By Hector Longo
---- — Coach Neil McPhee tried to make it feel like any other baseball weekend trip for his Northeastern Huskies.
And when Methuen’s Chris Carmain dominated Notre Dame at South Bend Saturday, allowing only two runs to the Irish over seven innings for a 6-2 Huskies’ victory, things seemed to fall in line.
Then Andover freshman Dustin Hunt took the mound Sunday, and suddenly things changed. Not that Hunt wasn’t used to it. He’s been the Sunday starter most of the spring.
But this one was different. The opposing pitcher for the Irish just happened to be Pat Connaughton, like Hunt a graduate of St. John’s Prep.
Connaughton was an Eagles’ two-sport legend and has carried the tradition to Notre Dame.
“I transferred in to the Prep from Andover High right after he graduated, so we never played on the same team, but I had heard all about what he had done there,” said Hunt. “He was the one name I knew. And he’s played really well -- in both sports -- at Notre Dame, too.”
Hunt vs. Connaughton — a St. John’s Prep alumni classic — was on yesterday, and the freshman from Andover got the better of the junior from Arlington, posting a 4-0 shutout win.
“It was a great day for us and a great weekend, taking two of three from them,” said Hunt, who went seven innings on 93 pitches, allowing seven hits and a walk, while striking out eight.
“I knew I had to have my best, and I had all my pitches working. When they put it in play, the guys played great defense behind me.”
Salem’s Josh Treff (2-for-4) provided the key hit in the Huskies’ three-run fourth, smacking a two-run single with one out and the bases loaded to break things open.
After the game, the two Prep products, who had never met, finally got to.
“I just told him he pitched great,” said Hunt.
What a spring it has been for Hunt, who moved to 4-0 and lowered his ERA to a sparkling 2.37. In 60.2 innings of work, Hunt has allowed 45 hits and 22 walks, while striking out 60.
“It’s been a good year, definitely, but I can’t say I expected it,” said Hunt, who after piling up the innings this spring has decided, with advice from his coach, to not play summer ball and simply work out and get stronger. He had originally planned on pitching for the Nashua Silver Knights. “Everything has gone so well since the fall, and the workouts in the winter. I’m just excited for the rest of the season.”
The Huskies have weekend series in the conference vs. Hofstra, James Madison and UNC-Wilmington before the Colonial Athletic Association tourney.
“Our record (18-22) may not show we’ve had the greatest year, but we’re starting to play real well,” said Hunt. “We definitely feel good about going forward into next weekend and the conference tournament.”