Freshman infielder Johnny Decker bats against Sacred Heart University on March 23. On Saturday during the third game of Stony Brook Baseball’s series against Albany, Decker drove in two on a double to deep right field. EMMA HARRIS/THE STATESMAN

Coming off last weekend’s series win at Binghamton, Stony Brook Baseball returned home to take on an old adversary, the Albany Great Danes, in a three-game set. After splitting Friday’s doubleheader, the Seawolves got ahead early and hung on to take Saturday’s rubber match and the series victory, improving their record to 22–12 and an America East-leading 11-4 in conference.

“It feels great [to win the series] for the rivalry reason and to keep ourselves in a position to stay on top of the conference with some tough weekends coming up,” head coach Matt Senk said after Saturday’s game.

The start time of Friday’s doubleheader was pushed ahead two hours to 10 a.m. due to weather concerns. Stony Brook led off Game 1 with an infield single by junior shortstop Nick Grande, who came around to score three batters later. The Seawolves would tack on three more runs in the bottom of the second on RBI doubles from junior first baseman Chris Hamilton and senior infielder Brandon Alamo to take a quick 4-0 lead. Stony Brook effectively hit off of senior pitcher Dominic Savino early, who led all UAlbany starters with a 3.11 ERA entering the game.

“Whether it’s Savino, Albany’s best pitcher, or anybody, we preach scoring first and scoring early,” Senk said. “That’s key not only against someone very good like him but anytime we go out, that’s a big part of our game plan.”

The Great Danes would chip away at the lead, as Seawolves redshirt-junior pitcher Greg Marino was charged with three runs prior to exiting the game in the top of the seventh. Further compounding the issue was Stony Brook’s sudden inability to hit with runners in scoring position; they had left the bases loaded in both the fifth and sixth innings, with no runs to show for it.

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“I was really concerned that we were leaving a bunch of guys on base, and you know how that usually goes,” Senk said. “You don’t take advantage of your opportunities, it usually comes back to bite you.”

Determined not to make the same mistake again, the Seawolves loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh with one out after Grande was intentionally walked. Hamilton scored senior outfielder Dylan Resk on a sacrifice fly, and Alamo drove in two more on a double to deep left, recording his fourth RBI of the game in the process. Another insurance run in the eighth brought the first game of Friday’s doubleheader to its 8-3 final score.

The Seawolves started freshman pitcher Nick DeGennaro for Friday’s second game. After allowing two quick baserunners on a hit-by-pitch and a walk, Albany sophomore infielder Brad Malm left the yard on a three-run homer to left center. Stony Brook responded in the bottom of the first, as Grande again led off with a single before promptly stealing second. He was driven home by an Alamo double, and senior catcher Sean Buckhout scored Alamo on an RBI groundout to make it a 3-2 game.

In the top of the second, DeGennaro allowed a pair of two-out hits, allowing Albany to go back up by two. Junior pitcher Jared Milch entered in relief, ending DeGennaro’s day after 2.2 innings. Milch would keep the Seawolves within striking distance for the rest of the game, twirling 4.1 shutout innings and allowing only two hits.

Stony Brook did not get another man in scoring position until the sixth when Alamo hit his fifth double of the day to start the inning. He advanced to third on a groundout, then sprinted home after Albany sophomore catcher Josh Gurnack allowed a passed ball. Still, the Seawolves needed one more run to tie the game.

Down to their final out, the Seawolves sent senior infielder Brandon Janofsky to the plate, with Grande waiting on deck. Locked in a battle with UAlbany junior pitcher Joe Kruszka, Janofsky quickly fell behind 0-2 but worked his way back into a full count. After an endless slew of foul balls, the 13-pitch at-bat came to an end as Janofsky made hard contact with the ball, only to wind up cleanly in the center fielder’s glove.

“Brandon was doing everything he possibly could to get on base,” Senk said. “We needed more at-bats like that the whole second game. I thought we didn’t do the usual job that we do. Brandon’s at-bat was outstanding. It was hard-hit, and just tough luck for him.”

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Rain pushed back Saturday’s start time to 2 p.m. Stony Brook’s starter, senior pitcher Bret Clarke, was victimized by softly-hit infield singles throughout the top of the first but was able to get out of the inning allowing just one run as the bases were left loaded on a bang-bang play at first base. Grande began the game with a single for the third time in the series and would come around to score to tie the game at one apiece.

Albany pitchers lost control in the second inning, hitting three straight Stony Brook batters and coughing up two runs. The Great Danes got one back in the top of the third, but the Seawolves’ offense exploded in the bottom of the fourth, scoring four runs to take a 7-2 lead. Freshman infielder Johnny Decker drove in two on a double to deep right field, and Janofsky controversially scored on a fielder’s choice after dodging a tag, leading to much uproar from Albany fans and head coach Jon Mueller. Mueller would later be ejected from the game after further arguing with the home plate umpire.

The rain then began to pour, and Clarke was pulled in the top of the sixth after being charged with two more runs. Entering with the Seawolves ahead 7-4, redshirt-junior pitcher Aaron Glickstein came out of the bullpen and dazzled in relief, pitching 3.2 shutout innings and striking out three to preserve the Stony Brook lead and earn the save. Clarke earned the win, improving to 6-0 on the season with a 3.02 ERA.

“It just feels great to get a win and win a series against Albany,” Glickstein said after the game. “Winning any series on any given weekend, especially a conference series, feels good.”

Saturday’s game was the 100th between the two opposing New York schools, a rivalry Stony Brook leads 62-38. Up ahead for the Seawolves are two midweek non-conference games, a road match against the St. John’s Red Storm and a home battle with the Fairfield Stags.

“I mentioned to the team, we’ve got two big challenges ahead of us,” Senk said. “St. John’s is a terrific, storied program in the Northeast, and Fairfield’s having a very good year. We need these challenges as we get into the remaining part of our schedule.”

Tuesday, April 23’s game at St. John’s is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. at Jack Kaiser Stadium in Queens, New York.

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