“Our goal all season has been to repeat, which is tough to do in any sport, at any level,” coach Megan Bryant said on Thursday after her team’s opener against UMBC. Well, that tough goal was proven as such, as the Seawolves lost a heart-breaker to the Albany Great Danes 3-2 in ten innings, then could not rebound in the second game, losing 8-1.
Mother Nature also played a role in the games this weekend, pushing back all three sets of games.
“You can’t lose your focus,” Bryant said. “This team did a really good job of staying locked in.”
Stony Brook got on the board early Thursday, putting up four in the bottom of the first. After a Shayla Giosia single scored Olivia Mintun to start, Bria Green brought home Giosia and Jessica Zeilman with a home run onto the hill in left.
Danielle O’Neill tried to get some momentum back into the young Retriever team when she sent her 11th homer of the year over the center-field wall. Little did they know what was about to happen.
Stony Brook put up 12 runs in the bottom of the fourth, including two homers from Alexandra Pisciotta and another from Jessica Combs. Also, 11 of their 15 hits in the game came in this inning.
Pisciotta started the inning with a solo shot to center, getting back the run that Allison Cukrov gave up in the third.
Back to back RBI singles from Mintun and Giosia made it 7-1 in the inning. Zeilman then got two more RBI when she reached on an error by UMBC third baseman Kaelin Jackson. After Green scored Giosia with an RBI double, it was 10-1 Seawolves, the game was out of reach, and everybody had batted in the inning.
Pisciotta, facing a new Retriver pitcher in Nicole Casagrand, came back up to the plate and sent her second home run of the frame into the left center field bullpen, making it 13-1 Stony Brook.
The home team would then get three more in the inning.
Cukrov didn’t allow a baserunner in the top half of the fifth, ending the game 16-1, pushing UMBC to the brink of elimination. “This was a statement game,” Bryant said. “We really swung the bats well.”
Cukrov also pitched well, allowing three hits while striking out five in the complete game effort.
Stony Brook started strong again on Friday against their in-state rivals, putting a run up in the bottom of the first courtesy of Zeilman. Mintun got a one-out single and then while Zeilman was up, stole second. The right fielder then lined one through the right side of the infield and Mintun scored to go up 1-0.
With Mintun and Giosia on base in the bottom of the third, Green smoked a home run over the center field fence, upping the Seawolves lead to 4-0.
In the bottom of the sixth, the bases were loaded for Mintun, the senior third baseman. She hit a grounder through the left side of the infield, scoring Pisciotta and making it 5-0.
With the bases still loaded, it was Giosia. Flashback to 2013. In game one of the two the Seawolves needed to take the crown last year, Giosia smoked a grand slam to left to give her team a 4-2 lead, against the same pitcher she faced today, Brittany MacFawn.
She did the same again in this one, smoking one over the left field fence, clearing the bases and ending the game 9-0 in six innings, giving the Seawolves a berth in the championship game.
Cukrov was dominant yet again, only striking out a pair in this one but still holding a potent Albany offense to just three hits in the shutout.
Albany beat Binghamton for the second time, setting up a rematch on Sunday for the America East championship. However this time the roles are reversed, as it is Albany who needs to win twice to take the crown.
And they did just that, but were pushed to the very edge. Cukrov and MacFawn battled and both were up to the task. Cukrov finished with seven strikeouts through the 9.2 innings of work, while throwing 193 pitches. MacFawn did just as much damage, striking out four in her 10 full innings, throwing 148 pitches.
The Seawolves started the game strong, loading the bases with one out. They were unable to score though, as Green hit an infield fly and Pisciotta grounded out.
It was a game filled with great pitching and defense, with the pitchers leading the way.
In the top of the tenth, Combs broke the deadlock with one swing, smoking a home run into the left-center field bullpen, putting Stony Brook up 1-0. Zeilman would add a sacrifice fly, making it 2-0 and that looked to be a safe lead.
Not safe enough for Albany catcher Elizabeth Snow, however. With a 2-0 count, she hit a high fly over the left field fence by a mere couple of inches, propelling the Great Danes to a 3-2 win and deflating the Seawolves.
Stony Brook put up 10 hits in game one, but left 10 runners on base.
That deflation would carry into game number two, and Albany would start strong. “It was tough to get the team up for game two.” Bryant said. “These are 18-22 year olds. Pro athletes haven’t figured it out yet,” she added on coming back after a deflating loss.
Albany would get two runs in the top of the first, and those seemed to take all hope away from Stony Brook. Maggie Cocks singled in McFarland, and Cocks would score on a Marlin Solano single.
Albany scored four in the top of the sixth, and then two more on a Charlise Castro home run to right in the seventh, making it an insurmountable 8-0 Great Dane lead.
Green would add her tournament-leading third home run in the bottom of the seventh, but it was too little too late.
“We need to use this sadness to drive us over the summer to become bigger, faster, stronger,” Bryant said. “We’ll be back.”