Stony Brook Baseball traveled down to Miami to open the season, and the bats took advantage of the warm weather. The Seawolves launched six home runs en route to a series victory over Florida International from Friday, Feb. 15 to Sunday, Feb. 17. The final home run, courtesy of junior outfielder Michael Wilson, was a go-ahead three run shot in the ninth inning that clinched the series for the Seawolves Saturday night.
The opening series game of the series on Friday appeared to be a blowout game for the Seawolves, but the Panthers crept back in. Junior pitcher Adam Erickson made his Seawolves debut in a seventh-inning jam with the bases loaded and the Seawolves up, 7-5. Erickson defused the situation, striking out the first batter and escaping with just one run allowed on a sacrifice fly.
Stony Brook gathered momentum from evading danger and opened the floodgates in the eighth. The first three Seawolves reached base in the inning, and senior catcher Sean Buckhout delivered a two-run double that put Stony Brook up comfortably again. Senior outfielder Dylan Resk added a two-run home run in the ninth and sophomore catcher John Tuccillo singled home the final run of the game, giving the Seawolves a slugfest 13-7 victory on opening night.
Meanwhile, Erickson closed out the game with a strong first performance. After allowing a leadoff home run to FIU senior outfielder Lorenzo Hampton, Jr. the pitcher got six of the last seven FIU batters out and collected a three-inning save.
Stony Brook got its early lead on a series of home runs. Senior infielder Michael Russell got the first run of the game with a solo shot in the second inning followed by a solo blast by sophomore Tuccillo, two batters later. Ahead 6-1 by the sixth inning, Wilson launched a home run of his own to join the party.
The Seawolves also got a solid performance out of their top starter, redshirt-junior pitcher Greg Marino. Marino did not allow a base hit until the fourth inning and made one mistake to Hampton Jr. in the fifth inning that became a double down the line in right. Marino’s night ended after a leadoff walk in the sixth that came around to score, but he was very efficient in only throwing 74 pitches throughout his first outing.
The Seawolves found themselves on the other foot in the second game on Saturday. Ahead early in the game, the Panthers had a 6-4 lead and succeeded at holding off the Seawolves rally attempts. Stony Brook was down to their last out but had a big bat in Wilson up. Wilson delivered the crucial blow, launching a three-run home run off of FIU sophomore pitcher Will Saxton.
Stony Brook survived until the ninth thanks in large part to the job their bullpen did. Junior pitcher Brandon Bonanno took over for junior starter Brian Herrmann in the fifth inning and gave his team 55 pitches over three and a third shutout innings of relief. Sophomore pitcher Connor Clark came in for the ninth inning and induced a ground ball double play and a strikeout to close out the 7-6 win.
Herrmann, however, had mixed results in handing the ball over to the pen. The pitcher did not allow a walk throughout the game, and struck out six Panthers, but was unable to escape several innings after getting the first two outs. The biggest jam came in the fourth inning when five consecutive Panthers reached base with two outs already recorded. Freshman outfielder Jarrett Ford sliced a double down the left field line with the bases loaded to give FIU a 4-2 lead at the time.
The finale of the series did not wind up going their way, and FIU dominated early and often. Things got ugly for Stony Brook in the second inning, as FIU rocked junior starter Jared Milch in his Seawolves debut.
Milch began the inning with a four-pitch walk and gave up a double to Hampton which put runners in scoring position. Milch got the next two batters out but surrendered a run in the process on a ground ball to second. Then the FIU hit parade began.
Junior infielder Javier Valdes smacked a double to left-center that brought home a second run, Ford split another ball in the gap two batters later to bring in two more runs and junior infielder Derek Cartaya slapped a single to make it 5-0. The final blow came from junior third baseman Austin Shenton — a two-run inside the park home run that capped off a seven-run inning for the Panthers.
Stony Brook’s only runs of the game came in the fifth inning. Senior outfielder Brandon Alamo worked a leadoff walk and freshman infielder Evan Giordano collected his first career hit on a single to left-center. Senior infielder Nick Grande ripped a ball to third and the throw to get him out was offline, allowing both runners to come around and score.
FIU rattled off a long rally near the end of the game to further inflate the score and closed out a 13-2 victory, avoiding the sweep.
Stony Brook will take the series victory back home with them and prepare for their next road trip beginning Friday, Feb. 22 against Southeastern Louisiana. The Lions are 0-3 to start the season and will play a single game against the top-ranked LSU Tigers before hosting the Seawolves.