Sophomore Casey Baker’s bat is hot. But, after starting 0-for-2, it looked as if the first baseman’s bat was going to cool off and end his 16-game hit streak, the longest of the 2015 season for any Seawolf.
With a 3-3 deadlock looming in the seventh inning, Baker made extended the streak to 17 games. Baker hit a game-winning RBI single to right field, scoring junior Jack Parenty easily from third base to give the Seawolves a 4-3 victory over the second-seeded UMBC Retrievers in the winner’s bracket game of the America East Baseball Championship at LeLacheur Park in Lowell, Massachusetts.
Sophomore Cameron Stone came on for his second save in as many nights, getting out of a crucial jam in the eighth inning before setting down the regular-season runners up in order in the ninth.
After Stony Brook junior Tyler Honahan and UMBC freshman Matt Chanin were able to get out of the first inning unharmed, the second inning saw six runs cross the plate, three on each side.
The Retrievers were able to get to Honahan for the first time all season, as they were shut out when the teams met at Joe Nathan Field back on April 11.
Honahan was able to record two outs after walking a batter and allowing a base hit to begin the frame, but he was not able to get that third out before damage was done.
Sophomore Connor Hax shot a single up the middle to drive in the game’s first run, and then redshirt freshman Mitchell Carroll laced a single past the glove of Baker down the right field line to bring in freshman Jamie Switalski from third. Hax hustled around to score as well.
With the Seawolves in a hole, it was the bottom of the order that provided the spark. After freshman Andruw Gazzola singled and sophomore Jeremy Giles walked, another freshman, Bobby Honeyman, put down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners up.
Chanin threw the ball too far away from first, forcing Hax at first base to dive off the bag just to save a run.
With the bases loaded, the Seawolves had too good of an opportunity to blow, and senior Cole Peragine knew it. He brought in Gazzola and Giles with a single to cut the UMBC lead down to 3-2.
Honeyman then tied the game at three when he scored on a sacrifice fly by sophomore Toby Handley.
Neither starter allowed a runner to get past second base in the next three innings, keeping the score deadlocked.
After Honahan allowed two baserunners to reach in the sixth, Manager Matt Senk elected to pull his starter in favor of junior Chad Lee.
After allowing a single to load the bases, Lee was able to retire the next two batters and get out of the jam.
Lee then worked a perfect seventh.
Once the fans were done stretching, Parenty reached on an error with one out by senior Vince Corbi at second base.
Parenty did most of the work on the basepaths himself, advancing to second on a wild pitch and then stealing third. Senior Robert Chavarria then drew a walk before it was Baker’s time to shine.
The Ronkonkoma native’s game-winning RBI was his 29th of the season.
With the win, Senk’s squad advances to its second straight championship round through the winner’s bracket. The Seawolves will play the winner of the UMBC/Hartford matchup tomorrow at 5 p.m.