The dormant offense that the Seawolves carried through the South traveled up home with them. The team struggled to get going in the early stages of their home-opening series against the Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) Blue Devils, but they managed to break through when the opportunities came.
After winning the opening match and dropping the middle game, the Stony Brook baseball team secured their first series victory of the season by winning a rubber match on Sunday, March 8. The team improved to 4-8 overall, shaking off a tough road stretch on the backs of their pitching staff, some timely hitting and capitalizing on key errors from their opponents.
The opening game of the weekend on Friday, March 6 was a pitcher’s duel, as senior pitcher Jared Milch and senior pitcher Andrew Braun held off the bats for the Seawolves and Blue Devils, respectively. Only one run came across home plate for either side through the first five innings of the game, and it was an unearned run on a sacrifice fly in the first inning for the Seawolves.
Milch, in particular, was dominant on the mound. The left-hander had a no-hitter going through the fifth and wound up pitching seven innings of 2-run ball. Milch picked up seven strikeouts in the afternoon while walking two and allowing two hits. He earned his first win of the season after four tries, but for a moment it looked like it might elude him again.
The Seawolves entered the sixth inning with just a one-run lead and surrendered a leadoff single to senior outfielder Chris Kanios. Milch struck out the next batter, but senior infielder Chandler Debosse crushed a double down the left-field line that scored Kanios. Two batters later, redshirt-junior infielder TT Bowens knocked a single out into centerfield that allowed Debosse to come home and briefly give the Blue Devils the lead.
The Stony Brook offense has been struggling to get going so far this season, but they managed to answer right back and pick up their starter.
Sophomore infielder Evan Giordano led off the bottom of the sixth with a walk and promptly stole second base. Junior catcher John Tuccillo also worked a walk, and both runners advanced into scoring position after a ground ball from graduate outfielder Cristian Montes.
The stage was set for freshman infielder Stanton Leuthner, and he delivered a base hit—just over the outstretched arm of senior infielder Matt Bertochi— that scored both runners.
“I’m just trying to get the barrel out, and hit something hard,” Leuthner said of his at-bat in an interview with The Statesman. “Put it in play and it just worked out. I hit it hard in the at-bat before, didn’t really work out that way, but that’s just baseball.”
Back in control of the lead, the Seawolves pitching guided them through the final frames. Milch worked a clean seventh inning, throwing 101 pitches total in his outing, before handing the ball over to senior pitcher Adam Erickson. Erickson allowed a leadoff single to Kanios before retiring three straight and walked the leadoff man to start the ninth.
Senior pitcher Brandon Bonanno was brought in to close the game out, and immediately induced a ground ball double play. Senior infielder Buddy Dewaine attempted a bunt with two outs, and Tuccillo threw him out at first to end the game.
The second match of the series on Saturday, March 7, turned against the Seawolves quickly. Both sides struggled to get their offenses going, but the Blue Devils managed to break through first against senior pitcher Sam Turcotte.
Turcotte had cruised through the first three innings but allowed three consecutive singles to open the fourth. Junior infielder Jay Devito knocked the third hit, scoring the runner from second base for the first run of the game. A fielder’s choice and a sacrifice bunt allowed two more runs across, and the Blue Devils suddenly had a 3-0 lead.
Stony Brook got one back in the bottom of the fourth, but that would be all they could manage against senior pitcher Brandon Fox. The run was unearned, as Debrosse dropped a pop-up just beyond the infield that allowed freshman infielder Shane Paradine to reach base and advance to second. Leuthner singled to left, and sophomore infielder Brad Hipsley grounded a ball to first that brought Paradine home.
Fox managed to keep the Seawolves off-balance for the rest of the afternoon, however. The right-hander used 119 pitches to go eight innings for the Blue Devils, striking out six and allowing six hits without any walks.
The Seawolves found some life in the ninth inning when Fox was replaced by freshman pitcher Dominic Niman, who gave up a 2-run double to senior outfielder Chris Hamilton but couldn’t close the deficit. Junior pitcher Dylan Sabia entered the game to record the final out and earned the save in the Seawolves’ 5-3 loss.
The series finale looked like it was going to be troublesome early on for Stony Brook. Freshman pitcher Josh O’Neill wasn’t able to make it out of the third inning, allowing two runs in 2.1 innings pitched. O’Neill avoided major damage in the first inning, loading the bases but giving up just one run on a single from senior outfielder Dave Matthews.
Bowens jumped on O’Neill in the third, launching a solo home run to left with one out. A double from Matthews in the next at-bat ended his day.
Head coach Matt Senk went to his bullpen, bringing in freshman pitcher Brendan Disonell. Disonell had thrown just two innings this season prior to Sunday, but he turned in an impressive performance by going the distance and pitching the remaining 6.2 innings. The right-hander allowed just three baserunners in his outing, holding the Blue Devils scoreless and giving his team the chance to complete a comeback.
Stony Brook’s bats were lifeless through the first three innings, but their fortune changed beginning in the fourth. Hamilton led off with a single, and sophomore infielder Evan Giordano hit a ground-rule double to right field that put both of them in scoring position.
Tuccillo walked on four pitches to load the bases, and freshman infielder Brett Paulsen lifted a sacrifice fly to score the team’s first run of the afternoon. Paradine followed up with a fly ball to center that should have ended the inning, but Kanios dropped the ball and two more runs came in.
The Seawolves ended up scoring insurance runs in the fifth and sixth innings, thanks to some more hard-hit balls. Freshman outfielder Ellis Schwartz led off the fifth with a double and came around to score on a wild pitch from freshman pitcher Jack Carraturo.
Leuthner got on base in the sixth via a fielder’s choice and advanced all the way to third, setting up Schwartz to score him on a single shot to the gap in left-center.
The opportunities finally came through for Stony Brook, and they made use of enough of them to get the win. The offense isn’t in full gear still, but Senk believes that the weekend’s results were a good turning point for his team.
“Another tough day, we’ve had a tough start offensively,” Senk said in an interview with The Statesman. “But to just keep their confidence up and think about what it is that they’ve been doing well or not well … We talked about that this morning, I asked them to take that into batting practice. Probably the best batting practice we’ve had all year, and it translated into the game.”
The pitching staff has carried a heavy load for the team so far, and it’s done so with some significant injuries to the starting rotation. Senior pitcher Brian Herrmann has been sidelined since the beginning of the season recovering from Tommy John surgery, and sophomore pitcher Nick DeGennaro has missed the past two series with what Senk called “something in his arm.”
DeGennaro has been shut down while seeking a second medical opinion on his injury, but the team is optimistic that both pitchers will be ready to go in about three weeks.
The Seawolves will host a pair of midweek matches, playing Iona on Tuesday, March 10 and Merrimack on Wednesday, March 11. Both games will begin at 3 p.m. Looking ahead, the Seawolves begin conference play on Saturday, March 14 with a series on the road against Hartford.