In one of its most important series in years, the Stony Brook baseball team failed to hold onto any of its six leads.
The Seawolves (19-26, 10-14 CAA) came into this past weekends’ series tied with the Delaware Blue Hens for the final spot in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) playoff picture. They took at least one lead in all three of their games, yet walked away empty-handed and were swept down in Delaware. Stony Brook opened the three-game set with a heartbreaking 12-11 defeat and then followed with an 8-3 loss on Saturday. The team had a great chance to salvage the series on Sunday, but it blew two more leads and fell 10-7.
Game one was a slugfest between the two postseason contenders. The first inning belonged to Delaware starting pitcher Bryce Greenly — a two-way star who both pitches and hits for the Blue Hens. He opened the game by tossing a scoreless frame, and then followed up his job on the mound by launching a leadoff homer in the bottom half of the inning.
Greenly’s luck ran out quickly. In the top of the second inning, back-to-back doubles by left fielder Matt Brown-Eiring and center fielder Derek Yalon tied the game at one apiece. Three batters later, an RBI single by catcher Ryan Micheli gave Stony Brook its first of many leads in the series.
Delaware answered immediately with an RBI double by right fielder Brett Lesher, tying the game 2-2. Stony Brook went back on top in the top of the fourth inning when Brown-Eiring launched his eighth home run of the year over the right-center field wall. That lead did not hold either, as Delaware second baseman Dan Covino tripled home the game’s tying run in the bottom of the fifth inning. The next batter — Delaware third baseman Joey Loynd — broke the tie with a two-run bomb to right field, putting the Blue Hens on top 5-3.
Then came the top of the sixth inning, when Stony Brook had one of its most monumental innings of the year. Designated hitter Shane Paradine pulled a single into left field and advanced to second base on the bobble by Delaware left fielder Andrew Amato, putting the leadoff man in scoring position. Brown-Eiring launched another one over the right-center field wall, but Delaware center fielder Jake Dunion leapt up and brought it back, robbing him of a game-tying home run.
Paradine wisely tagged up on the play and advanced to third base before Yalon drew a walk. Now with runners on the corners, first baseman Brett Paulsen banged one off the glove of Loynd for an RBI infield single. Shortstop Matt Miceli followed Paulsen by lining an opposite-field single into right field to drive in Yalon, tying the game 5-5. The hit prompted Delaware head coach Greg Mamula to make a pitching change, as he called on left-handed relief pitcher Eli Atiya to put the fire out. Greenly stayed in the game strictly as a designated hitter.
Atiya failed to put the fire out, but rather poured gas on the flames. The first batter he faced — Micheli — pulled an RBI single into left field to give Stony Brook a 6-5 lead. Matiya struck out right fielder Matty Wright for the second out, but he then walked second baseman Evan Fox to load the bases. Third baseman Evan Giordano capitalized to the fullest extent, smoking a high breaking pitch way over the left-center field wall for his first-career grand slam.
The seven runs gave Stony Brook a 10-5 lead. However, with how poorly its pitchers performed over the weekend, that lead was far from safe. The five-run cushion evaporated immediately, as relief pitcher Nick DeGennaro entered the game with two runners on base and only one out and failed to throw strikes. He walked Lesher to load the bases, then plunked Greenly to force in a run. He then walked the next two hitters he faced, forcing in two more runs to cut Stony Brook’s lead down to just three runs.
Now with the bases loaded, Delaware shortstop J.J. Freeman got a hanging fastball and crushed it out of sight over the right field wall, putting the Blue Hens back on top. In the bottom of the seventh inning, a single and a stolen base by Amato set up Lesher for an RBI single, making it 12-10 Delaware.
Stony Brook made a bid for a last-second comeback. In the top of the ninth, Fox led off with a double, stole third and then scored on a wild pitch. Paradine singled up the middle to put the tying run on board, but a fielder’s choice and a pop out to the pitcher’s mound slammed the door on game one.
Game two was not as action-packed, but it yielded the same result. Stony Brook scratched across three runs in the top of the first inning, coming by way of an RBI triple by Giordano, an RBI groundout by Paradine and an RBI single by Yalon.
Starting pitcher Josh O’Neill tossed three scoreless frames to start his outing and escaped a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the third inning. A pinch hit sacrifice fly by Delaware right fielder Aidan Kane in the bottom of the fourth inning got the Blue Hens on the board, but O’Neill escaped further trouble to maintain Stony Brook’s lead.
Delaware played some more small ball in the bottom of the sixth inning when catcher Tyler Leach hit a sacrifice fly to make it a one-run game. After a two-out double by Lesher, O’Neill escaped further trouble once again to preserve the Seawolves’ lead.
Head coach Matt Senk tried to squeeze every ounce of production out of O’Neill and stretched him into the bottom of the seventh inning. Unfortunately for Stony Brook, O’Neill ran out of gas. He issued a leadoff walk to Covino and then surrendered the game-tying RBI triple to Loynd. Senk left O’Neill out there to escape the mess, and he almost did. He induced a pop out to first base and then got a ground ball to second base, where Fox threw Loynd out at home plate to keep the game tied.
However, a walk to Kane put two runners on base with two outs. On O’Neill’s 133rd pitch of the night, Amato lifted a three-run home run down the right-field line to put Delaware in front 6-3.
Freeman put the game away in the bottom of the eighth inning with a two-run homer off of relief pitcher Quinlan Montgomery.
Game three was no different, although it did see a couple of unconventional bombs. In the top of the third inning, Fox crushed one over the left-center field wall for a three-run homer to put Stony Brook up 3-0. In the next inning, Paulsen turned on one and pulled it over the left-field fence for his career-high second home run of the season. It was only the fourth homer of Paulsen’s NCAA career.
Much like they had on Friday and Saturday, the Blue Hens did not back down. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Delaware first baseman Josearmando Diaz halved Stony Brook’s lead with a two-run double. Three batters later, Kane doubled him in to make it a one-run game.
Starting pitcher Eddie Smink battled hard with Delaware and kept Stony Brook in front for the next two innings. However, in the bottom of the seventh inning, Smink allowed a two-out single to Greenly that chased him from the game. Relief pitcher Jared Bellissimo took over and allowed a single to Covino and a three-run bomb to Loynd, putting the Blue Hens on top 6-4.
Stony Brook was not done yet. Brown-Eiring turned on a pitch and lifted it way over the left field wall to cut the Seawolves’ deficit down to just a run, and then a single by Yalon put the tying run on board. Paulsen delivered with a double into the right-center field gap to tie the game at six apiece. After a walk to Miceli, Micheli clutched up and gave his team a 7-6 lead with an RBI single into left field.
Right on cue, in the bottom of the eighth inning, Bellissimo allowed a leadoff triple to Diaz and a walk to Amato before being pulled in favor of relief pitcher Brandon Lashley. Leach greeted him with a game-tying sacrifice fly, and an RBI single by Kane gave Delaware the lead for good.
Later in the frame, an RBI single by Greenly and a sacrifice fly from Covino put the finishing touches on Stony Brook’s final meltdown.
The Seawolves had several offensive standouts this weekend. Brown-Eiring went 6-for-14 and had his power stroke working in full effect, collecting a double and two home runs. He tallied two RBIs and four runs scored, and could have had even better statistics had it not been for the great play by Dunion in game one.
Yalon swung the bat well, going 4-for-13 with a double, two RBIs, three runs and a walk. Paulsen hit safely in all three games, going 5-for-12 with two doubles, a home run, three RBIs and three runs. Micheli went 5-for-10 with three RBIs, two runs and two walks.
Once again, Fox had a good weekend out of the leadoff spot. He went 3-for-10 with a double, a home run, three RBIs, four runs scored, four walks and a hit-by-pitch.
Senk did not speak to the media after any of the three games.
By falling seven games below .500 with only six games remaining, Stony Brook has now clinched its first losing season since 2020, which was shortened after only five weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Seawolves have not suffered a losing season over a full-length schedule since 2013, when the roster was depleted by the 2012 MLB Draft.
Stony Brook is now in eighth place in the CAA and is not in control of its own playoff destiny. The Seawolves will return to Joe Nathan Field on Tuesday for their final nonconference game of the season. They will host the Sacred Heart Pioneers at 3 p.m. to kick off their last homestand of the year. The Pioneers are 20-26 this year after taking two out of three games from Delaware State over the weekend.