Stony Brook Baseball played host to conference rival Hartford this weekend at Joe Nathan Field to open America East play. The Seawolves scored 31 runs in the series to win two games to one.
Game 1 – Hartford 8, Stony Brook 7
When Hartford junior shortstop Ben Bengtson drove in the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth inning to give his team an 8-7 lead that would stick, the Seawolves were at a low point. It was the second consecutive game in which Stony Brook surrendered a lead of at least four runs.
“They are not making the pitches that they are more than able to make,” head coach Matt Senk said of his bullpen. “We made some mistakes [in spots] where they are more than capable of making good pitches. Unfortunately, it was against good hitters.”
The final inning comeback allowed the Hawks to exact revenge on the Seawolves, who eliminated Hartford in last year’s America East Semifinal via walk-off fashion.
Stony Brook sophomore starting pitcher Bret Clarke got the nod to start the first game of the weekend. He sailed through the first three innings of the game, not allowing a hit. However, Hawks sophomore outfielder Ashton Bardzell hit a two-run single in the fourth inning to bring his team within three runs. Bardzell also hit an RBI triple in the sixth inning, which was part of the three-run inning that forced Stony Brook to pull Clarke out of the game. Clarke finished the game allowing five runs (four earned) through six innings while striking out two batters.
The Seawolves lost despite walking 12 times, eight of which came against Hartford sophomore starting pitcher Billy DeVito. The Seawolves were able to rattle him, scoring seven runs before the end of the fourth inning. But the Seawolves’ bats were silenced once DeVito was relieved by sophomore pitcher Connor Lewis. Lewis was lights out in five innings of relief, allowing no runs and three hits.
Stony Brook was one out away from ending the game 7-5, but junior relief pitcher Teddy Rodliff extended the inning with a walk and an RBI double in the next two at-bats, putting the Seawolves in a dangerous position. Junior relief pitcher Aaron Pinto relieved Rodliff in a high-pressure situation and he went on to surrender the go-ahead run.
Game 2 – Stony Brook 10, Hartford 5
Hartford may have gotten its revenge for the 2016 America East Playoffs in the first game, but the Seawolves bit right back. Senior shortstop Jeremy Giles, the same player who eliminated Hartford in the America East Playoffs last season, sent a three-run run home run over the left field wall in the fourth inning.
“It definitely felt good,” Giles said. “I went up there with the approach to get a ball deep into the outfield so our guy could tag up. It is definitely nice to bounce back, after losing game one, to get a nice win.”
Giles’ home run gave his team a four-run lead and that was all that the Seawolves would need, as the Hawks failed to score for the remainder of the game.
“It was huge for Jeremy to come up in that situation,” Senk said of Giles’ home run. “All of his career he has done it, but it was good to see him do that for the first time this year and hopefully there are many more to come.”
Stony Brook freshman starting pitcher Sam Turcotte left the game in the third inning after a line drive struck him in the face. The impact, into Turcotte’s chin, made his teeth lacerate his gum, and blood drip from his mouth. He was immediately checked out by the team’s trainer and umpires to ensure he could continue to pitch. Trainers stopped the bleeding temporarily and he continued the game. He completed one out before being pulled from the game. Turcotte was treated at Stony Brook University Hospital.
“Everything that needed to be done for his safety was done prior to having him put back into the game,” Senk said. “He hung in there and he was super tough. He did the best he could after that.”
Junior pitcher Kevin Kernan relieved Turcotte and pitched the rest of the game, earning his first win of the season. He allowed no runs in 4.2 innings pitched, allowing just two hits and striking out five batters.
Kernan’s strong relief appearance was reminiscent of his clutch spot start in the 2016 America East Playoffs when he allowed two runs in six innings to help eliminate Hartford, despite never being in the weekend rotation last season.
Game 3 – Stony Brook 14, Hartford 0
The Seawolves carried the momentum into Saturday’s rubber match against Hartford, scoring six runs in the first inning. Freshman starting pitcher Brian Herrmann had the team’s best pitching performance of the season. He threw seven innings of shutout baseball, allowing three hits while striking out five batters as Stony Brook continued to pile on runs throughout the game.
“I felt I had a feel for my curveball today, and I was able to get ahead in counts,” Herrmann said. “I’m a very laid-back kind of guy. I just try to keep the good vibes going on the mound.”
Stony Brook made a statement in its 14-0 victory over conference rival Hartford. Herrmann was the star of the show, having already entered the game with a conference-leading 2.25 earned run average (ERA) among pitchers with a minimum of 20 innings pitched. His ERA dropped down to 1.74 following the game, further cementing his place as the most consistent starting pitcher on the team this year. The team improves its conference record to 2-1.
“We are excited to have him and he hasn’t disappointed. He has been terrific all year and he was terrific today,” Senk said. “The way he performed for us today is the way that he has performed all season.”
His offense backed him up immediately, scoring six runs in the first inning. Once junior outfielder Andruw Gazzola worked a walk, forcing in the game’s first run, freshman shortstop Nick Grande hit a two-run single to centerfield. Sophomore outfielder Dylan Resk hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the inning, his third of the season, to give his team a 6-0 lead. He led the team in RBIs on Saturday.
The Seawolves took full advantage of Hartford’s pitching woes. The Hawks entered the game with a team-ERA of above 10, scoring 31 runs in the series. Stony Brook drew 14 walks in the game, a commonality among Senk’s teams through the years. His team once again leads the conference in base on balls.
Stony Brook will look to ride this momentum into Tuesday when it plays host to Marist at 3:30 p.m..