Stony Brook Baseball bounced back from a 10-run loss to Yale on Wednesday by winning both games of a doubleheader against LIU Brooklyn at Joe Nathan Field on Thursday. Associate head coach Joe Pennucci coached both games in head coach Matt Senk’s absence while he was under the weather.
Stony Brook improves its overall record to 4-9 on the season.
Game 1: Stony Brook 15, LIU Brooklyn 11
Stony Brook trailed LIU Brooklyn by three runs at the start of the eighth inning of the first game of the doubleheader. The Seawolves put together a six-run inning to pull away from the Blackbirds and bring the game to a final score of 15-11.
Freshman third baseman Nick Grande had the go-ahead hit in the inning when he hit an opposite-field single to right field, allowing two of his teammates to cross home plate. Despite being just a freshman, Grande has been anything but timid when his team needs a big hit. He also hit a clutch double to kick off Stony Brook’s five-run rally in the eighth inning of Tuesday’s win over Yale.
“That’s all about our lineup, one through nine, going up and having great at-bats that inning,” Grande said. “The tenaciousness and mental toughness of our team really showed.”
The Seawolves were trailing LIU for most of the game after sophomore pitcher Bret Clarke, last season’s America East Rookie of the Year, got off to a rough start. Clarke allowed four runs to cross the plate in the first inning, but his team responded by scoring five runs in the bottom half of the inning. Senior first baseman Casey Baker had a two-run RBI in the opening inning, and finished with a game-high four RBIs.
But Clarke’s struggles continued as the game went on, allowing a total of eight runs in his first home start of 2017. His earned run average is now 11.57 in 16.1 innings pitched this season after his 2.19 ERA last season was second best in the America East.
“He has had a little trouble with command early on in the year but has gotten a little bit better,” Pennucci said. “Today, his stuff was just not as good as normal. But I’ll take my chances with Bret. I think he’s going to be fine.”
However, the Seawolves offense soared back to help overshadow a rough outing from their starting pitcher. Both senior centerfielder Toby Handley and graduate student first baseman Cody Clarke had sacrifice hits in the seventh inning to bring the Seawolves within three runs.
But the real action got started after sophomore catcher Sean Buckhout began the eighth inning rally by ripping a single up the middle to score a run. Freshman designated hitter Michael Wilson hit the game-tying two-run single past the second baseman. Wilson would be the go-ahead run on Grande’s decisive hit.
Sophomore outfielder Dylan Resk also tied Wilson for the team lead in home runs with his second of the year in the third inning.
Game 2: Stony Brook 1, LIU Brooklyn 0
Both teams’ bats cooled off in the second game of the double header, which was scoreless until the bottom half of the final inning. LIU Brooklyn walked freshman outfielder Chris Hamilton to load the bases for senior catcher David Real. LIU was looking to force an out at any base.
However, Real had several clutch hits in in 2016, and he put that on display with a game-tying home run in Tuesday’s game against NYIT.
“I definitely was surprised,” Real said of his reaction after LIU intentionally loaded the bases for him. “I didn’t try to do to much. I tried to put a good swing on a good pitch and he gave it to me.”
Real did not disappoint. He lined a single into left field that allowed the game-winning run to cross the plate. It was all Stony Brook needed in the 1-0 win over LIU Brooklyn to complete the doubleheader sweep. Because the third game on Friday was postponed to an unknown date due to snow, the Seawolves also earned a series sweep.
“I think they loaded the bases to force a play at any base,” Pennucci said. “But to Dave’s credit, he stayed on that ball pretty well and made it happen.”
The Seawolves stayed in the game because of strong pitching performances from freshman Sam Turcotte and junior Aaron Pinto. Turcotte started the game by not allowing a hit in the first three innings, but left in the fourth after loading the bases. Pinto stepped in and relieved Turcotte, getting out of the bases-loaded situation unscathed. He pitched the final 3.2 innings of the game, allowing just two hits while striking out six batters en route to earning the win.
LIU Brooklyn’s senior starting pitcher Nick Freijomil held Stony Brook scoreless for the entire game up until Real’s game-winning single. He pitched well enough to earn the win, allowing no runs and five hits while striking out four batters in six innings pitched.
But it was not enough to stop the Seawolves.
“Coming back from that deficit in the first game was huge,” Real said. “To win a close game like this, early in the season, after winning a couple one-run games, it’s just huge.”