The Stony Brook baseball team had a rough day on Tuesday, March 8 when the LIU Sharks came to Joe Nathan Field. The Seawolves lost 10-6, and it was not nearly as close as the final score indicated. The pitching staff struggled mightily when it mattered most, and the lineup put some hits up, but to no avail.
Stony Brook (3-8) is now 0-2 at home.
Right-hander Shane Helmstadt got the start for Stony Brook, and it was almost over before it even started. Helmstadt’s first two starts of the season were really rough, with a 16.20 ERA in five total innings pitched on 10 hits. He never went longer than three innings in a start. This led to a much shorter leash from head coach Matt Senk, as he was ready to pull him early if need be.
And, he did.
Helmstadt struggled mightily with his command in the top of the first, walking two and hitting a batter. He also allowed an RBI single to start the scoring. After his second walk loaded up the bases, Senk pulled Helmstadt in favor of the lefty freshman JC Kiss, who issued back-to-back bases loaded walks to score the next two runs. All three runs were charged to Helmstadt, and LIU led 3-0 immediately.
Helmstadt’s ERA rose again to 19.06.
Stony Brook did answer right away in the home half of the first. Catcher Shane Paradine reached base on a dropped pop fly into shallow center field and advanced to third on the throw. Third baseman Evan Giordano drove him in with an RBI groundout to short, and Stony Brook was on the board.
Now trailing 3-1 in the top of the second, Kiss ran into some trouble after a drag bunt, a steal and a throwing error on the steal by Paradine. With the runner on third and less than two out, LIU shortstop EJ Exposito got the job done with a sacrifice fly to right, going up 4-1 on the unearned run.
In the top of third, the Sharks broke things open. First baseman Luke Turner singled home a run to make it 5-1. After a walk by Kiss loaded the bases, reliever Kyle Johnson came out to eat some innings and try to limit the damage. He could not; a wild pitch bounced into the bleachers to score another run, and Exposito struck again with a two-run double for the commanding 8-1 lead. All runs were charged to Kiss.
After that, Johnson settled in nicely, giving Stony Brook 3.2 innings without an earned run. In the bottom of the sixth, freshman second baseman Matt Miceli hit an RBI single over second base to drive in his first career run. Reliever Quinlan Montgomery then took the mound to relieve Johnson, but surrendered two more runs on three more hits. LIU had expanded their lead to 10-2 by the seventh inning stretch, and the writing was on the wall at that point.
However, to give Stony Brook’s hitters their credit: they did not waste their at-bats. They scored five runs on eight hits over the last four innings of the game to finish the night with six runs on 13 hits. Eight of their nine hitters in the lineup had a hit, and five of their hitters had a multi-hit game. This includes freshman catcher Chris Leone, who had the first two hits of his career, the first being a double down the left field line. Matt Brown-Eiring, who was the designated hitter for the game, had an RBI single in his last two at-bats to lead the team in the afternoon.
Stony Brook can not afford these short outings, as their ace pitcher, Nick DeGennaro, went under the knife on Wednesday. The exact injury was not specified by Senk, nor was the procedure.
“I can’t give you the specifics as to what exactly the injury is, but he’s hurt to the point where tomorrow he’s going to get surgery,” Senk said on Tuesday.
The Seawolves were also without their usual starters on the right side of their infield. Second baseman Evan Fox tweaked his ankle over the weekend, but Senk confirmed that he is feeling good enough to go by the next series starting on Friday. First baseman Brett Paulsen came up lame after running down the first base line last weekend, and was sat with a hamstring injury. They expect him to return over the weekend as well.
The pitching staff remained inconsistent, as relievers Johnson and Andrew Ledbetter performed well, while starter Helmstadt and bullpen pitchers Kiss and Montgomery could not. They struck out 13 batters, but walked six and allowed 10 runs.
“You give up 10 runs, you’re not going to win too many games. We’re still trying to figure things out with our pitching,” Senk said.
Stony Brook’s offense, though, is a step away. Eight out of the nine hitters recorded hits and five had multi-hit games, but they left nine runners on base and struck out nine times. Over the last five games, the Seawolves averaged 5.6 runs per game. In that stretch, Paradine hit 8-for-20 to raise his average to .277. Shortstop Stanton Leuthner has reached base safely in all 11 games and is now hitting .359 after two hits and a walk Tuesday afternoon. Giordano is also in a 6-for-17 stretch.
However, the pitching has to give. All four starting pitchers from last season are now gone, and the young guns thrust into this role have been unreliable.
Stony Brook’s Wednesday game at Fordham was canceled due to snow. The Seawolves will play a three-game series in Norfolk, Virginia against the Old Dominion Monarchs, comprised of a Friday doubleheader and a Sunday series finale. They will look to find answers on the mound while keeping their bats hot.