Though its pitching held one of the 10 best hitting teams in the nation in check, the Stony Brook baseball team was held to just three hits in a tough loss.
Wrapping up their five-game homestand, the Seawolves (19-23, 10-11 CAA) lost to the Fairfield Stags 5-4 on Tuesday afternoon. They did not score until the eighth inning, and failed to scratch across an earned run against any of Fairfield’s five pitchers.
Fairfield came into the game with the 10th-best batting average in the NCAA, which offered a good test for starting pitcher J.T. Raab. After tossing a 1-2-3 top of the first inning, Raab loaded the bases with a pair of singles and a hit batsman in the top of the second. He escaped the jam by inducing a lazy fly ball out to left field before striking out Fairfield center fielder Ryan Strollo looking to retire the side.
Raab did not hold down Fairfield’s deadly lineup for much longer. Fairfield left fielder Griffin Watson led off the top of the third inning with a solo home run down the left-field line to start the scoring. Later in the frame, with the bases loaded and two out, Fairfield first baseman Matt Bergevin bounced a single off the pitcher’s mound and through the middle to drive in a pair.
Now with runners on the corners and two outs, Bergevin stole second base and catcher Chris Leone’s throw skipped into center field to bring home another run from third base. In the top of the sixth inning, Fairfield designated hitter Matt Bucciero put the game out of Stony Brook’s reach with a leadoff home run to make it 5-0 Stags.
On the offensive side, Stony Brook never got anything going. Designated hitter Shane Paradine singled with two outs in the bottom of the first, but Fairfield’s pitching staff retired the next 14 hitters. The Seawolves did not board another baserunner until right fielder Matty Wright was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the sixth inning. Second baseman Evan Fox followed him up by drawing a walk, but third baseman Evan Giordano grounded into a double play to waste the opportunity.
Head coach Matt Senk said that the team’s collective approach was to blame for the loss.
“Offensively, we were a totally different team than we’ve been,” Senk said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “We hit a bunch of ground balls to the pull side. We weren’t working the middle of the field. We weren’t fighting like hell with two strikes. We’ve had a ton of success recently with our approach against some really good pitching, and today that approach was close to being nonexistent.”
Stony Brook made things interesting in the bottom of the eighth inning. Still trailing 5-0, Leone drew a one-out walk to give the Seawolves a rare baserunner. Wright followed him by bouncing a ground ball over to first base, but the ball deflected off Bergevin’s glove and into right field for an error.
Now with runners on the corners and only one out, Fox pulled a ground ball over to Fairfield shortstop Noah Lucier, who bobbled it and failed to get the force play at second base. Leone scored on the play to break up the shutout.
After that, Giordano bounced one over to Fairfield third baseman Charlie Pagliarini, who booted the ground ball. He recovered it quickly and rushed his throw, airmailing it over Bergevin’s head at first base. Wright came around to score while Fox moved over to third base.
Paradine kept the line moving without Fairfield’s help, as he roped one to deep left field and over the head of Watson for an RBI double. Left fielder Matt Brown-Eiring followed Paradine with a sacrifice fly into center field, driving in Giordano to make it a one-run game.
With Paradine still on second base and two outs, Stony Brook had a chance to tie. However, Fairfield relief pitcher Bowen Baker struck out center fielder Derek Yalon to end the eighth inning.
Senk was proud of his team for not going down without a fight.
“There has not been a time this year where they don’t keep playing,” Senk said. “They keep competing and that was no different today.”
Relief pitcher Quinlan Montgomery tossed a scoreless top of the ninth inning, giving the Seawolves a shot at tying the game in their last turn at-bat. However, Baker retired the side in order and struck out a pair to lock down the six-out save.
Stony Brook’s offense generated only three hits. All four runs that it scored were unearned, as they came by way of the three consecutive errors. Paradine had the most productive day at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a double, an RBI and a walk. Brown-Eiring also swung the bat well, going 1-for-3 with a double and an RBI on the sacrifice fly.
Though he went 0-for-4, Giordano collected an RBI when he reached on the throwing error, giving him 44 for the year. He also scored a run, giving him 45 this season.
Relief pitcher Brandon Lashley had a good outing and quieted Fairfield’s hot bats, keeping the Seawolves in the game. He pitched 2 ⅓ scoreless innings, allowing just a hit and a walk. Montgomery also tossed two scoreless frames, striking out one batter while walking two and allowing two hits.
Stony Brook will now turn its attention to its most important series of the year. The Seawolves will travel down to Delaware this weekend to take on the Delaware Blue Hens for a three-game series with massive postseason implications. The two teams are tied for sixth place in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) standings, and the winner of the series will gain ground in the standings and earn the tiebreaker over one another.
The Blue Hens are 21-23 this season and 10-11 in the CAA. They will play No. 23/21 Maryland on Wednesday before their matchup with Stony Brook. Game one is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Friday.