After winning the first two games in come-from-behind fashion, the Stony Brook baseball team blew a late lead in the final game of a three-game series against the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils from Friday, March 12 to Sunday, March 14.
The Seawolves entered the weekend with a 2-4 record, but came back in the ninth inning of game one to snap a four-game losing streak.
The Blue Devils started the scoring in the third, when Matt Bertochi scored from first on an error by graduate center fielder John LaRocca. Third baseman Jay Devito, who reached third on the error, scored on a ground out to short by designated hitter Noah Martinez. With two outs, center fielder Buddy Dewaine launched a home run to right center field to take a 3-0 lead.
On the mound for the Blue Devils, Andrew Braun cruised through the first three innings, striking out Stony Brook’s first five batters and allowing no baserunners in the Seawolves’ first trip through the order.
Stony Brook came out firing in the fourth, as LaRocca singled to start the inning and junior third baseman Evan Giordano followed with a ground-rule double. Fifth-year first baseman Chris Hamilton singled to center, scoring LaRocca. Giordano advanced to third and scored on a sacrifice fly from sophomore designated hitter Shane Paradine, cutting the deficit to one.
Graduate pitcher Sam Turcotte bounced back from the three unearned runs he allowed in the third and took the game into the seventh inning. With two outs and two runners on base in the seventh, sophomore pitcher Devin Sharkey relieved Turcotte and struck out Martinez to end the inning.
“That was a big hold in a high leverage situation,” pitching coach Tyler Kavanaugh said of Sharkey’s performance in a postgame press release. “I loved the presence he had from pitch one. That’s a good lineup looking to break open the game in that spot. Our club really fed off that performance.”
The Seawolves entered the top of the ninth still down 3-2 with 2-3-4 in the order due up. Giordano started the inning with a single to left field, and advanced to second on Hamilton’s sacrifice bunt. Paradine battled in a long at-bat before hitting a ground-rule double to left center field, tying the game.
With one out, senior catcher John Tuccillo singled to shallow center, plating Paradine from second to give Stony Brook a 4-3 lead.
“My first swing I got way too big and swung way too hard,” Tuccillo said. “I was trying to do too much. I stepped out of the box, looked at Coach Senk and Coach Martin, and they were saying, ‘middle, middle, middle.’ The next pitch I got a slider up and just put my bat on the ball and got the game-winning hit. It’s a great feeling.”
Sharkey pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning and came back out for the bottom of the ninth. After walking the first batter on four pitches, junior pitcher Kyle Johnson entered the game. The runner advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, but Johnson struck out the next two batters to earn the Seawolves’ first save of the season.
Saturday’s game followed a similar pattern, with the Blue Devils taking an early lead and the Seawolves coming from behind late in the game to earn a 9-3 win.
After Devito walked in the bottom of the first, Martinez hit a fly ball to shallow left center that caused trouble for the Seawolves. Making his first collegiate start, freshman left fielder Idris Carter nearly made a spectacular diving catch, but could not get to the ball in time, allowing Devito to score from first and Martinez to reach third with a triple. Dewaine followed with an RBI double to left field, giving the Blue Devils an early 2-0 lead.
Senior pitcher Jared Milch rebounded well after the rough start, pitching five straight scoreless innings and finishing the game with seven strikeouts and two earned runs in six innings. While the offense started slow, they managed to get on the board before Milch exited the game.
Giordano and Hamilton singled with one out in the top of the sixth before Tuccillo laced a double into right center field, scoring Giordano. Hamilton advanced to third on the double and scored on a wild pitch in the next at-bat, tying the game at 2-2.
The Seawolves kept the pressure on in the seventh as freshman second baseman Evan Fox and junior right fielder Johnny Decker started the inning with back-to-back singles. They both advanced a base on Carter’s sacrifice bunt and again on a wild pitch, scoring Fox to take a 3-2 lead. Giordano plated Decker on a single to left field.
Freshman pitcher Shane Helmstadt took the mound for the Seawolves in the bottom of the seventh with a 4-2 lead, and worked a quick 1-2-3 inning. The offense continued its barrage and gave Helmstadt some more room to work with in the eighth and ninth innings.
Sophomore shortstop Brett Paulsen walked to lead off the eighth and scored on Fox’s triple to the right center field wall. Fox scored on a single to right field by Decker, extending the Seawolves’ lead to 6-2.
The Blue Devils managed to put together a two-out rally to score one run in the bottom of the eighth and make it a three-run game going into the ninth, but the Seawolves were not done yet.
Giordano doubled to start the ninth and scored on a double to left field by Paradine. Freshman Jack Carr replaced Paradine as a pinch runner and advanced to third when Tuccillo hustled out an infield single to shortstop. Tuccillo stole second before Fox singled to left field to score both runners.
Helmstadt returned for the ninth and forced a game-ending double play, securing the win and a three-inning save, the first of his career.
After putting up three hits through the first five innings, the Seawolves finished with 15. Giordano, Decker and Fox had three hits each and Fox led the way with three RBIs.
“I don’t think I expected to have this significant a role right at the start,” Fox said in a postgame press release. “The coaches have shown a lot of trust in me. I’m just doing what I can to try to help the team win.”
Fox moved up to the leadoff spot for Sunday’s lineup as the Seawolves went for the sweep. The two teams switched roles, as the Blue Devils came back from an early 1-0 deficit to win 4-1.
Decker singled to left and Carr walked to lead off the top of the second. In an attempted double steal, Decker was safe at third but Carr was thrown out at second. With two outs, Decker scored on a wild pitch to give the Seawolves an early 1-0 lead.
The offense was mostly quiet for the rest of the game, but had a chance to do damage in the sixth. Giordano singled with one out before Paulsen singled and Decker walked with two outs. With the bases loaded, Carr hit a hard ground ball right back at the pitcher to make the final out of the inning. This missed opportunity would prove to be costly for the Seawolves.
Redshirt-senior pitcher Brian Herrmann was dominant in his third start of the season. Through the first six innings, Herrmann allowed no runs and only two hits. He returned for the seventh but allowed a leadoff single and was replaced by junior pitcher Nick DeGennaro.
The Blue Devils’ next batter, right fielder Dave Matthews, doubled to deep center, placing runners on second and third with no outs. DeGennaro struck the next batter out, but allowed a one-out single to catcher Sam Loda, scoring both runners to give the Blue Devils a 2-1 lead.
With two outs and a runner on third in the eighth, Dewaine hit an RBI single to right center and later scored on another double by Matthews. The Blue Devils took a 4-1 lead into the top of the ninth and Jake Neuman shut the Seawolves down to earn the save.
Despite ending the weekend on a sour note, the Seawolves improved their record to 4-5, due in large part to their late-game offensive explosions on Friday and Saturday.
“The past week the hitters have really worked hard during practice, and even during extra hours to get back to way we do things around here,” Giordano said in a press release. “I think our preparation coming into the weekend has really allowed us to be fully confident in our ability to get the job done and help the team win.”
Stony Brook’s next opponent, Fordham, fought back from a 7-2 deficit to beat the Seawolves 9-7 last Tuesday. Stony Brook will take a trip to Fordham to play the Rams at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, March 17.