The Stony Brook baseball team opened its season at the Lake Area Classic in Lake Charles, Louisiana over the weekend, but was unable to find success, losing all three games played.
Game 1: McNeese State 18, Stony Brook 2
Stony Brook opened the season on Friday night against McNeese State University after an hour rain delay. McNeese State had no problem taking down Stony Brook’s pitching early on, scoring seven runs in the first three innings of the 18-2 defeat of Stony Brook.
Sophomore pitcher Bret Clarke, last season’s America East Rookie of the Year, received the opening day nod on the mound. Head coach Matt Senk reiterated that Clarke is expected to be the team’s ace in 2017 with the graduation of starters Chad Lee and Tyler Honahan. However, Clarke struggled with his command in his first game of the season, allowing six runs and walking four batters in just 1.1 innings pitched.
Cowboys sophomore shortstop Nate Fisbeck blew open the game in the first inning with a bases clearing three-run triple. The sophomore also ripped a three-run home run over the wall of Cowboy Stadium in the fourth inning and had another RBI in the fifth inning to cap off a seven RBI afternoon. Sophomore outfielder Shane Selman also had five RBIs in the game in which five separate Seawolves pitchers allowed three or more runs.
After Senk named him as a player garnering consideration to be in the starting rotation, Stony Brook’s freshman pitcher Brandon Bonnano made his debut in the bullpen. He emerged from the bullpen in the final inning of the game and was the sole Seawolf pitcher to complete an inning without allowing a run.
The team’s offense was never truly able to put a successful rally together, as McNeese State continued to pour on runs. Stony Brook’s only runs came via sophomore third baseman Bobby Honeyman’s sacrifice fly, scoring junior outfielder Andruw Gazzola, in the second inning and when a run scored on senior outfielder Casey Baker’s RBI groundout.
Brett Clarke’s brother, graduate student first baseman Cody Clarke, transferred to Stony Brook from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi prior to the season and batted third for the team’s opening game. He finished the game with two hits and was the only Seawolf to record an extra base hit when he doubled to left field in the first inning. Unfortunately for the Seawolves, there just was not enough offense to go around on Friday to compete with McNeese State.
Game 2: Missouri State 7, Stony Brook 0
Stony Brook continued its slow start to the season during Saturday’s game against Missouri State. Senior starting pitcher Jordan Knutson was the catalyst in the Bear’s 7-0 shutout win over the Seawolves. Stony Brook’s record overall record quickly dropped to 0-2.
Knutson finished the game with just two strikeouts, but he held the Seawolves to just three hits across seven innings as Stony Brook’s bats remained cold. Knutson was matched against the Seawolves junior starting pitcher Nick Montefusco, who got off to a rough start, giving up three runs in the first inning. His night ended after he gave up six runs in the first three innings of the game.
Missouri State’s senior first baseman Justin Paulsen tore into Montefusco in the third inning, belting a three-run home run to extend his team’s lead. Paulsen finished one-for-three with two runs scored in addition to the big hit to open up the game.
But the Bears’ offense cooled off for the remainder of the game once the Seawolves bullpen was called upon. Six-foot-five-inch freshman pitcher Sam Turcotte, who had also been named by Senk as someone with starter consideration, relieved Montefusco in the fourth inning. Turcotte impressed in his collegiate debut, allowing just one run across four innings of work while striking out three.
Junior left-handed relief pitcher Cole Creighton relieved the freshman to start the eighth inning. Creighton, who had a 7.65 earned run average in 2016, showed early signs of improvement by finishing the last two innings of the game without allowing a hit.
Stony Brook only mustered five hits in the game.
Game 3: Rhode Island 6, Stony Brook 3
Stony Brook began the final game of the weekend against Rhode Island as it had in the previous two matchups: quietly. The Seawolves found themselves down 5-0 in the seventh inning when senior outfielder Toby Handley had the team’s hit of the weekend.
But he never even reached base safely.
What was originally ruled as a Handley home run was overturned into a bases-clearing single, but Handley never touched the bag at first base, and was subsequently ruled out. Three runs still scored and each RBI was credited to Handley, but Stony Brook never added to its run total and would ultimately fall to Rhode Island, 6-3. The Seawolves lost the final game of the weekend, as their record fell to 0-3.
Before the start of the seventh inning, the Rams played well behind junior starting pitcher Matt Murphy. Murphy threw six scoreless innings, continuing the weekend trend of opposing starting pitchers excelling against Stony Brook.
Junior Aaron Pinto was named Sunday’s starting pitcher despite serving in a bullpen role in 2016. In 2016, Pinto had a 2.54 earned run average and 32 strikeouts in 28 innings. He had successfully thrown three or more innings in relief on two separate occasions last season, so he was expected to be in the mix for the team’s three-man rotation this season.
However, in his first start of 2017 he did not play well. After already allowing one run in the second inning, Pinto surrendered four more runs in the fourth inning without collecting an out before being removed from the game. He did however, finish with four strikeouts in those three innings.
Rhode Island’s senior outfielder Mike Corin paved the way to removing Pinto from the game when he belted a three-run homerun to left field in the fourth inning to make a 5-0 lead. The home run was Corin’s second of the season.
Rhode Island won the Atlantic 10 Conference in 2016 and played into the NCAA Regionals where they were eliminated by South Carolina, who is ranked 5th in the nation, according to NCAA.com. This was a tough team for Stony Brook to contain, but the bullpen came in to calm things down and did a great job in relieving Pinto, keeping the game within reach.
Freshman pitcher Brian Herrmann pitched 2.1 scoreless innings from the bullpen, joining Turcotte and Bonnano among freshman pitchers to stand out this weekend. Junior closer Teddy Rodliff made an appearance toward the end of the game, tossing 1.2 scoreless innings in his first outing of the year.
Stony Brook will continue its tour of the south next weekend in a three-game series at Presbyterian University. The first game begins Friday at 2 p.m.