Junior third baseman Evan Giordano in a game against Hartford on April 2. He has a team-leading 1.054 OPS so far this season. ETHAN TAM/THE STATESMAN

Evan Giordano has put aside any doubts of his 2020 performance being a fluke.

The junior third baseman stole the show last season as the Stony Brook baseball team’s unquestionable breakout star. Due to the abbreviated nature of the campaign, however, it would be remiss to discount the potential impact of a smaller sample size, which also came into effect when he began 2021 batting .100 after the first six games.

Following a move to the top of the lineup, Giordano has only confirmed the legitimacy of his rise to starpower, carrying Stony Brook to a historic 15-1 start in conference play as the team’s leader in runs (27) and RBIs (26) while flashing his threat as a baserunner with seven steals. He has hit .436 since his 2-for-20 start.

Look no further than last Sunday’s matchup versus UMBC for an example of how Giordano’s threatening bat can decide games for the Seawolves. With Stony Brook trailing 4-2, the righty blasted a pair of back-to-back two-run homers to propel the Seawolves to a four-game sweep of the Retrievers.

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The first, a line-drive missile over the batter’s eye in center field, knotted the game at four apiece. During his next at-bat, he drilled a full-count breaking ball over the left field fence to crucially pad the Seawolves’ lead to three runs. Uncharacteristically for a leadoff man, Giordano’s 26 RBIs lead the America East, a testament to how strong the bottom of Stony Brook’s lineup is at getting on base.

After batting .229 as a freshman, Giordano turned heads when he started his sophomore season on a 10-game hitting streak and reached base in each one of the Seawolves’ contests in the shortened year. His .368 average was the ninth-highest in a single season in program history. Based on what Giordano has accomplished so far in 2021, he has proven that his 2020 numbers were more than just a hot 15-game stretch. It was a legitimate breakout into one of the most feared hitters in the conference.

Through the first 27 games of this season, Giordano is slashing .367/.462/.592 for a team-leading 1.054 OPS. No Seawolves batter has ended the year with an OPS that high since William Carmona’s 1.155 and Travis Jankowski’s 1.095 in 2012, the season when Stony Brook reached the College World Series.

Giordano’s improved eye at the plate is the key factor behind his sustainable success with the bat in 2021. He has simultaneously cut his strikeout rate down from 23.8% last year to 12.6% and increased his walk rate from 4.8% to 14.3%. These advancements have come while adjusting to the way pitchers approach him as his hitting reputation continues to blossom.

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“I have noticed that I’ve been getting more offspeed pitches in hitters’ counts,” Giordano said in an interview with The Statesman after Sunday’s doubleheader with UMBC. “I’ve really just been trying to stick with my approach, which is to stay aggressive early in the count. Even if there’s an offspeed [pitch], if it’s a pitch I can do damage with, I’ll let loose.”

The starter at the hot corner strung together an 11-game hitting streak earlier this season. He also recorded a hit in seven straight at-bats and reached base in nine straight plate appearances during the UMass Lowell series.

Stony Brook could not have asked for a better start to conference play, with the team now nationally ranked in a midseason Collegiate Baseball Division I poll for the first time since 2014. Giordano, just one of the Seawolves’ numerous key players, attributes his success to wanting to help his team win — something he has done time and time again recently.

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