Stony Brook baseball fans can rejoice as star third baseman Evan Giordano will be returning to the team for a fifth season next year. After being awarded the 2022 America East Player of the Year Award and being named First-Team All-Conference for the second straight year, Giordano will have a chance to expand upon his Seawolves legacy in 2023.
Like all NCAA athletes who were around in 2020, Giordano has an extra year of eligibility due to the pandemic. He confirmed his fifth-year return during an interview with WUSB’s The Sports Section.
“Me and the coaches have worked out a plan to come back for next year,” Giordano said in an interview with The Statesman.
His return will help raise expectations for the baseball team, as he has become one of the best hitters in program history. He has batted over .300 each of the last three seasons, culminating in a career slash line of .320/.416/.541.
In 2022, Giordano slashed a career-best .333/.442/.628 with a conference-leading 1.070 OPS. He set new career highs in every offensive category, including a team-leading 13 home runs, tied for fourth most in program history. Giordano said that his MVP campaign was fueled by a mechanical adjustment that he made after a conversation with his father, John.
“It was probably around the time we played Binghamton at home … I wasn’t having the production that I wanted to have. He was messing around with me saying ‘You lost your juice; you’ve got no juice … Last year, were you doing anything differently that you’re not doing now?’” Giordano said. “I thought about it, and I tried to fix my hands a little bit … That was what made the adjustment to start lifting the ball more.”
The adjustment with his hands produced massive results. Giordano slashed .420/.523/.928 with eight doubles, nine homers, 25 RBIs and 23 walks after the aforementioned Binghamton series. During that stretch, the team went 12-7 and overlapped Maine to win the 2022 America East regular season title. The championship run culminated with Giordano’s heroics, as he provided the walk-off hit in the final game of the season to capture the title.
“That was the cherry on top for the whole season,” Giordano said. “We accomplished everything that we were allowed to accomplish… This was our regional. It was awesome for all of us.”
Giordano has become accustomed to big moments during his time at Stony Brook. As a junior, he picked up a walk-off hit during the America East Tournament to eliminate the rival Albany Great Danes. In 2022 alone, Giordano racked up several clutch hits. He notably hit a game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth inning on back-to-back days versus UMass Lowell and also drew a walk-off walk against them. In early May, he hit an eighth-inning home run to give his team the lead versus UMBC. In that same season finale against NJIT, Giordano launched a three-run homer to make it a one-run game.
He credits his mentality towards his ability to deliver in the clutch.
“I think it just stems from wanting to be in that moment,” Giordano said. “You get up there and you want to be that guy. You want to be the guy that wins the game for your team … You don’t want to think too much; you don’t want to try and do too much. You just want to outcompete the pitcher in that spot.”
Giordano’s development as a ballplayer goes back to the struggles of his freshman season, when the team made it to the 2019 NCAA Regionals. He platooned as a freshman, playing in 17 games while batting .229 with no home runs.
“Coming out of high school, everybody’s the man,” Giordano said. “You get to college and you think you’re going to just walk right into it. It’s just not like that. I had to go through some of those struggles. I had to learn the ‘mental toughness’ part of this game … It really turned around my career.”
Another driver of Giordano’s development is the adversity that he has battled through. Not only did he overcome struggles as a freshman, but he had his sophomore season canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Playing for a team that was primed to repeat its 2019 success, Giordano was off to a great start. Batting .368 with the first two home runs of his career, it looked like he was in for a monster year until it was shut down.
“COVID was tough for everybody,” Giordano said. “We had that goal of coming back and going back to a regional … I felt like we had a great squad that year. It kind of put things into perspective … You just can’t take things for granted.”
After bouncing back from a rough freshman year only to have his breakout halted, Giordano officially arrived in 2021. He saw his batting average climb to .383 by late April, and was leading the conference in RBIs at that point. Not only that, but the team was winning. Stony Brook began the season 15-1 in conference play and Giordano’s production was one of the catalysts.
“It was awesome as a player because it made me realize that I could do this,” Giordano said. “I could compete with the best of them in this conference. It was just a great stretch as a player and as a team.”
Two weeks before this past season began, the America East banned Stony Brook from competing in the postseason due to their impending move to the CAA. It was the third major event that prevented Giordano and his team from going to a regional, but that did not stop him from putting up his aforementioned numbers and taking home some hardware.
Giordano also proved this past semester that he is more than just a good baseball player, but a good student.
Giordano earned a 3.54 GPA during the Spring 2022 semester all while balancing an MVP season and an impending graduation. By doing so, he earned a spot on the America East’s 2022 All-Academic team for baseball. On June 30, the America East awarded him the 2022 Spring Scholar-Athlete award for baseball players.
During the interview, Giordano said that he is not playing on a team this summer. At the start of the offseason, he took a week-long physical and mental break from baseball. Ever since then, he’s been working out and looking to perfect his craft.
Defense is one thing that Giordano struggled with at times in 2022, and he listed that as his first thing to work on.
“Looking at this past year, I think I could improve on my defense for sure,” Giordano said. “I had some plays that I still have some nightmares about.”
Now that the Seawolves can pencil in their superstar third baseman, they can set their sights on a new goal: the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) championship. It will be more difficult than in the America East, as they will face stronger competition with much better pitching. But having the skill set and the experience that Giordano brings to the table means that Stony Brook can’t be counted out.