Stony Brook Baseball entered Friday with no losses in the double-elimination America East Tournament at Edward A. LeLacheur Park in Lowell, Massachusetts. However, Stony Brook lost two games against UMBC and Maine, scoring a combined two runs between the two games, ending the team’s season.
AE Tournament Game 5: UMBC 3 – Stony Brook 2
No. 3-seeded Stony Brook Baseball matched up against No. 2-seeded UMBC on Wednesday. Stony Brook was held scoreless until the seventh inning. Stony Brook scored two runs late in the game to bring them within one run entering the ninth. However, the ninth was the only inning the Seawolves did not have a runner reach base, sealing the Retriever’s 3-2 win.
The loss was Stony Brook’s first of the America East Tournament and forced the team to battle its way out of the losers bracket, a more strenuous route to the America East Championship Game, if the team hoped to attempt to advance.
UMBC senior starting pitcher Michael Austin was the difference in the game. The senior tossed 5.1 innings, allowing no runs on five hits while striking out six batters. Austin was a big reason why Stony Brook stranded nine runners on base in the game.
Stony Brook junior left fielder Andruw Gazzola hit three doubles in the game but his team was never successful pushing him across home plate. The junior has four doubles in the first two games of the tournament and is now batting .475 with eight extra base-hits in May.
Stony Brook went with junior starting pitcher Kevin Kernan after he allowed one run against the Retrievers in eight innings on May 19. However, his start on Friday was not as successful. While he did not have a rough performance, he was outdueled by Austin. Kernan allowed three earned runs while walking one batter and striking out seven in his first loss of the season.
The Retrievers had already scored three runs before Austin was removed from the game in the top of the sixth inning. UMBC senior outfielder Andrew Casali led off the bottom of the first with a solo home run and reached the warning track on a fly ball in his second at-bat. He finished with a team-high three hits.
Stony Brook was able to score its first run of the game via the wheels of senior center fielder Toby Handley. The 2017 America East Player of the Year scored from first base following two errors made by the Retrievers. Sophomore second baseman Brandon Janofsky earned the RBI.
Sophomore right fielder Dylan Resk hit a towering solo home run off the scoreboard in left field to continue his team’s late rally. The America East home run leader collects his 13th home run of the season, becoming the first Seawolf to reach that amount since Michael Tansey had 13 in 2009.
Despite the loss, junior closer Aaron Pinto threw two innings of relief to keep Stony Brook within striking distance, but the team was unable to complete the comeback in the ninth inning. The team’s closer threw 10 innings in the last three games of the season, allowing just three runs.
Stony Brook took to the field less than an hour later to play Maine, a win or go home matchup for both teams. However, the slow-starting Stony Brook offense in the first game never got going in the second game of the day.
AE Tournament Game 6: Maine 3 – Stony Brook 0
Stony Brook found themselves at the mercy of the nephew of MLB 600-home hitter, Alex Rodriguez. Maine sophomore starting pitcher Nick Silva was nearly unhittable in Friday night’s game. He had a one-hitter entering the ninth inning before coughing up two hits to the Seawolves in the final inning. Silva did not allow a run while striking out 10 Seawolves on Maine’s way to the 3-0 win.
Silva had Stony Brook hitters guessing all night.
Handley led off the first inning with a double down the line. But little did he know his team would not get another hit until the ninth inning, and the double would be his last of his Stony Brook career.
Handley finishes his America East Player of the Year season with five home runs, 34 RBI, 18 stolen bases and a .342 batting average – three of which were career-highs and was one RBI short of tying career-high. He also ends his collegiate career with a 19-game hitting streak.
While Stony Brook was forced to play the game against Maine less than an hour removed from a tough one-run loss to UMBC, Maine had not played in two days. They showed just how well-rested they were when the team struck first in the bottom of the third inning. Junior designated hitter Jonathan Bennett hit a two-run single to left field to give the Black Bears a 2-0 lead.
Maine scored its third and final run of the game when junior catcher Christopher Bec hit a dribbler to Stony Brook third baseman Bobby Honeyman who made an inaccurate throw past the first baseman. The error allowed Maine to score from third base and Stony Brook senior first baseman Casey Baker appeared to hurt his hand or wrist attempting to complete the play.
The play allowed Maine sophomore shortstop Jeremy Pena to score. He finished with a game-high three hits.
Freshman starting pitcher Greg Marino was charged with allowing the two runs scored in the third inning but did not allow another earned run to score for the remainder of his start. Marino finished the game allowing two earned runs, walking six batters and striking out three in his first America East Tournament start.
Stony Brook ends its 2017 season with a 26-26 overall record and will not reach the America East Championship game for the first time since 2013.