Sophomore infielder Nick Grande (right) and sophomore outfielder Chris Hamilton (left). Hamilton hit a game-winning home run during the eighth inning in the second game against UMass on May 25. ARACELY JIMENEZ/THE STATESMAN

The Stony Brook baseball team had an uphill climb to make it back to the championship round. Its performance in the first two games of the America East tournament showcased a team with strong pitching that needed an offensive spark, as the team scored two runs in 18 total innings.

That spark ignited on Friday, May 25, when the team drove home a combined 17 runs in back-to-back elimination games, including a game-winning home run from sophomore outfielder Chris Hamilton to send the Seawolves to the championship game. However, it faded in the finale on Saturday, May 26, as the team struggled to pose a threat offensively.

The Seawolves began their final three games with a rematch against the Maine Black Bears, who they beat to open the tournament. Redshirt-sophomore pitcher Aaron Glickstein made his first collegiate start, throwing a career-high 5.2 innings and allowing three runs on eight hits. He threw 102 pitches in the outing, 27 more than any previous appearance.

Stony Brook opened the floodgates on Maine quickly, striking for seven runs in the second inning. Maine sophomore pitcher Trevor DeLaite walked the first two Seawolves he faced and later plunked a batter before being chased from the game with four earned runs against. Redshirt-freshman pitcher Matt Geoffrion relieved him but couldn’t stop the bleeding, allowing three more runs before the inning ended.

The Black Bears forced in three runs against Glickstein in the third inning. Sophomore catcher Cody Pasic led off the inning with a walk, and junior infielder Jeremy Pena and sophomore infielder Hernen Sardinas both singled to load the bases. Glickstein surrendered back-to-back doubles to junior infielder Danny Casals and senior catcher Jonathan Bennett, scoring three.

Stony Brook battered Maine’s bullpen in the fourth inning. Hamilton started the barrage with a single through the middle, scoring a runner and putting Stony Brook up 8-3. Maine changed pitchers for the third time in the game and brought in redshirt-senior pitcher Jonah Normandeau, but he was unable to control the Seawolves’ momentum and gave up three runs to make it 11-3.

Senior pitcher Cole Creighton relieved Glickstein in the sixth inning and stranded a runner to escape the inning. Creighton gave up a solo home run to Sardinas in the seventh to make it 11-4, but sailed through the remaining innings to complete the save.

The victory over Maine placed Stony Brook in another elimination game an hour later against UMass Lowell for the right to play Hartford. Sophomore pitcher Sam Turcotte got the nod in the nightcap and lasted into the fifth inning, a season-high. Turcotte coasted through his first three innings of work, but ran into trouble in the final two.

After jumping out to a sizable lead, the Seawolves found themselves in a 5-5 tie heading into the eighth inning. Several Stony Brook runners had been left stranded in the sixth and seventh, but Hamilton was able to deliver the big blow in the eighth. He led off with a home run down the right field line to break the tie and give the team a 6-5 lead which it wouldn’t surrender.

Stony Brook’s start to the game was not indicative of needing a late, game-winning home run. The team ran into a lucky break in the first inning, with sophomore infielder Nick Grande on third and one out. Junior outfielder Cristian Montes flew out to right field, but the throwback sailed over the pitcher, allowing Grande to score an unearned run. In the second inning, senior outfielder Andruw Gazzola worked a leadoff walk and came around on Grande’s double to make it 2-0.

Gazzola got things going again in the fourth, opening the inning with a single up the middle. Junior infielder Brandon Janofsky moved Gazzola over to second with a ground out, and junior catcher Sean Buckhout singled through the left side to bring him home. Grande dug out an infield single to the shortstop to put runners on first and second, and Hamilton drove both home on a double to make it 5-0 Seawolves.

The River Hawks fought back, getting to Turcotte in the fourth inning. Redshirt-sophomore infielder Mark Tumosa had an adventure on the base path, beginning with a single to reach first. Tumosa made it to second on a balk call against Turcotte and then moved to third on a wild pitch. A passed ball allowed him to come home and score the first run of the game for the River Hawks, making it 5-1.

Things unraveled for Turcotte in the fifth. Turcotte recorded one out before head coach Matt Senk went to his bullpen, bringing in senior pitcher Teddy Rodliff. Tumosa singled two batters later, scoring freshman infielder Joey Castellanos to close the gap to one run. The infielder stole second and came home on junior infielder Russ Olive’s single and a throwing error on Janofsky. The Stony Brook lead was erased, and the game was tied at 5-5.

Stony Brook couldn’t strike in the sixth and seventh innings, but Hamilton’s eighth-inning home run got the job done. Senior pitcher Aaron Pinto, who came on in the seventh while the game was still tied, recorded the final nine outs to secure the victory.

Stony Brook’s tournament finale came on Saturday, May 26 against the Hartford Hawks. Hartford was the only team to beat Stony Brook entering the matchup, a 2-0 shutout on the second day of the tournament.

The Seawolves went to their ace, redshirt-sophomore pitcher Greg Marino, on just two days rest. Marino was effective, pitching five innings while allowing two runs to score. His offense, however, was unable to pick him up.

Stony Brook failed to record multiple hits in any of the first seven innings, looking much more like the offense from the first two days of the tournament rather than Friday’s edition. The team managed to get going late, but by that point Hartford had effectively put the game away.

The Hawks took the game over in the seventh inning. Already down 2-0, Seawolves senior pitcher Kevin Kernan allowed a leadoff single to freshman infielder Drew DeMartino, who was then bunted over to second. Freshman pitcher Connor Clark relieved Kernan, and induced a fly ball for the second out of the inning. Clark then intentionally walked senior outfielder Nick Campana to put runners on first and second, and sophomore infielder Zachary Ardito ripped a double down the left field line in the next at-bat to score two.

The damage intensified from there. Junior outfielder Ashton Bardzell scored Ardito on a double, and junior outfielder Ashton Bardzell singled up the middle to score Bardzell. Junior outfielder Chris Sullivan advanced to second on a balk, and senior infielder TJ Ward singled him home. The Seawolves needed one out to escape all of this trouble, but before they recorded it the Hawks’ 2-0 lead grew to 7-0.

Stony Brook made it interesting in the final two innings. Janofsky tripled home Gazzola to break the shutout, and Buckhout scored Janofsky on a sacrifice fly to make it 7-2. In the ninth inning, trailing 9-2 at this point, sophomore outfielder Michael Wilson launched a two-run homer to right field, bringing the score to 9-4. The rally ended there, however, and Hartford secured its first America East Championship in program history.

“Getting to play for a championship is a great accomplishment,” Senk said in a press release. “It is not easy to win a championship. I’m extremely proud of how we competed during the entire tournament and even though things didn’t go our way today, we proved that we are and can be a championship caliber team and program.”