The Stony Brook baseball team followed up its hot start to the season with a trip to face the top team in college baseball and defending College World Series champions, the Florida Gators. While the series was competitive for most of the weekend, Stony Brook left Florida without a victory. The three-game sweep dropped Stony Brook’s record to 6-4, while Florida continues to roll at 12-1.
Stony Brook faced a tough task in the opener of the series, as Florida sent the top prospect in the country, junior right-handed pitcher Brady Singer, to the mound. Singer, however, would surprisingly be the pitcher that Stony Brook fared the best against over the weekend.
The Seawolves first got to Singer in the third inning. Down 3-0 and with two outs already recorded in the inning, junior infielder Brandon Janofsky and senior infielder Bobby Honeyman laced back-to-back hits to get into scoring position. Junior infielder Brandon Alamo put the next ball in play and forced a throwing error to allow Janofsky and Honeyman to score.
Stony Brook took the lead the very next inning. After junior catcher Sean Buckhout hit a single to get on base, junior outfielder Dylan Resk smacked a home run to left field. Sophomore infielder Nick Grande immediately followed Resk’s shot with a bomb of his own, a solo home run to the left to give Stony Brook a 5-3 lead.
However, the lead would not be held for long. In the fifth inning, sophomore outfielder Wil Dalton hit a two-run home run to left center off of a pitch from redshirt-sophomore starter Greg Marino to tie the game at five. The home run would cost Marino a shot at his first victory of the season, and he exited the game one batter later.
The bullpen struggled to stop the Gators offense after Marino’s departure. Senior left-handed pitcher Cole Creighton came into the game in the fifth inning, and surrendered two runs in the sixth to give the Gators the lead for good. Redshirt-sophomore right-handed pitcher Aaron Glickstein entered in the seventh inning, and gave up another run to make it 8-5. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Nick Bonanno relieved him mid-inning and allowed the last four runs to score, including a three-run blast by Dalton.
The Seawolves’ inability to get their offense going was a determining factor in the second game of the series. There were only three innings where the Seawolves reached scoring position, and they were never able to capitalize. The first of these opportunities came in the third inning, when sophomore outfielder Chris Hamilton led off with a double to left field. Two batters later, Grande singled to center field to bring Hamilton home, but he was thrown out at the plate.
The missed chance to score could have been the first run of the game, but instead it became a momentum swing for Florida. The next inning, Florida got to junior starter Bret Clarke, working a leadoff walk and knocking back-to-back singles to take a two-run lead. The inning was the only mistake Clarke had in five innings of work, but it wound up earning him the loss.
Following the formula from the previous game, the Gators attacked the Seawolves bullpen after Clarke exited the game. The Gators got the best of senior reliever Kevin Kernan and freshman reliever Brian Morrisey for three runs each over three innings of work to build an eight run lead.
The last chance for Stony Brook came in the ninth, yet fell short as Janofsky led off with a single, but was stranded at second base. The game was Stony Brook’s first shutout loss of the season.
The finale of the three-game series was the closest contest between the two teams, and came down to one crucial error. Sophomore starter Brian Herrmann was effective for Stony Brook through four innings, but ran into trouble in the fifth. Freshman infielder Brady Smith led off the bottom of the inning with a double down the line in left, then Herrmann plunked senior outfielder Nick Horvath to give Florida runners on first and second with no one out.
Herrmann got a grounder to third for one out, but Honeyman’s throw to first failed and allowed two runs to score. The mistake broke a 1-1 tie and wound up being the difference in the game, as neither pitching staff allowed any more runs across.
The series sweep by Florida concludes a 10-game road trip for the Seawolves, who head home to begin a nine-game homestand that runs through most of March. The home opener for the Seawolves will be March 6 against Manhattan, who the Seawolves defeated in a wild 11-10 contest last year.