The Stony Brook baseball team clinched the America East regular season title and home field advantage during the playoffs after winning two of three games against the UMBC Retrievers on Saturday, May 15 and Sunday, May 16. Although the series was shortened due to inclement weather on Sunday, it marked the Seawolves’ first series win since they swept UMBC at Joe Nathan Field four weeks ago.
“I’m extremely proud of our players, coaches, academic support, athletic training and medical staff, equipment and facilities staff and especially our athletic and university administration, which did all that was necessary over this challenging year to allow us the opportunity to earn this regular-season championship,” head coach Matt Senk said in a press release.
The Seawolves opened the weekend with an 8-7 loss, as a late rally was not enough to overcome their early eight-run deficit.
UMBC junior center fielder Christian Easley led off the bottom of the second with a solo home run to left field, his seventh of the season. Redshirt sophomore designated hitter Adam Schwartz followed with a double to left field and scored on a sacrifice groundout to give the Retrievers a 2-0 lead.
The Retrievers did most of their damage in the fourth, which started with Schwartz’ third home run of the year. Senior pitcher Jared Milch ran into trouble after allowing a single and hitting a batter before recording an out in the inning. A throwing error by junior third baseman Evan Giordano allowed a run to score and kept two runners on base with no outs.
Sophomore pitcher Josh O’Neill entered the game in an attempt to limit the damage, but the Retrievers added three more runs off him. One wild pitch and two sacrifice hits later, the Retrievers had a 7-0 lead entering the fifth inning.
O’Neill was replaced in the bottom of the fifth by freshman pitcher Quinlan Montgomery. In his collegiate debut, Montgomery allowed one run in one inning on a double by junior second baseman Luke Belanger to make it an 8-0 game.
The Seawolves started on the comeback trail with two outs in the top of the sixth after sophomore shortstop Stanton Leuthner was hit by a pitch. Junior second baseman Brad Hipsley entered the game as a pinch hitter and blasted a two-run home run to right field. Not only was it Hipsley’s first homer of the year, but also his first hit of the season.
Down 8-2 in the bottom of the sixth, the Seawolves made five defensive substitutions before their last licks in the seventh.
The Seawolves’ rally started when graduate first baseman Chris Hamilton drove in a run on a one-out single to center. Hamilton and Giordano scored on a double to right field by freshman catcher Ryan Micheli, who entered as a sub in the sixth. Leuthner then plated Micheli on a double to left field to cut the deficit to 8-6 with two outs.
Hispley kept the rally alive with a double to right field to score Leuthner and make it a one-run game. The Seawolves could not tie or take the lead, however, as sophomore left fielder Derek Yalon struck out to end the game.
The momentum carried over to game two as the Seawolves put together a dominant 13-1 win.
In game two, Hipsley made his first infield start since March 7 and drove in the first run of the game on a sacrifice fly in the top of the second.
The Retrievers answered in the bottom of the second when Easley scored an unearned run on a single to center by sophomore right fielder Michael Cilio to tie the game at 1-1. It was the only run the Retrievers would score off junior pitcher Nick DeGennaro, who retired 15 of the next 16 batters he faced.
DeGennaro picked up his seventh win and sixth quality start of the year after striking out seven and allowing no earned runs in seven innings.
The offense regained the lead in the fourth when Hipsley drove in graduate center fielder John LaRocca on a single to right field. It was all Seawolves from that point on, as they hit at least one home run in each of the next four innings.
In the fifth, sophomore catcher Shane Paradine hit a two-run homer to left field, his fourth of the year. Leuthner led off the sixth with his fourth home run of the year, making it a 5-1 game.
The Seawolves loaded the bases in the seventh on two walks and an error, and a run scored when LaRocca was hit by a pitch. Leuthner then hit into a fielder’s choice, scoring another run. Hipsley capped an incredible day at the plate with a three-run home run to right field, giving him five RBIs in the game and eight in the doubleheader.
With one out in the eighth, Giordano launched his seventh homer of the year to center field. Later in the inning, senior catcher John Tuccillo hit his sixth home run of the year to left field, a two-run blast to finish the 13-run output from the Stony Brook offense.
Freshman pitcher Andrew Ledbetter entered the game in the bottom of the eighth and in his second appearance of the year, he struck out three batters in two shutout innings to close out the win.
The two teams only played one game on Sunday due to a thunderstorm that started late in game one, but the Seawolves were able to earn a win by taking a 6-0 lead into the sixth inning lightning delay.
Giordano doubled down the left field line to lead off Sunday’s game and later scored on a sacrifice groundout by Paradine to take an early 1-0 lead.
The Seawolves padded their lead with a big two-out rally in the third inning. With the bases loaded, Tuccillo snuck a single past the shortstop to plate two runs. LaRocca followed with a first pitch double down the left field line to score another run. He and Tuccillo scored on a single to left by Leuthner and Stony Brook exited the five-run inning with a 6-0 lead.
Redshirt senior pitcher Brian Herrmann did his part to maintain the lead as he allowed only one hit in the first five innings. Herrmann allowed an infield single to Easley to start the bottom of the sixth, but the umpires stopped the game due to lightning in the area.
The game was paused around 3 p.m. and UMBC quickly announced that the game would resume at 3:35 p.m., but the weather worsened and the game could not restart on time. At 4:12 p.m. UMBC announced that Stony Brook had won the game and that game two would not be played.
Herrmann was credited with his first career shutout and his third win of the season. With the win, Stony Brook clinched its second consecutive regular season America East championship and will host the playoff tournament at the end of May.
At 22-9 in America East play and with the No. 1 seed locked up, the Seawolves still have four regular season games left to play, which will take place on the road against the Binghamton Bearcats on Friday, May 21 and Saturday, May 22.
“We are looking forward to finishing the regular season strong and then hosting what will be a very competitive conference tournament amongst ourselves and three outstanding America East teams yet to be determined,” Senk said.