Junior third baseman Evan Giordano after hitting his second home run against UMBC on April 18. He leads the team with a .367 average, 27 runs and 26 RBIs. ETHAN TAM/THE STATESMAN

The Stony Brook baseball team moved to 15-1 against America East opponents with a four-game sweep of the UMBC Retrievers at Joe Nathan Field on Saturday, April 17 and Sunday, April 18. Each contest was decided by two runs or less, but the Seawolves managed to pull their third sweep in conference play. 

While the Retrievers lead the America East in runs and batting average, Stony Brook impressively won all four games with timely hitting. The Seawolves opened the series with a 3-2 win in a back-and-forth battle. 

The Retrievers loaded the bases in the first inning with one out, but graduate pitcher Sam Turcotte limited the damage to only one run on a sac fly. UMBC junior pitcher Reid Celata maintained the lead as he retired the first eight Stony Brook batters. 

With two outs in the third inning, sophomore shortstop Stanton Leuthner evened the score with his first home run of the season. Leuthner had not played since the first game of the series against UAlbany on March 26 and entered the weekend with a .143 batting average.

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“What they don’t see in the box score is that even though I might not be playing, we were still working hard every day in practice,” Leuthner said in a press release. “Our coaches really worked with me personally, so that helped a lot.”

Turcotte settled in after the first inning but allowed another run in the fifth on a sac fly to junior outfielder Christian Easley to give the Retrievers a 2-1 lead. With only two hits through five innings, the Seawolves fired back in the bottom of the sixth. After lining a single to center, graduate first baseman Chris Hamilton scored from first on a double down the left field line by senior catcher John Tuccillo.

With two outs, freshman left fielder Evan Fox hit a fly ball to shallow center, but Easley dropped the ball and Tuccillo scored to go up 3-2. Turcotte pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning to finish his third straight complete game and earn his fifth win of the season. 

“I’ve been able to keep my pitch count down to keep me in the games,” Turcotte said in a press release. “It’s just been great. All my pitches have been working.”

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The Seawolves looked ready to run away with game two early after scoring four runs in the first inning, but they had to hold off a Retrievers comeback attempt to win 6-4. 

Stony Brook took advantage of UMBC miscues to put up its first four runs, with the Retrievers botching a potential double play and losing a fly ball in the sun that dropped in for an RBI hit by graduate center fielder John LaRocca.

The Retrievers cut the lead in half in the third. To atone for a throwing error in the top of the frame, Leuthner doubled to left before stealing third and scoring on the catcher’s overthrow to give the Seawolves a 5-2 advantage after four innings.

In the top of the sixth, senior pitcher Jared Milch allowed two runs on four straight singles to start the inning. Milch was replaced by junior Kyle Johnson, who was tasked with preserving Stony Brook’s 5-4 lead with runners on the corners and no outs.

Sophomore catcher Shane Paradine got the first out for Johnson when he caught UMBC senior infielder Christian Torres stealing second. Johnson struck out the next batter and recorded the final out on a dribbler right in front of the mound.

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The Seawolves got a run back in the bottom of the sixth when sophomore second baseman Brett Paulsen scored on a sac fly by Hamilton to make it a 6-4 lead.

Johnson retired the next nine batters he faced to finish the game, earning his second save of the season. In four innings, Johnson struck out four while allowing zero baserunners, lowering his ERA to 2.70 on the season.

Stony Brook returned to Joe Nathan Field on Sunday, needing more dramatics to secure the four-game sweep.

The Seawolves started the third game of the series with two runs in the first inning, as Paradine hit a two-run missile just over the fence in left center for his second home run of the season. Stony Brook threatened to break it open with bases loaded and no outs in the second inning, but only managed one run on a groundout by Leuthner to extend their lead to 3-0.

In the third inning, the Retrievers got two runs back on a two-out double to shallow left by Torres. The Seawolves wasted no time getting the run back, as Tuccillo launched his second home run of the season to make it 4-2. The lead was short lived, however, as UMBC sophomore outfielder Christian Maceda blasted a two-run home run to left center to tie it at 4-4.

Senior pitcher Brian Herrmann exited the game after he allowed a leadoff double in the top of the fifth, which marked the Retrievers’ third extra-base hit. Sophomore pitcher Devin Sharkey replaced Herrmann and allowed UMBC to take the 5-4 lead on a sac fly. 

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The Seawolves tied it in the bottom of the fifth on a double to right by LaRocca before Paulsen’s sac fly put Stony Brook back in front. Paradine added an insurance run in the sixth, but Sharkey gave up a game-tying two-run shot to Torres, who had a 5-RBI afternoon. After Sharkey walked the next batter, he was replaced by graduate pitcher Adam Erickson, who escaped the inning on a strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out double play.

Tied 7-7 in the bottom of the seventh, LaRocca lined a leadoff double to right center. In a 1-2 count, Paulsen looped a single into shallow right and LaRocca made his way around third to score the game-winning run.

“I had two strikes, and ultimately I just wanted to get him over,” Paulsen said in a press release. “I got the job done and we got the win.” The single marked Paulsen’s second walk-off hit of the year, with his first coming two weeks ago against Hartford.

The Seawolves completed the sweep with a 7-5 game four win highlighted by a gem from junior pitcher Nick DeGennaro and some late-game heroics from junior third baseman Evan Giordano, who leads the team with a .367 average, 27 runs and 26 RBIs.

Stony Brook got the scoring started in the second inning on a squeeze bunt by junior right fielder Cole Durkan that scored LaRocca. The Seawolves took a 2-0 lead on a sac fly by Giordano.

Through the first four innings, DeGennaro had allowed only two baserunners, but the Retrievers knocked him around in the fifth. The Retrievers strung together five hits, four of which were doubles, to score four runs and take the lead.

Leuthner singled to lead off the bottom of the seventh and he was driven in on a line drive home run to dead center by Giordano to tie it at four. 

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“I wasn’t quite sure it was going over because it was a line drive,” Giordano said in a postgame press conference. “It went over, and it was a great feeling to get the game tied up and get the energy back on our side.”

Later in the inning, Tuccillo scored to take a 5-4 lead when LaRocca beat out what would have been an inning-ending double play. With two outs in the eighth, Leuthner hit another single to keep the inning alive. Giordano stepped up to the plate and hit another two-run home run, this time a no-doubter to left field. The blast was Giordano’s fifth of the year and put Stony Brook up 7-4.

Entering his at-bat in the seventh inning, Giordano was just 2-for-9 on the weekend. He then seemingly flipped a switch and hit back-to-back two-run homers to lead the Seawolves to victory.

“Honestly, nothing changed,” Giordano said. “I was just sticking with my approach that I’ve had the whole season. I knew I was going to come around and get some pitches to drive.”

Following the rough fifth inning, DeGennaro retired nine of his next ten batters and returned for the ninth. Maceda hit a solo shot to start the inning but got the final three outs without further damage. In his first career complete game, DeGennaro struck out ten — tying his career-high he set last weekend at UMass Lowell — and recorded his fourth win of the season on 115 pitches.

“Tremendous job by Nick, just an outstanding effort,” head coach Matt Senk said in a postgame press conference. “Especially after that one inning that kind of got away from him and us, he hung in there and to get a CG after that is just outstanding.”

The Seawolves will take their 19-8 record on the road in a four-game series against the NJIT Highlanders on Saturday, April 24 and Sunday, April 25.

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