The same exact trend continued for the Stony Brook baseball team, who are now four games behind Delaware for a playoff spot.
The Seawolves (13-20, 5-10 CAA) failed to make up any ground in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) this past weekend, as they lost two out of three games to the Northeastern Huskies. Like they have all season long, Stony Brook missed the chance to win a close game one and wound up losing 8-3 in extra innings. The team bounced back with an 11-3 blowout victory on Saturday but was shut out in the rubber game 5-0 on Sunday.
After falling behind 2-0 in the top of the second inning, starting pitcher Ben Fero settled down and limited Northeastern’s dastardly lineup. The Huskies came into Friday’s matchup batting .319 on the year, but Fero limited them to keep them within striking distance.
After Fero put up a pair of zeros in the top of the fourth and fifth innings, Stony Brook had a prime chance to flip the game on its head. Three-straight singles loaded the bases with nobody out for first baseman Brett Paulsen, who lined one down the right field line that landed foul by mere inches.
After catching a lucky break, Northeastern starting pitcher Wyatt Scotti got Paulsen to ground into a 6-4-3 double play. One run scored, but Scotti was given ample breathing room. Now with the tying run on third base and two away, shortstop Matt Miceli flied out to right field.
Fero continued to deal until the top of the seventh inning, when Northeastern left fielder Harrison Feinberg led off with a solo home run. Fero retired one more before allowing a base hit and being pulled from the game in favor of relief pitcher Kyle Johnson. Johnson hit and walked a batter to load the bases, but he struck out two to help himself escape the jam.
Now trailing 3-1, Stony Brook’s bats came back to life in the bottom of the eighth. With Paulsen on second base and Miceli on first with one out, second baseman Evan Fox lined a single into left-center field. Paulsen scored, but Miceli tripped while trying to advance to third base. He got back up and hesitated, leading to Feinburg throwing him out at third base. Fox took advantage of the distraction by moving up to second base on the throw.
That baserunning gaffe by Miceli came back to haunt Stony Brook. With two outs in the frame, catcher Ryan Micheli lined one over the head of Northeastern first baseman Tyler MacGregor and into right field to tie the game at three apiece. That hit would have given Stony Brook a 4-3 lead had Miceli kept his footing, which wound up mattering in the end.
Johnson tossed a scoreless ninth inning, giving Stony Brook a chance to walk off on the Huskies. With two outs, right fielder Derek Yalon lined one into the right-center field gap and hustled his way to third base with a triple. Once again, Paulsen missed the golden opportunity and flew out.
A game that should have never gone past the top of the ninth inning was sent to the top of the 10th, where Northeastern ran away with it.
Leading off the inning, Northeastern designated hitter Alex Lane homered to center field, breaking the tie and giving the Huskies the lead. Later in the inning, a wild pitch with the bases loaded brought in an insurance run, and a two-run triple by Northeastern center fielder Mike Sirota put the game away. MacGregor singled Sirota in for good measure, giving his team a five-run cushion.
Northeastern relief pitcher Griffin Young slammed the door in Stony Brook’s face to finish the game, capping off a three-inning relief stint for him.
The loss dropped Stony Brook to 0-5 in extra inning games — three of those losses have been to CAA teams. The Seawolves also lost in 10 innings on Tuesday at Army. Last Saturday, they suffered a 10-inning defeat against William & Mary.
Head coach Matt Senk attributes the constant close losses to the lack of a clutch gene, which is something that his teams have typically had.
“We haven’t done a good job in rising to the occasion,” Senk said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “We haven’t found the intestinal fortitude to get it done.”
Stony Brook bounced back in game two with a well-rounded stomping of Northeastern. Starting pitcher Josh O’Neill battled control issues, walking six batters in as many innings pitched. However, he worked around his issues effectively, allowing just one run on three hits while striking out eight batters.
“I had a lot more walks than I wanted to, but when the situation got tough, I was able to make a big pitch when I really needed it,” O’Neill said. “I’ll take one run in six innings every time.”
While O’Neill was tossing up zeros, the Seawolves were raking. Stony Brook scored four runs in the first inning, another three in the second and two more in the third to go up 9-0. O’Neill allowed a two-out, solo home run to Northeastern catcher Matt Brinker to break up his shutout. Stony Brook answered immediately with an RBI single from Fox to restore its nine-run lead.
The rest of the game was all garbage time. Four different Seawolves wound up collecting three hits, and eight of the nine starters hit safely. Left fielder Matt Brown-Eiring had the most explosive day, going 3-for-4 with a home run, a sacrifice fly, four RBIs and two runs scored.
“I’m just trying to stay simple and keep going,” Brown-Eiring said. “There’s no reason to change anything when you’re hitting the ball hard. As long as I’m doing my job, getting ribbies and doing what I’m known to do, that’s all that really matters.”
None of Stony Brook’s 11-run, 17-hit performance carried over into game three. Northeastern starting pitcher Eric Yost mowed down Stony Brook’s lineup, taking a shutout into the ninth inning. However, Yost ran out of gas and fell just shy, going 8 ⅓ scoreless innings. He allowed only six hits while striking out six batters and walking none. He improved to 3-0 on the year with a 4.40 ERA.
Starting pitcher Eddie Smink battled against the Huskies, but they got the best of him. He allowed four runs on six hits in 5 ⅓ innings, striking out three and walking one. With how well Yost pitched, after Smink allowed a leadoff homer to Lane in the top of the second inning, Stony Brook never had a chance. Northeastern played small ball and scored four more times throughout the rest of the game, but it was all just window dressing.
On the bright side, Nick DeGennaro made another relief appearance for the Seawolves and pitched much better than his previous outing at Army. He allowed only one run on three hits in 3 ⅔ innings pitched, striking out three batters without issuing a walk.
Stony Brook has now lost two out of three games in all five conference series. Senk was disheartened that his team could not buck the trend on Sunday.
“We’ve talked about being in this position to win a series, and not finding a way to do that was disappointing,” Senk said.
Fox had the best series out of all the Stony Brook hitters. He hit safely in all three games, going 6-for-14 with one double, two RBIs, three runs scored, one walk and two stolen bases. He is now just three steals away from tying Stony Brook’s all-time program record, currently held by Travis Jankowski with 79.
Fox said he is aware of the looming record, but that is not the most important task at hand moving forward.
“It’s a big part of my game, always has been,” Fox said. “I’m always looking to run. It’s in the back of my head, but I know when I want to go. So I’m not going to do anything too crazy.”
Behind Fox, Micheli hit safely in all three games. He went 4-for-13 with two RBIs, two runs scored, a hit-by-pitch and a steal. Third baseman Evan Giordano went 5-for-13 with a double, an RBI, three runs and a steal. Paulsen went 5-for-12 with two RBIs and a run.
Stony Brook will return to the diamond on Tuesday in its second midweek matchup of the year with the Manhattan Jaspers. The Jaspers are 10-24 this year after losing two out of three to Niagara over the weekend. The Seawolves beat them 6-5 on April 4. This time, the two will face off in the Bronx. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.