch can stick around. 

The Phoenix are having an opposite past couple of weeks to the Cougars, having lost two CAA series in a row (to William & Mary and Stony Brook) and dropped to fourth in the league standings after playing for first place in the conference against UNCW just a few weeks ago

It’s not yet time to hit the panic button at Elon (a strong 13-7 CAA record helps with keeping nerves calm), but another subpar weekend, this time on the road at Patriots Point, could result in some alarm bells ringing. 

Getting outs via the rotation might be key.

Elon’s staff has the most strikeouts (190) in CAA play and is getting good work on the mound from right-handed freshman Justin Mitrovich, who started and earned the Phoenix’s only win in three games over the weekend against Stony Brook.