Carried by the dominance of its bats, the Stony Brook baseball team is now on a five-game winning streak after losing its first nine contests.
On a cold, windy weekend at Joe Nathan Field, the Seawolves (5-9) stayed hot by sweeping the Lafayette Leopards in three games. Stony Brook won both halves of a doubleheader on Friday before completing the sweep with a victory on Sunday. The final scores were 11-6, 9-7 and 9-3, respectively.
With Stony Brook leading 3-2 in the top of the seventh inning, Lafayette first baseman Kyle Chmielewski lined a double into the right-field corner to tie the game. After a productive groundout, Lafayette shortstop Blaze Fadio gave his team the lead with an RBI infield single to shortstop.
Lafayette’s lead did not last long. After shortstop Matt Miceli drew a leadoff walk, third baseman Evan Giordano lined the first pitch he saw into the right-center field gap to tie the game. Two batters later, left fielder Matt Brown-Eiring pulled a 3-0 pitch past the third baseman and into left field to break the tie and score Giordano.
Stony Brook scored four more runs in the inning to take a 9-4 lead. In their last turn at-bat, the Seawolves padded their lead with RBI groundouts from Brown-Eiring and right fielder Matty Wright.
A pair of garbage-time runs in the top of the ninth inning made the game appear closer than it was. Though relief pitcher Josh O’Neill earned the win for Stony Brook, starting pitcher Jared Bellissimo was the one who kept Lafayette’s bats at bay.
Bellissimo tossed a quality start, allowing only three runs (two earned) in 6 ⅓ innings. He scattered four hits while striking out five batters and walking only two. Bellissimo attributed his best start of the season to his command.
“I think I just had a three-pitch mix going,” Bellissimo said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “I was able to locate my fastball which was most important. In, out, up and down. I also thought I did a good job battling and getting ahead of hitters.”
On offense, Brown-Eiring was the star of the show, going 3-for-5 with a home run, four RBIs and two runs scored. Brown-Eiring attributed his run production to his mentality while batting with runners on base.
“I just bow my neck when there’s guys on,” Brown-Eiring said. “I try and do everything I can to get them in. That’s always my goal. Even when there’s no one on, I try to get on so other guys can do that.”
Game two came easier to Stony Brook, as its offense broke out earlier than it did in game one. Up 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth, Giordano roped another double into right-center field to drive in two more runs. Brown-Eiring struck again by lining one off the tip of Fadio’s glove and into center field for an RBI single.
Lafayette answered with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth inning to cut Stony Brook’s lead down to just two runs. However, the Seawolves took the momentum back in the bottom of the seventh inning with a successful double steal of second base and home plate. First baseman Brett Paulsen swiped second base and drew a throw from Lafayette catcher Michael Mallas, allowing center fielder Derek Yalon to score from third.
Stony Brook put the game out of reach with three more runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Yalon came up big again, lining a two-run single into right center to make it 9-3 Stony Brook.
Just like in game one, Lafayette scored some meaningless runs in the top of the ninth to make the stats prettier. Lafayette center fielder Justin Grech collected an RBI with a groundout and third baseman Seif Ingram launched a three-run homer to make it a two-run game. But, relief pitcher J.T. Raab shut the door and finished the game to earn his first-career save.
Starting pitcher Ben Fero earned his first win of 2023 with his best outing of the year. He tossed six innings for Stony Brook and only allowed three earned runs on six hits. He struck out six batters and walked only three.
Stony Brook got Saturday off, as game two was originally scheduled for that day but was moved up due to the weather forecast. The team returned to action on Sunday and finished the job with another well-rounded performance.
After tying the game at two apiece in the bottom of the fourth inning, Stony Brook scored six times in the fifth to run away with it. A bases-loaded walk to Wright broke the tie before Giordano cleared the bases with a three-run double to right center. Designated hitter Shane Paradine and Yalon tacked on two more with sacrifice flies to make it 8-2.
An RBI groundout in the next half-inning by Lafayette catcher Ethan Swidler cut Stony Brook’s lead back down to five runs, but Brown-Eiring got that run back with an RBI single in the eighth inning.
Relief pitcher Jerek Hobb put the series to bed with a scoreless ninth inning, securing Stony Brook’s fifth-straight win.
Relief pitcher Eddie Smink entered the game early for Stony Brook and pitched the best game of his young career. The freshman flamethrower earned his first win in the NCAA by pitching five innings out of the bullpen. He held Lafayette to just one earned run on four hits while posting four strikeouts and just one walk.
After game three, head coach Matt Senk spoke about Smink’s development and how he has made the jump from high school to Division I.
“I was happy to see him pitch well; his stuff is there,” Senk said. “It’s not like high school: you’re not just going to go out there and rely on your stuff. You’ve got to have high baseball IQ and some pitchability, and I think he showed that today.”
Giordano and Brown-Eiring raked all weekend. Giordano has now hit a double in five straight games and batted .636 (14-for-22) for the week. Against Lafayette, Giordano went 6-for-11 with three doubles, a triple, three walks, six RBIs, six runs scored and a stolen base.
Brown-Eiring had multiple hits in all three games this weekend, going 7-for-11 overall. He hammered his second home run of the season and collected six RBIs, four runs, three walks and a steal.
Giordano believes that the team’s offense is finally in midseason form.
“I just think everybody’s a little more comfortable,” Giordano said. “We’re all finding our footing. All the hard work is really coming along right now and everybody feels good out there.
With the Seawolves finally trending in the right direction, Senk is proud of his team for bouncing back from the winless stretch.
“When you have a start like we have … it can knock you on your heels a little bit,” Senk said. “To their credit, they regrouped and they were better because of what we learned within ourselves the first three weekends.”
Weather permitting, Stony Brook’s next game will be on Tuesday against the Iona Gaels. Iona is 2-11 this year and is riding a seven-game losing streak after being swept in a doubleheader by Longwood on Saturday.