In Stony Brook’s first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since the magical run to Omaha in 2012, the North Carolina State Wolfpack defeated the Seawolves 3-0 on Friday afternoon in Fort Worth, Texas. With the loss, the Seawolves find themselves in the loser’s bracket of the Fort Worth Regional, where they will play the loser of Friday night’s TCU-Sacred Heart game on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. EDT.
For Stony Brook to advance to the Super Regionals, the Seawolves will need to win four consecutive games. A loss will eliminate them from NCAA title contention.
The pivotal moment of Friday’s ballgame came in the fifth inning, when Seawolves’ starting pitcher, sophomore Daniel Zamora faced NC State senior shortstop Logan Ratledge with a runner on first base.
Ratledge, who entered the game as a .330 hitter for the Wolfpack, had already flown out to the warning track in left field in the first and lined a single up the middle in the third against Zamora.
Being cautious against perhaps the best NC State hitter, Zamora pitched around the zone and found himself in a full count of three balls and two strikes. Ratledge fouled off five pitches in the at bat, which included two line drives that landed just foul, before ringing a fly ball off of the left field foul pole on the eleventh pitch of the at bat. The home run gave NC State a 2-0 lead from which the Wolfpack would not look back.
Ratledge’s homer was the lone costly mistake of the afternoon for Zamora, who threw 6.2 innings and 96 pitches for the Seawolves, giving up seven hits and striking out four batters in the game. Zamora also made a diving catch on a poorly bunted pop-up in the fifth inning.
The best chance to come back the Seawolves had came in the top of the sixth inning, when a single by junior leftfielder Jack Parenty and a pair of walks by senior second baseman Robert Chavarria and sophomore first baseman Casey Baker loaded the bases with one out. Unable to capitalize on the golden opportunity, freshman right fielder Andruw Gazzola hit into a 6-4-3 double play, ending the Stony Brook scoring threat.
In the ninth inning, freshman designated hitter Malcolm Nachmanoff came to the plate with two runners on base and two outs, representing the tying run, but the designated hitter grounded out in a 4-6 fielder’s choice to end the game.
The lone bright spot at the plate for Stony Brook was Parenty, who torched the Wolfpack pitching staff all game long. The Seawolves left fielder and America East Player of the Year went 3-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base, reaching base in all of his plate appearances. Parenty’s first inning stolen base was unconventional, to say the least. He sneakily scurried to second with the NC State pitcher standing with the ball on the mound without a pitch being thrown, totally unaware of Parenty’s mischief behind him.
Gazzola had a single and a walk for the Seawolves, while freshman third baseman Bobby Honeyman hit two singles in the game. Chavarria reached base on two occasions, getting plunked in the first inning and walking in the sixth.
The bulk of the Seawolves lineup struggled as junior pitchers Curt Britt and Will Gilbert combined to throw a shutout for the Wolfpack. Britt pitched 5.1, allowing four hits, while Gilbert pitched 3.2, allowing two hits. Each had a pair of strikeouts.
Stony Brook failed to get an extra-base hit in the game, which is not startling for this Seawolves team, which more often depends on a small-ball play style. On this day, however, the old-school, scrappy small-ball style was not working either, as manager Matt Senk’s team stole just one base and failed on its only sacrifice bunt attempt.
The Seawolves used two pitchers out of the bullpen in the game. Freshman relief pitcher Teddy Rodliff came on in relief for Zamora in the seventh inning, surrendering one run in one inning of action, while junior pitcher Tim Knesnik retired the only batter he faced in 0.1 innings pitched.
Tomorrow’s Fort Worth Regional elimination game can be seen on ESPN3 at 3:30 p.m., as the Seawolves look to keep their season alive.