In their final Southern road trip of the season, the Stony Brook baseball team returned to Hammond, Louisiana for a second straight year and lost two of three from Friday, Feb. 28 to Sunday, March 1, completing the opening 10-game stretch with a 2-8 record.
Aside from an offensive explosion on Saturday, the Seawolves’ offense remained dormant, which was made worse as the rotation had its roughest starts so far.
Sophomore infielder Evan Giordano has been the star of the Stony Brook lineup so far, batting .421 with a team-high 16 hits, four doubles and 1.081 OPS. His 3-hit performance on Sunday extended his 10-game hit streak to start the year.
The story of the Seawolves’ season so far has been great pitching wasted on lackluster hitting. In the first game of the series, neither the arms nor bats showed up for Stony Brook in an 11-0 romp. Senior left-hander Jared Milch, who had dazzled in his first two starts, was rocked for eight runs on 11 hits in four innings. While he struck out a season-high six batters, the outing ballooned his ERA from 1.64 to 6.00.
Milch found himself in trouble immediately. The lefty gave up base hits to the first two batters of the game before striking out the next two and finding himself one out away from escaping the jam. Instead, he allowed a pair of 2-out hits, including a 2-run shot to Southeastern Louisiana freshman infielder Jacob Burke. All in all, the Lions scored four runs on six hits in the frame.
Southeastern Louisiana would put runners across the plate in each of the first four innings before tagging sophomore right-hander Kyle Johnson for three more in the bottom of the sixth.
Stony Brook’s offense consisted of three hits as they were blanked for the fourth time in the season’s first eight games. Freshman infielder Brett Paulsen had two of the Seawolves’ hits batting leadoff, while senior first baseman Chris Hamilton walked in all three of his plate appearances.
The Seawolves’ bats finally came alive on Saturday in an extra-inning showcase. Stony Brook jumped ahead off a pair of unearned runs, but senior right-hander Sam Turcotte had his roughest outing of the season, giving up four runs (three earned) in five-plus innings while fanning six. In the top of the sixth, sophomore infielder Brad Hipsley hit his first career home run at the most opportune time — a 2-out grand slam to put the Seawolves up 6-3.
Senior right-hander Brandon Bonanno looked to earn the 6-out save entering in the bottom of the eighth, but the closer blew the opportunity in the ninth when Southeastern Louisiana redshirt-freshman infielder Champ Artigues doubled to right-center, scoring both runners to knot the game at six apiece.
At the top of the eleventh, Stony Brook erupted for five runs. Hamilton put the cherry on top with his first home run of the season, a 2-run shot to right field that drove in freshman infielder Stanton Leuthner. In the 11-6 victory, the Seawolves scored more runs in one game than they had in the entire rest of the season (10). Freshman right-hander Brandon Lashley got the decision and won his first collegiate game after two scoreless innings in relief of Bonanno.
“It’s great to see the bats come alive, led by Brad Hipsley’s huge grand slam and Chris Hamilton’s clutch two-run homer,” head coach Matt Senk said in a press release. “Sam Turcotte gave us another solid start, followed by Adam Erickson, Brandon Bonanno and then Brandon Lashley getting the job done in extra innings. Overall, this was a terrific team effort.”
That firepower did not carry over to Sunday’s 5-2 loss when Stony Brook was held scoreless until the top of the ninth. Giordano launched his first home run of the season, a solo shot, after sophomore infielder Johnny Decker’s sacrifice fly put the Seawolves on the board. Freshman right-hander Josh O’Neill walked seven and gave up four runs in as many innings; he has given up 14 free passes in 11 innings.
Aside from Giordano, the rest of the Stony Brook lineup went 1-for-26 at the plate. On the season, the team is collectively batting .186 with a .504 OPS as opponents have a 1.08 ERA against.
The Seawolves return to New York to play their first home series from Friday, March 6 to Sunday, March 8, taking on the CCSU Blue Devils. A return to the confines of Joe Nathan Field could be what it takes to spark Stony Brook’s hitting.