Led by the scorching-hot bat of third baseman Evan Giordano, the Stony Brook baseball team finally won its first series in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).
The Seawolves (15-22, 7-11 CAA) kept their playoff hopes alive by taking two out of three games from the Elon Phoenix down in North Carolina this past weekend. They won the opener on Friday 9-4 before letting a close game turn into an 18-5 blowout loss on Saturday. When they needed to most, Giordano and company racked up big hits on Sunday to win the rubber game 8-5.
Stony Brook scored early and often, putting up a four-spot in the top of the first inning. Giordano sparked the scoring spree by poking an RBI single the other way. Designated hitter Shane Paradine, left fielder Matt Brown-Eiring and first baseman Brett Paulsen all followed suit with RBIs of their own to make it 4-0.
Starting pitcher Ben Fero thrived off the run support but also got some help from the gloves behind him. Stony Brook’s middle-infield duo of second baseman Evan Fox and shortstop Matt Miceli combined to turn four double plays in the game, including one in each of the first two innings.
Elon still fought hard, scoring a run in the bottom of the third and fourth innings to cut Stony Brook’s lead to 4-2.
The Seawolves responded in the top of the fifth inning to restore their four-run lead, as RBI singles by Paradine and Paulsen made it 6-2. They threatened for more, but Fox struck out on a check swing with the bases loaded to strand three runners.
Seeking redemption in the top of the seventh inning, Fox grounded a two-out, two-run single through the middle to blow the game open. Stony Brook’s 8-2 lead did not last long, as Fero surrendered a two-run bomb to Elon center fielder Justin Cassella in the next half-inning.
Fero shook the home run off and got through the seventh inning before being pulled in favor of Nick DeGennaro. Still working out of the bullpen in his return from Tommy John Surgery, DeGennaro was electric on the mound for the Seawolves. He pitched two perfect innings and struck out a pair. DeGennaro worked efficiently, as he only threw 24 pitches between the two innings.
Fero earned the win to improve to 3-4 on the year. The home run ruined his statline, but he pitched effectively for Stony Brook against a solid Elon lineup. Fero ate up seven innings, allowing four runs on seven hits while striking out six batters and walking two.
Game two was ugly for the Seawolves. In the bottom of the fifth inning, starting pitcher Josh O’Neill committed errors on consecutive plays and Elon’s lineup capitalized on his mistakes, putting Stony Brook in a 3-0 hole. In the top of the sixth inning, Giordano lined a double down the left field line and was promptly singled home by Paradine. Two batters later, center fielder Derek Yalon doubled Paradine home to cut Stony Brook’s deficit down to just one run.
After getting within a run, Stony Brook’s floodgates opened. In the bottom of the sixth inning, O’Neill retired the leadoff batter before allowing a double to Elon left fielder Connor Offshack. Head coach Matt Senk went to his bullpen and called on relief pitcher Kyle Johnson, who got shelled by the Phoenix.
Johnson struck out the first batter he faced, but then walked and hit the next two to load the bases. With the bags juiced, he walked in a run and then allowed a two-run double to Elon catcher Luke Stephenson. Senk then pulled Johnson in favor of Jared Bellissimo, who walked the only two hitters he faced, forcing in one more run.
Senk made a third pitching change in the inning when he turned to relief pitcher Brandon Lashley, who allowed a two-run single to make it 9-2 Elon. The Phoenix capped off their two-out rally by scoring another run on a throwing error by Fox.
Now trailing 10-2, Fox launched a two-run homer and Paradine drove in a run with a groundout to chip away at Elon’s lead. However, the Phoenix responded with three runs of their own in the bottom of the seventh inning and ran the score up with five runs in the eighth.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Stephenson launched a three-run homer to cap the scoring. He finished game two 3-for-5 with two doubles, a home run, seven RBIs and two runs scored.
Game three was much more reminiscent of Friday night for Stony Brook. Giordano blasted his ninth home run of the year in the top of the first inning, and Fox and Paradine each drove in runs in the top of the second. Elon got one back in the bottom of the third inning when Cassella homered off of starting pitcher Eddie Smink.
That was the only time that Smink cracked on Sunday. The freshman went five innings, allowing just the one run on four hits while striking out six batters and walking only two. Smink battled hard, tossing 111 pitches over his five innings of work. DeGennaro replaced him in the bottom of the sixth inning staked to a 3-1 lead, but did not have the same success as he did on Friday night.
After an error by Miceli and a single, DeGennaro traded a run for an out by getting Elon second baseman Tanner Holliman to bounce into a fielder’s choice. After that, Cassella doubled to deep left field to drive in Holliman from first base and tie the game. He advanced to third on the throw to the plate. Now with the lead run just 90 feet away, Elon shortstop James Broderick gave his team the lead by grounding out to Miceli, driving in Cassella.
Stony Brook one-upped Elon in the top of the seventh inning to take the lead back. After back-to-back singles to lead off the inning, Giordano roped a double down the left-field line to put the Seawolves back on top. Paradine singled the other way to bring Giordano home. Two batters later, Yalon singled in Paradine to make it 7-4 Stony Brook.
Relief pitcher Quinlan Montgomery took the ball after that and finished the game for Stony Brook, earning a nine-out save to secure the team’s first-ever series win in the CAA. Montgomery pitched the final three innings, allowing one run on three hits while striking out and walking one batter.
Stony Brook had a huge offensive series and was carried by the bat of its superstar third baseman. Giordano went 10-for-13 with five doubles, one homer, four RBIs, seven runs scored and one walk.
Fox filled up the statsheet as well, going 5-for-14 with two doubles, a home run, five RBIs, four runs, a hit-by-pitch, a walk and a steal. His stolen base was the 78th of his career, leaving him just one behind Travis Jankowski for the program’s all-time record.
Paradine was excellent as well, going 8-for-12 with one double, six RBIs, four runs and two hit-by-pitches.
Yalon hit the ball hard all week, going 5-for-12 with two doubles, two RBIs and two walks. Freshman right fielder Matty Wright had his best weekend in the NCAA thus far, going 4-for-10 with two walks, one hit-by-pitch, three runs scored and three stolen bases.
Senk did not speak to the media after any of the three games this past weekend.