Freshman Melissa Rahrich winds up for a pitch in a game against Hartford on April 26. The Seawolves swept the Binghamton Bearcats to secure the No. 3 seed in the America East Playoffs. MARIE MATSUNAGA/THE STATESMAN

 

 

The Seawolves picked up their first weekend sweep of a doubleheader since the first week of April at University Field on Saturday. The sweep improves the team’s conference record to 9-7.

Game One: Stony Brook 2 – Binghamton 1

Stony Brook outlasted Binghamton, the first-place team in the America East, in a hard fought first half of a doubleheader. The Seawolves were carried by freshman starting pitcher Melissa Rahrich’s strong performance in the circle and at the plate in a 2-1 win. 

She threw her ninth complete game of the season en route to earning her eleventh win.  The freshman flirted with a shutout for most of the afternoon before surrendering a solo home run in the top of the sixth inning. In her seven innings of work in the first game she struck out six Bearcats. Rahrich’s 137.1 innings pitched leads the America East.

“Definitely getting ahead in the count helps a lot,” Rahrich said. “I was able to throw drop balls on the corners that they were
just watching.”

A drop ball is the softball equivalent of a breaking pitch in baseball.

The Seawolves struck first when sophomore right fielder Katelyn Corr hit an RBI single to left in the third inning, allowing her team to take a 1-0 lead. Rahrich helped out her own cause by driving in the decisive run on a single to right field in the bottom of the third. It was the final time a team scored.

“These conference games are the most important part of our season,” head coach Megan T. Bryant said.  “Binghamton came in as the No. 1 seed, so we’re looking at a double elimination tournament. This was
a test.”

The biggest test for Rahrich came in the top of the seventh inning. Two Binghamton hitters reached base on playable balls in the infield when the team was down to their final out. This triggered a mound visit and discussion with assistant coach Jamie Kertes. The talk seemed to calm her down as the next batter hit a soft fly ball to left field, ending the Bearcats chance at tying the game. 

Binghamton came into the series averaging 4.8 runs per game, but just scored one run against Rahrich.  Her start lowered her earned run average to 3.52, which is the fifth-lowest ERA in the America East among qualified pitchers. 

“It was a tremendous day for this team, not only did we pitch it well, we played great defense and we did what we needed to do offensively” Bryant said. 

Game 2: Stony Brook 4 – Binghamton 1

Freshman left fielder Jourdin Hering’s bat helped the Seawolves ensure they would complete a sweep of the doubleheader. She had a game-high three hits and an RBI in the 4-1 win. The freshman’s lone RBI came on a single up the middle, increasing her team’s lead to 4-1 in the bottom of the sixth. 

Sophomore starting pitcher Lindsey Hughes left 13 Binghamton runners on base. In both the second and fifth innings Hughes wiggled out of bases loaded jams. However, both times Hughes went to the drop ball and forced weak ground balls that didn’t make it out of the infield.

Hughes tossed 6.1 innings, surrendering a lone run on a fielder’s choice in the second inning.  It was just the second game where Hughes allowed one run or less in five or more
innings pitched. 

“She took a little while in the beginning to get settled in, but she did a great job,” Bryant said. “She was spinning the ball well, but she did run out of gas there at the end.”

Bryant went back to game one’s starter, Rahrich, to close out
the game. 

“Before the first game, Coach K [Kertes] said it’d either be me or Maddy [Neales] and just to be ready,” Rahrich said. “They had me loosen up in the sixth [and told me to] just be ready to go in. Anything can happen.”

Rahrich came in with runners on first and second with a 4-1 lead.  She retired both batters she faced on soft pop flies to right field. Both were on fastballs that the batters were
behind on.

The freshman made her presence felt, not only as a closer, but at the plate as well. She had a two-run single in the bottom of the third, her only hit of the game.

“The whole weekend [created a] clean slate for everybody,” Bryant said. “We’ve gone into the America East tournament as a number one seed and not won it, but we’ve also gone in as a three or four and won the championship. It’s a clean slate but this definitely gives us momentum going into a big week.” 

Senior shortstop Lexie Shue made the most of her final home game. She hit her fourth home run of the season in the bottom of the fourth, extending her team’s lead to 3-1.

The sweep raises Stony Brook to the No. 3 seed in the America East tournament, which will be played in Binghamton, New York. The team will begin play in the double-elimination playoff on Wednesday, May 10 against Hartford.  The Seawolves beat the Hawks in all three meetings this season by an average of
seven runs.