Second baseman Evan Fox running the bases in the Sacred Heart game on March 2. Fox drove a two-run homer to left field during the game against the Maine Black Bears. ETHAN TAM/THE STATESMAN

With a battle for early-season supremacy on the line, the Stony Brook baseball team had a successful weekend up in Orono, bouncing back from an opening game loss to take two out of three contests against the Maine Black Bears from Friday, March 25 to Sunday, March 27.

The bats were alive and well all weekend long, leading the way as the Seawolves won their second straight conference series and captured first place in the America East. Stony Brook (9-13, 5-1 AE) is living up to its preseason hype so far, while Maine (7-13, 4-2 AE) could not keep up last weekend’s momentum.

Both teams were unbeaten heading into game one, as both Stony Brook and Maine had swept their opening series against UMass Lowell and Binghamton, respectively. Starting pitcher Ben Fero toed the rubber for the Seawolves, coming off of an outstanding start last Friday against Lowell. However, Fero was no match for the Maine bats, as they scored seven runs and knocked him out in just the fourth inning.

Maine scored first with an RBI single from first baseman Joe Bramanti in the bottom of the first, but the Seawolves answered immediately with three runs in the top of the second. However, Maine went tit-for-tat with Stony Brook, scoring another three in the bottom of the second to go back in front, 4-3.

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Maine kept pouring in runs, punctuated by a three-run blast from catcher Ryan Turenne off Stony Brook reliever Kyle Johnson to make it 10-3. Fero went 3.1 innings, allowing seven runs (five earned) on 11 hits, walking and striking out two each.

Stony Brook did not waste their at bats despite being blown out. Shortstop Stanton Leuthner collected his second 2-RBI single of the day before catcher Shane Paradine walked in a run with the bases loaded to make it 10-6. Johnson gave the Seawolves a couple of scoreless innings, allowing them to climb a little bit closer.

The top of the seventh saw another three-spot from Stony Brook, as second baseman Evan Fox drove a two-run homer to left field and Paradine scored on a passed ball. What was once a seven-run deficit had turned into just a one-run game.

However, reliever Matthew Pushard ended the Stony Brook rally there. He pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth to finish an eight-out save, securing the 10-9 victory for Maine. Stony Brook had a chance to tie after a wild pitch in the top of the ninth, but Pushard got a fly ball out to end it. Maine stayed undefeated in-conference for the time being, but not for too much longer.

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The Seawolves won game two in an unusually comfortable fashion. After competing in four consecutive one-run games, Stony Brook knotted up the series with a 6-2 win. Starting pitcher Brandon Lashley pitched the best game of his career, tossing a gem for the team en route to earning his first win of the year.

Stony Brook drew first blood in the top of the first inning with an RBI double from Paradine. Despite having several opportunities to add to their lead after that, Maine starter Caleb Leys did a good job stranding runners and keeping it a one-run ballgame.

There was no scoring again until third baseman Evan Giordano hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the sixth to make it 2-0. However, with one out in the bottom of the sixth, Maine designated hitter Jeremiah Jenkins left the yard with his second home run of the year. After Lashley walked the following batter, head coach Matt Senk pulled Lashley and handed the ball to lefty Colton Book. Lashley went 5.1 innings, allowing just one run on five hits, striking out three and walking one.

Book had not pitched in three weeks, and showed signs of rust with seven baserunners allowed in just 3.2 innings. However, he did a good job working out of trouble, stranding several runners to preserve Stony Brook’s lead. He pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the sixth, escaping with a fly out and a groundout to waste three runners.

Stony Brook ran away with it in the top of the eighth, starting with RBI hits from Fox and Giordano. Left fielder Matt Brown-Eiring then delivered the finishing touches with a two-run homer, his second of the year.

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Maine attempted a rally in the bottom of the ninth, as a two-out RBI single from center fielder Jeff Mejia made it 6-2. However, Book induced a foul popout to third base, and Stony Brook won game two.

Stony Brook is still in search of their third starter in the rotation, but may have found an answer in Quinlan Montgomery. The sophomore made his first career start on Sunday in the rubber match and delivered big-time for the Seawolves. Montgomery kept Maine’s bats at bay while the Seawolves bats ate up Maine pitcher Brett Erwin.

Leuthner led off the game with a line-drive home run out to left field, his third of the year and his second lead-off bomb. Later in the inning, first baseman Brett Paulsen went the other way for an RBI single to make it 2-0.

Staked to the early lead, Montgomery did well, but Maine tied the game by the fifth inning. Needing to break the stalemate, Paradine provided the spark with his first home run of the year in the top of the sixth. Center fielder Cole Durkan then added to the lead with an opposite-field RBI single to make it 4-2.

Senk turned to reliever Brendan Pattermann to protect the lead, and the Stony Brook bats broke it open from there as Pattermann recorded an 11-out save in the 8-2 win.

The series saw several impressive performances from Seawolves’ hitters. Fox went 5-for-14 with a double, a homer, three RBIs, two walks and three steals. He also scored four runs, the most impressive of which was when he scored from second on a sacrifice fly in game three. He has now hit safely in 11 straight games, batting .333 in that stretch. Paradine had the most impressive weekend, going 7-for-13 with two doubles, a homer, five RBIs, three walks and four runs. Giordano stayed hot, going 5-for-15 with three RBIs and two steals.

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Tied with NJIT for the best conference record in the America East, Stony Brook will get a reprieve from league play on Wednesday, March 30 at 3 p.m. against still-winless Iona (0-19), who the Seawolves throttled 9-1 two weeks prior.

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Mike Anderson is the sports editor of The Statesman. He is a junior majoring in journalism with aspirations of becoming a sports journalist. His love of sports comes from his time spent as a baseball player. As a reporter for The Statesman, he has covered baseball, softball, football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer and hockey. He has also interned at Axcess Sports as a high school and college baseball and softball reporter. He is a local product from Port Jefferson, N.Y., and is a diehard Mets, Jets, Nets and Islanders fan.

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