Sophomore catcher John Tuccillo stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded in the final inning and final game of a Friday, May 17 doubleheader. Stony Brook had crawled back from a deficit to tie the game against the UMass Lowell River Hawks, and a single run would grant the Seawolves the 2019 America East regular season title. The two teams had battled all afternoon, neither one going down without a fight.
On a 2-2 count, Tuccillo lifted a fastball down the middle to the center fielder. Senior infielder Brandon Alamo tagged up and sprinted home, scoring the winning run and bringing the Seawolves their fifth conference regular season championship.
“Credit to UMass Lowell. Those were two hard fought games,” Head Coach Matt Senk said in a press release. “I’m extremely happy for our players, coaches, support staff and administrators for working towards this common team goal and making it happen. We are looking forward to celebrating our seniors and then turning our attention to being the best team we can be for next week’s conference tournament.”
Stony Brook entered the doubleheader needing just one win in the three-game series to clinch the regular season title on Senior Weekend, but UMass Lowell would not make the task easy. The River Hawks started the scoring in the top of the first off of Seawolves redshirt-junior starting pitcher Greg Marino. Freshman infielder Robert Gallagher led off the game with a single, then promptly stole second before coming around to score on a groundout. The River Hawks were active on the basepaths to their advantage in Game 1; Gallagher stole three bases in the contest alone.
The Seawolves struck back in the bottom of the first. Junior infielder Nick Grande recorded a leadoff walk, and junior first baseman Chris Hamilton followed with his seventh home run of the season on the second pitch of the at-bat. Later in the inning, Tuccillo drew a walk on a full count with the bases loaded, putting Stony Brook ahead 3-1.
The River Hawks got a run back in the second without a hit, and tied the game up in the top of the seventh with clutch two-out offense. Redshirt-junior infielder Mark Tumosa was hit by a Marino pitch and stole second while Gallagher was at the plate. Gallagher doubled down the right field line, bringing home Tumosa to knot the game at 3-3.
In the bottom of the seventh, Hamilton led off the Seawolves with a single through the right side, and junior outfielder Michael Wilson’s double to right center was deep enough to score Hamilton and take a 4-3 lead for Stony Brook. However, with men on second and third and no outs, a lineout, fielder’s choice and groundout stranded two important insurance runs.
Junior pitcher Sam Turcotte relieved Marino after seven innings, having allowed three runs on six hits and one walk while striking out four and throwing 115 pitches. The runners left on the base would instantly come back to haunt Stony Brook; with two outs and men on second and third in the top of the eighth, UMass Lowell junior outfielder Cam Climo singled to shallow center, allowing both runners to score and giving the River Hawks a 5-4 lead.
The game continued its rollercoaster ride in the bottom of the ninth. Down to the Seawolves’ final two outs, Wilson hit a first-pitch fastball through the right side. Alamo followed with another base hit — moving Wilson to third — and senior outfielder Dylan Resk drove in the tying run by sending the pitch to left field.
Turcotte remained on the mound for extra innings, allowing a leadoff walk but getting two quick outs after. Climo then put the River Hawks up again with a single to right field, driving in all three of Turcotte’s earned runs. The Seawolves went down in order in the bottom of the tenth, losing 6–5 and postponing their potential clinching for another game.
UMass Lowell struck first in the second game of Friday’s doubleheader, finding opportunities early. Senior pitcher Bret Clarke gave up a run on an RBI single to sophomore outfielder Vinnie Martin in the second inning, and loaded the bases with zero outs in the third. Clarke was able to wriggle out of the second jam with no further damage however, by getting a strikeout and an opportune double-play ball.
Stony Brook found itself in a similar situation in the bottom half of the frame. Alamo lined a ball past the diving left fielder with the bases loaded for a triple, clearing the bags as the Seawolves took a 3-1 lead. The team would score two more runs before the inning ended, seemingly in the driver’s seat for the regular season title.
Clarke’s control issues continued into the fourth, and after walking the first three batters to load the bases Clarke was pulled from the game with an apparent injury. While he only allowed two hits and struck out four, he walked a season-high seven batters. Redshirt-junior pitcher Aaron Glickstein entered in relief; after striking out the first batter, Glickstein gave up three straight hits and allowed UMass Lowell to tie the game at 5-5. Having batted around, Climo poked a two-out single through the infield with the bases loaded again, scoring two more.
Stony Brook tied the game in the sixth inning, and after denying UMass Lowell in the seventh had an opportunity to walk it off. Alamo roped a double to left center in his final home series wearing a Seawolves uniform, and Resk nearly ended the game with a home run that sliced just foul, but still moved Alamo to third on a base hit. Tuccillo stepped up to the plate and delivered the blow that ended it all as Stony Brook took Game 2 of the series 8-7. The Seawolves rushed from the dugout in rapturous celebration of their first regular season title since 2015.
The finale on Saturday, May 18 fell short for the Seawolves with nothing on the line. Junior pitcher Jared Milch held his own, allowing three runs on five innings of work while striking out six on 89 pitches, but UMass Lowell jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Senior outfielder Michael Young delivered the damage early, recording two hits and two RBIs off of Milch. The Seawolves’ lone run of the game was scored in the bottom of the third, when Tuccillo ran home on a wild pitch with the bases loaded.
The game was blown wide open in the top of the seventh. Stony Brook sophomore pitcher Connor Clark recorded two outs before losing control, walking three straight batters with a wild pitch in between that scored a run for the River Hawks. Junior catcher Ciaran Devenney avenged an overturned home run from Friday by launching a grand slam to left field, putting UMass Lowell up 8-1.
Despite losing the series, Stony Brook accomplished its main goal of winning the America East regular season championship and the No. 1 seed in the postseason tournament that comes with it. The Seawolves end the regular season with a record of 28-21 and a first-place conference record of 15-9, and displayed success at home, going 13-5 at Joe Nathan Field.