Though the Stony Brook baseball team’s starters built up a three-run lead, its backups immediately coughed up the chance to win its nonconference finale.
Fundamentals and sunlight betrayed the Seawolves (19-27, 10-14 CAA) on Wednesday afternoon when they lost their final midweek game of the year at Joe Nathan Field. Stony Brook started off on the right foot, but blew a late lead to the Sacred Heart Pioneers and lost 9-5.
Head coach Matt Senk began the game with most of his regular starters on the field. Second baseman Evan Fox validated that decision by leading off the game with a walk and then stealing second and third base. Designated hitter Shane Paradine grounded out to shortstop to drive Fox in, giving Stony Brook a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.
Two innings later, Fox reached on an error and then advanced from first to third on a double by third baseman Evan Giordano. Paradine brought Fox home from third again, this time with a sacrifice fly, extending Stony Brook’s lead to 2-0.
In the top of the fourth inning, Sacred Heart second baseman Ryan Donnelly lined a two-run homer towards the right-field corner to tie the game. In the bottom of the fourth inning, catcher Chris Leone pulled a ground ball down to Sacred Heart third baseman Joe Emerson, who stumbled and failed to get a throw off in time. Center fielder Derek Yalon came in to score the run, putting Stony Brook back on top 3-2.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, first baseman Brett Paulsen gave the Seawolves some breathing room with a ground rule double down the right-field line. Paulsen’s hit drove in a pair to make it 5-2, and relief pitcher Cade Thompson pitched a scoreless top of the sixth inning to hold that lead.
Though the starters spotted the backups a three-run cushion, they only gathered four hits through the first six innings. Senk was unimpressed with their performance.
“I think considering some of the pitching that we’ve faced this year — and we’ve swung it better against them than we did today — I think there’s not too many things to point to that were not disappointing,” Senk said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “We could’ve done more out there.”
In the top of the seventh inning, Senk subbed in backups at every position except for Giordano at third base. He also kept Fox in the game and moved him to center field. That move came back to bite Stony Brook right then and there.
Relief pitcher Sadier Vicioso was on the verge of escaping a jam and preserving the Seawolves’ lead. With the bases loaded and two outs, Vicioso induced a lazy fly ball from Sacred Heart center fielder Justin Jordan into right-center field. However, right fielder Matt DeStefano — who was just subbed into the game — struggled to find the ball through the brightness of the sun. DeStefano stabbed at the ball and missed it, and it bounced past him and went all the way back to the fence. All four baserunners came around to score, giving Sacred Heart a 6-5 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, second baseman Johnny Pilla was caught stealing at second base to end the frame. Stony Brook had another scoring chance with two runners on and two out in the bottom of the eighth inning, but Fox flied out to end it.
In the top of the ninth inning, Sacred Heart left fielder Nick Jaskolski singled home a run to extend his team’s lead to 7-5. Sacred Heart shortstop Sam Mongelli bounced into a run-scoring fielder’s choice to tack on another run. After that, he stole second base and drew a throw from Leone that skipped into center field. Mongelli got back up, sprinted around third base and slid into home plate safely to put the finishing touches on the Pioneers’ victory.
Stony Brook had one more chance to come back, as it loaded the bases with only one out in the bottom of the ninth inning. However, first baseman Jason Campo grounded into a double play to shortstop to end it.
As disappointed as Senk was in the starters, it was even worse when it came to the backups.
“They want playing time; we gave them playing time,” Senk said. “I wish that they would come in and once given the opportunity, make the most of it.”
Stony Brook utilized a bullpen day and got multiple good performances from some of its arms. Relief pitcher Eric Foster made his first career start and pitched the best game of his career. He pitched three scoreless innings on just 30 pitches, allowing just one hit while striking out one batter. Relief pitcher Devin Sharkey made his fifth appearance of the season and pitched a hitless sixth inning, allowing just a walk while striking out one. Relief pitcher Kyle Johnson pitched 1 ⅓ perfect innings on just eight pitches.
Offensively, Stony Brook had a couple of hitters with productive games. Fox went 0-for-3 but walked twice, scored two runs and stole three bases. He now has 34 steals in 40 attempts this year, placing him just two behind Travis Jankowski’s current single-season program record.
Giordano went 2-for-5 with his 18th double of the year. Paulsen went 1-for-3 with a two-RBI double. Leone went 1-for-3 with an RBI single and a walk. Pilla went 2-for-2 off the bench. Paradine went 0-for-2, but collected two RBIs. Yalon went 0-for-1 but walked and was hit by a pitch, leading to him scoring two runs.
Stony Brook will now turn its focus to this weekend where it will host the Monmouth Hawks for a must-win series. The Hawks are 15-25 this year and 5-17 in Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) games. They were swept by Hofstra last weekend and lost game three on Sunday 19-2.