The Stony Brook University men’s baseball team continued their Southern road stint this weekend in Orlando, Florida. The Seawolves were swept by the University of Central Florida Knights, dropping all three games of the weekend.
Game One: UCF 7, Stony Brook 3
An extensive road stretch to begin the season has proved quite the challenge for the Stony Brook baseball team. In the opening game of a three game series against the University of Central Florida, Stony Brook suffered a 7-3 loss after giving up four runs in the seventh.
Although they dropped yet another close game in the late innings, the Seawolves can take solace in their strong start. Stony Brook jumped out to an early 3-0 lead with freshman Michael Wilson’s two run single, capping off an impressive first inning. That strong first inning is what drove UCF starting pitcher Robby Howell’s pitch count high, preventing him an extended stay; Howell was pulled after four and a third innings.
Seawolves starting pitcher sophomore Bret Clarke gave another solid performance on the bump. Clarke fought hard through five and a third innings, but was pulled after giving up the game-tying home run to UCF designated hitter Bryce Peterson. With the score sitting at 3-3, Clarke was pulled after 99 pitches and replaced by junior reliever Nick Montefusco.
The right-handed Montefusco ran into an avalanche of problems in the bottom of the seventh inning. In succession, the Knights reached base on a bunt single, a single and a walk, setting up the decisive at-bat of the game.
With the bases loaded and the runs his responsibility, Montefusco was lifted for junior Aaron Pinto. With nobody out, Pinto threw a wild pitch, letting the Knights break the tie and take a lead they would not relinquish for the rest of the game.
From there, UCF piled on; two singles and a sac fly pushed the score to 7-3 and from there, the Knight’s bullpen slammed the door on any comeback attempt, as Stony Brook did not come close to scoring another run.
Game 2: UCF 8, Stony Brook 4
For the Stony Brook baseball team, these away games have been a grueling test for a team that is heavily reliant on its underclassmen. On Saturday, the growing pains showed as freshman Sam Turcotte got roughed up early and often as the Seawolves fell 8-4.
After a solid debut start last week against Presbyterian College, Turcotte hoped to continue with another impressive performance. It looked as if Turcotte would get the run support a starter so desperately craves when Stony Brook took a 2-0 lead in the second inning on a pair of peculiar plays.
The first run was scored by freshman designated hitter Michael Wilson on a fielder’s choice and the second was scored on the rarest play in baseball, the balk.
But Turcotte struggled with command and UCF capitalized, running out the freshman lefty after three and a third innings. Turcotte got knocked around in the bottom of the fourth inning, effectively putting the game out of reach. In just three at-bats, the Knights drew even at three all, the hit that drove in the game-tying run coming from senior outfielder Luke Hamblin.
After Turcotte let up another UCF single, lefty Cole Creighton was summoned to try and stop the bleeding. But the Knight’s left fielder Kyle Marsh tacked on another run via sac-fly to give UCF a lead they would only briefly relinquish.
Senior Toby Handley gave the Seawolves life, tying the game at four on a home run down the right field line.
It all came apart in the seventh when another big hit by Hamblin drove in two putting the game away.
Game 3: UCF 3, Stony Brook 2
Stony Brook’s baseball team dropped the third of the three-game set on Sunday in heartbreaking walk-off fashion.
For the third straight game against UCF, the Seawolves offense gave the team a slight lead in the early innings. Although it was a lone run in the top of the first scored on a fielder’s choice hit by senior Casey Baker, it is helpful for a starter to take the mound with a lead before ever touching the ball.
The slight lead was not enough however, as freshman righthander Brian Herrmann gave up a leadoff walk to UCF senior outfielder Eli Putnam, who promptly stole second. Putnam was brought home one batter later by infielder Rylan Thomas on a single to right center field.
The Knights scratched another run across in the bottom of the second via a sac fly by senior Kam Gellinger. From there, however, Herrmann settled in and would not surrender another run. He finished his afternoon with a solid line of five and a third innings pitched in which he allowed two runs on five hits and a single walk.
In the top of the sixth inning, the Seawolves picked up their starter, as senior Toby Handley continued his solid weekend by working a lead off walk and eventually coming all the way around to score on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice. That sixth inning was Stony Brook’s best chance to take the lead for the remainder of the game.
With both starters going five and a third, the game came down to a battle of the bullpens, and UCF outlasted the Seawolves. In the bottom of the ninth, UCF capitalized on another leadoff walk that turned into a pressure cooker for junior right hander Cam Stone. UCF loaded the bases after that leadoff walk with an infield single and an intentional walk, setting up the moment every hitter lives for.
Bottom of the ninth inning, bases loaded, one out, a full count.
Gellinger knocked a single to centerfield and picked up and game-winning RBI, ending any hopes Stony Brook had of avoiding a sweep.
Now at 1-8, the Seawolves will play their first home games of the season this week, beginning with the New York Institute of Technology on Tuesday at 3 p.m. at Joe Nathan field.