Junior catcher John Tuccillo at bat during the Stony Brook Baseball team’s game against Fairfield on April 24, 2019. He scored the first run of the series for the team on Sunday during the seventh inning. EMMA HARRIS/STATESMAN FILE

A series of pitcher’s duels took place in Clemson, South Carolina over a 3-game series from Friday, Feb. 21 to Sunday, Feb. 23. Unfortunately for the Stony Brook Baseball team, all three games ended in a similar outcome — with the Seawolves taking a hard-luck loss due to continued struggles with the bat.

The Stony Brook rotation combined to throw 17.2 innings against the Clemson Tigers, allowing just two earned runs for a 1.02 ERA. However, the strong pitching was neutralized by a cold offense that was shut out for the first two games and mustered just one run in the series finale. The Seawolves outhit the Tigers in the final two games, but could not make the most of their opportunities as they stranded 26 men on base and fell to 1-6 on the season.

Senior left-hander Jared Milch took the mound for the first game of the series again. Although he gave up two runs on four hits through the first two innings, he eventually settled down and kept the Tigers off the board from there on out, allowing only three hits for the rest of his start. Milch had himself a quality start, lasting six innings while striking out four on 94 pitches. Through two starts in 2020, his ERA stands at 1.64.

Despite the strong start, Milch recorded the loss in his first decision of the season as the Seawolves’ offense lacked timely hitting. In the top of the fourth, Stony Brook loaded the bases with one out before graduate Cristian Montes grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to quickly end the threat. In the eighth, the bases were again full with one out, but senior first baseman Chris Hamilton and freshman catcher Shane Paradine went down swinging.

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The top of the ninth saw the exact same situation after freshman infielder Brett Paulsen reached on catcher’s interference with one out, putting the go-ahead run on first. Freshman outfielder Derek Yalon struck out and sophomore infielder Johnny Decker grounded into a fielder’s choice to strand the bases loaded for a third inning, this time ending the game.

The Seawolves needed to make the most of their opportunities with runners in scoring position on Friday given the absolute dominance of Clemson junior pitcher Sam Weatherly, who sat down 14 and allowed just two hits in six innings. The Tigers relievers were easier to hit off, but senior right-hander Chris Spiers was brought in to get the final two outs of the game, and he did his job for the save.

Saturday’s game was started by senior right-hander Sam Turcotte, who has impressed since transitioning into a full-time starter. Turcotte struck out seven in six shutout innings for the Seawolves on Saturday, lowering his seasonal ERA to 1.64. However, Stony Brook’s offense remained unable to put any runs across the plate, and the game entered extra innings in a scoreless tie. 

The Seawolves’ best chance came in the top of the seventh, when they had men on second and third with one out, but the following two batters both went down on strikes to quell the threat. In the bottom of the tenth, junior right-hander Brian Morrisey gave up a single, a walk and an RBI single to send Stony Brook packing with the 1-0 loss.

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“Clemson’s starting pitching has been terrific these first two games, as has ours,” head coach Matt Senk said in a press release after Saturday’s extra-inning loss. “Offensively, we will look to be more consistent in our approach as well as improve on our overall execution, especially situational and timely hitting to generate some much-needed run support for these quality starts we have been getting.”

Sophomore right-hander Nick DeGennaro continued his hot start to the season on Sunday; he fanned six in 5.2 innings allowing just one unearned run on two hits. Stony Brook scored their first run in the series in the top of the seventh when Paradine’s sacrifice fly scored junior catcher John Tuccillo from third base. The run tied the game at 1, but Clemson added two in the bottom of the eighth to seal the 3-1 win. Both runs were charged to senior right-handed pitcher Brandon Bonanno, who took the loss in his first decision of the year.

Stony Brook will play its final warm-weather series next weekend when they fly to Hammond, Louisiana to take on the Southeastern Louisiana Lions in a 3-game series from Friday, Feb. 28 to Sunday, Mar. 1. The Seawolves lost the series when these two teams played each other last season.

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