The Stony Brook baseball team has gone consecutive weeks without a series win after splitting a four-game series against the Binghamton Bearcats at Joe Nathan Field on Saturday, May 1 and Sunday, May 2. Still, there was more to like about the Seawolves’ performance this weekend than in others like against NJIT last weekend.
The weekend started poorly for the Seawolves as they were shutout, 10-0, for the second time this season and the first time in America East play.
Graduate pitcher Sam Turcotte had his roughest outing of the season so far, giving up five runs in four-plus innings. Binghamton freshman outfielder and Garden City native Tommy Reifler hit his first career home run in the top of the fourth to make it 5-0. Turcotte was then pulled for sophomore pitcher Josh O’Neill in the fifth after allowing a leadoff double and hitting the next batter.
O’Neill worked out of the inning with a double play and a strikeout to keep the score at 5-0. Turcotte’s ERA increased from 1.88 to 2.54.
After a clean sixth inning, O’Neill got knocked around for three runs on four hits in the seventh before being replaced by freshman pitcher Brendan Patterman. Before Patterman worked out of the inning, two more runs credited to O’Neill scored on a ground rule double by Reifler to extend Binghamton’s lead to 10-0. The Seawolves went down in order in the bottom of the seventh to end their fifth conference loss.
The blowout loss fueled a dominant offensive performance in the Seawolves’ game two win.
Stony Brook came out firing with three runs in the first inning, but the Bearcats got two back in the top of the second, starting with a solo shot by sophomore first baseman Kevin Gsell. In the bottom of the inning, the Seawolves increased their lead again. Sophomore right fielder Derek Yalon hit a one-out double off the left field wall and scored on a single up the middle by junior third baseman Evan Giordano.
With two outs, sophomore catcher Shane Paradine and senior catcher John Tuccillo hit back-to-back home runs to extend Stony Brook’s lead to 7-2.
“It’s pretty awesome to be doing that with him,” Tuccillo said of Paradine in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “I look at him like my little brother. I just try to lead him, take care of him and show him the right way. We have a great relationship. He’s one of my closest friends on the team. I love seeing him do well. It’s awesome to go back-to-back with him.”
Not done yet, the Seawolves led 10-2 after the third inning thanks to a three-run bomb by sophomore shortstop Stanton Leuthner, his second homer of the year.
In the top of the fourth, the Seawolves made three errors with two outs, allowing four unearned runs to score to cut their lead to 10-6. The Bearcats scored another run in the fifth on an RBI groundout by Gsell.
Stony Brook came right back in the bottom of the fifth as freshman left fielder Evan Fox belted his first career home run over the left field wall to lead off the inning. Sophomore second baseman Brett Paulsen followed with a triple to right center and scored on a single by Yalon.
“It was a 1-0 count, so I was trying to hit the ball hard. Good things happen when you do that,” Fox said about his first collegiate home run. “I knew I had it in me, but I don’t ever go for them.”
Paradine doubled off the right center field wall to lead off the bottom of the sixth and scored on a single by graduate center fielder John LaRocca to make it a 13-7 game.
Senior pitcher Jared Milch exited after allowing seven runs (three earned) and striking out two in six innings. Graduate pitcher Adam Erickson replaced him, and allowed a two-run home run to senior outfielder Daniel Franchi before being pulled without recording an out.
Junior pitcher Kyle Johnson entered with no outs in the seventh and pitched three scoreless innings to finish the 13-9 win and earn his fourth save of the season. After only recording two hits in game one, the Seawolves put together a season-high 18 hits. Leuthner was the only batter who had less than two hits, but he led the team with three RBI’s.
Sunday’s doubleheader followed a similar pattern with the Seawolves losing the first game and then bouncing back in the second.
Stony Brook looked to stay hot on offense and scored the first run of game three in the bottom of the second when Yalon drove in LaRocca on a two-out single. Fox drove in Tuccillo on a two-out single up the middle in the third inning to make it 2-0.
Redshirt-senior pitcher Brian Herrmann threw four scoreless innings, but errors helped the Bearcats take the lead in the fifth. Yalon dropped a fly ball in right that allowed junior shortstop Jake Evans to reach second with no outs. Reifler drove him in on a single to left before scoring from first on a double to left center by Franchi. A throwing error by Leuthner cost the Seawolves an out and another run, as Franchi scored to give the Bearcats a 3-2 lead.
Leuthner was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the sixth and reached second on a wild pitch. The Seawolves squandered the situation, however, as Yalon and Giordano struck out before graduate first baseman Chris Hamilton lined out to left to end the inning.
The Bearcats padded their lead in the top of the seventh with a three-run home run off junior pitcher Ben Fero, who relieved Herrmann with one out in the inning. The Seawolves couldn’t get anything going in the bottom of the seventh and lost their second game of the weekend.
“Way too many errors and way too many people left on base, and they’re aware of that,” head coach Matt Senk said in a postgame interview with The Statesman.
Similar to game two on Saturday, the Seawolves jumped ahead early in the final game of the weekend. Stony Brook scored four runs in the bottom of the second, punctuated by Hamilton’s 2-RBI ground-rule double.
Hamilton recorded his third hit and third RBI of the game when he plated Giordano on a double to left center in the fourth inning for a 5-0 lead. Hamilton’s six-game hitting streak was snapped in the first game of the weekend and went a combined 0-for-7 in Stony Brook’s two losses.
“I just had to get back to being myself, being more aggressive,” Hamilton said. Hamilton went 3-for-5 in game four, bringing his batting average up to .322 on the season.
The Seawolves were up big in game four again as they were in last week’s NJIT series. Last Sunday, Stony Brook had an early 6-0 lead, but junior pitcher Nick DeGennaro struggled to maintain it and exited the game after allowing five runs in five innings.
“I felt like I let my team down last week and it’s one of the worst feelings in the world,” DeGennaro said. “So, I prepared really hard this week to make sure it wouldn’t happen again.”
DeGennaro bounced back this Sunday by striking out seven in six scoreless innings against Binghamton, lowering his ERA to 3.86 and notching his fourth quality start of the year.
Sophomore pitcher Mark Alday replaced him in the seventh and loaded the bases by hitting one batter and walking two. His third walk allowed a run, but he managed to get out of the inning with a 5-1 Seawolves lead.
Alday was replaced in the eighth by freshman two-way player Andrew Ledbetter, who has appeared twice as a pinch hitter this season. In his collegiate pitching debut, Ledbetter worked around three walks to hold Stony Brook’s four-run lead.
Senior pitcher Brian Morrisey, who hadn’t made an appearance since Stony Brook’s first conference loss on April 10, replaced Ledbetter in the ninth inning. After Franchi hit a leadoff double, Morrisey retired the next three batters to secure the win.
While the Seawolves didn’t win the series, Senk was pleased with his team’s resilience.
“It’s not like you lose and you come back the next day. You have to come back in 35 minutes and that’s never an easy thing to do,” Senk said. “It’s a credit to our guys to be resilient and come back and win those second games each day to split the weekend.”
After a 15-1 start to conference play, the Seawolves had come down to earth the last two weekends, going a combined 3-5. Despite slowing down, Stony Brook is still comfortably in first place as the only America East team with single-digit losses. But with only twelve games left in the regular season and the America East tournament looming, the Seawolves can’t afford to slow down much more.
“I’m confident that if we can do what we need to do over the last dozen games that we’ll be playing our best baseball when the tournament comes around, if we’re in it,” Senk said.
The Seawolves will play their last four regular season home games against the NJIT Highlanders on Saturday, May 8 and Sunday, May 9 at Joe Nathan Field.