It was the home opener at Joe Nathan Field on Tuesday afternoon and the Stony Brook Seawolves hosted the NYIT Bears. The defending America East Conference champions sought to continue their success at home from last year that led them to a 13-5 record at Joe Nathan Field.
However, the catalyst of the Seawolves victory was not even on the 2015 roster. In his first start of his Stony Brook career, freshman pitcher Bret Clarke held NYIT to one run on two hits in five innings while striking out five as he paved the way for a seamless 5-1 Stony Brook victory.
The Seawolves pitching, anchored by Clarke, held the Bears to just two hits in the game, as Stony Brook’s record improved to 2-5 on the season.
“What [Clarke] did today can definitely get him in the mix with what we are trying to figure out as far as starting rotations in weekends go,” Stony Brook manager Matt Senk said.
Clarke made his first two appearances out of the bullpen for Stony Brook, but Senk elected to go with the young freshman to start Wednesday’s home opener.
“If I can get out there and I can give my team a chance to win, I will do that,“ Clarke said. “Starter or bullpen, it doesn’t matter.”
NYIT junior starting pitcher Elias Martinez matched Clarke’s effort through four innings of work, allowing just one run on one hit. But that changed in the fifth inning.
Stony Brook crossed the plate with three runs in the bottom of the fifth to blow the game open. Martinez quickly found himself in trouble after the Seawolves loaded the bases.
Freshman designated hitter Joe Baran walked in a run. Then, junior center fielder Toby Handley hit a two-run single to give Stony Brook a 4-1 lead.
The following inning, sophomore second baseman Bobby Honeyman increased the Seawolves lead to 5-1, driving in a run on a single to right field.
Stony Brook’s sophomore first baseman Andruw Gazzola batted eighth in the lineup for the first time this season after batting second in the Seawolves’ first six games. Gazzola struggled this past weekend against Baylor, batting .083 with six strikeouts.
The sophomore responded to the demotion well, as he had two hits and two walks against NYIT.
When Clarke was taken out of the game in the sixth inning, the Stony Brook bullpen showed it was just as locked in. Sophomores Aaron Pinto and Teddy Rodliff each pitched two innings, with neither pitcher allowing a hit.
“Anytime you play good teams early in the season it’s only going to have you play at a higher level,” Senk said. “I don’t think it will be any different thing year.”
Stony Brook will head south this weekend for the third week in a row. This time, the Seawolves will head to Walter C. Latham Park at Elon University in North Carolina where the team will play Appalachian State, Elon and Bowling Green.