#Seawolves commence 2014 season at Southern Miss this weekend

Frankie Vanderka
 
Frankie Vanderka
 
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Feb. 12, 2014

2014 Stony Brook Baseball

Weekend 1 - Friday, Feb. 14-Sunday, Feb. 16
Stony Brook (0-0) vs. Southern Mississippi (0-0)
Pete Taylor Park  •  Hattiesburg, Miss.
Friday - 5 p.m.  •  Saturday - 3 p.m.  •  Sunday - 12 p.m.

Game 1:
STATS  |
 VIDEO
 SB Starter: RHP Frankie Vanderka
SM Starter: RHP Cameron Giannini

Game 2:
STATS  |  VIDEO
 SB Starter: RHP Brandon McNitt
SM Starter: RHP Taylor Nunez
Game 3:
STATS  |  VIDEO
SB Starter: RHP Tim Knesnik
SM Starter: RHP Christian Talley

Stony Brook #Seawolves (0-0, 0-0 America East)
Head Coach:
Matt Senk, 24th season
Overall Record: 648-425-3
Record at SB:
same 

Southern Mississippi Eagles (0-0, 0-0 Conference USA)
Head Coach: Scott Berry, fifth season
Overall Record: 137-94
Record at Southern Miss: same

SEASON PREVIEW

The Matchup: Stony Brook commences the 2014 season this weekend with a three-game series against Southern Mississippi of Conference USA. This is the first-ever meeting between the two programs and Stony Brook's first trip to the state of Mississippi as a Div. I program. The #Seawolves return 19 letterwinners from last season's squad, including three starting pitchers and seven starting position players.

Recapping Last Season: After a difficult start to the 2013 season, Stony Brook rebounded nicely by winning its final four America East series to qualify for the America East Championship for the eighth consecutive year, which is the longest active streak among the current member institutions. Stony Brook fell short of winning the tournament title after losing to Maine, beating Albany to stay alive and then falling to Maine again in an elimination game. Outstanding individual performances included first baseman Kevin Courtney, starting pitcher Frankie Vanderka and outfielder Jack Parenty earning first-team All-America East honors, reliever Tim Knesnik, catcher Anthony Italiano and third baseman Johnny Caputo making second-team All-America East and Parenty grabbing America East Rookie of the Year honors.

Dominating America East: Stony Brook has been at or near the top of America East now for a few seasons. No team has been more dominant over the last four seasons than the Seawolves, who are 73-29 (.716) in conference play since the start of the 2010 season with two regular season (2011, 2012) and two tournament (2010, 2012) championships.

Preseason Favorite: Stony Brook has been picked as the co-favorite to win America East in 2014, according to the coaches' preseason poll released on Feb. 4. Stony Brook and defending tournament champion Binghamton both received three first-place votes. Defending America East regular season champion Maine was picked third, followed by Hartford fourth, Albany fifth, UMBC sixth and league newcomer UMass Lowell seventh.

Youth Movement: Stony Brook was incredibly young in 2013. Freshmen and sophomores accounted for 61% of the team's at-bats and 45.6% of the team's innings pitched. 

The Complete Package: Senior starter Frankie Vanderka ranked second in the nation in complete games last season with eight, including four consecutive complete games mid-year. He ranked third in America East last season with a 2.80 ERA and second in wins with eight.

A Cannon Behind the Plate: Senior catcher Anthony Italiano was tested behind the plate all of last season, but did a phenomenal job limiting base stealers. He finished the year 37-for-84 in throwing out base stealers, which is good for a 44% caught stealing percentage. The 37 caught steals easily led America East.

Frankie Say No-No: Senior starter Frankie Vanderka pitched his second career no-hitter last season. On March 10, Vanderka held the Fordham Rams hitless over nine innings, and the Seawolves won the game with two runs in the ninth inning. Interestingly enough, the game was only a seven-inning game, but the two teams kept playing because the game was scoreless. Vanderka pitched his first no-hitter two years ago as a freshman, when he struck out 13 in a win over NJIT. For his efforts, Vanderka was named America East Pitcher of the Week, CollegeBaseballInsider.com Northeast Region Player of the Week, NCBWA National Pitcher of the Week and a Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week.

In the Record Books: Senior Brandon McNitt is fifth in program history in wins (18), 10th in strikeouts (168) and third in innings pitched (285-2/3). Senior Frankie Vanderka is fourth in complete games (12) among Seawolves in the Div. I era (1999-present).

Seawolves in the Pros: Stony Brook Baseball has a tremendous reputation and traditon of sending its graduates to professional baseball. The program has had 19 student-athletes selected in the Major League Baseball draft and 10 others sign Minor League free agent contracts. Twenty other Seawolves have signed and played in the Independent Leagues. Currently, there are 10 former Seawolves active in the Major League and Minor League systems, including Joe Nathan, who is the closer for the Detroit Tigers, and Tom Koeher, a starter for the Miami Marlins. In 2012 alone, Stony Brook had seven players drafted alone, including first-rounder Travis Jankowski.

Joe Nathan Field: Stony Brook University has a fantastic baseball facility, thanks in large part to Seawolves Baseball alumnus Joe Nathan '97, who donated the lead gift to renovate the baseball field, which was transformed into Joe Nathan Field. Opened in May 2011 and dedicated in October 2011, Joe Nathan Field boasts new FieldTurf, new dugouts, new bullpens, new hitting tunnels and a new scoreboard, courtesy of Bethpage Federal Credit Union.

Shock the World: Stony Brook is just two years removed from one of the more magical seasons in collegiate baseball history. The #Seawolves captured the nation's attention by beating six-time national champion LSU in the best 2-out-of-3 NCAA Super Regional to advance to the College World Series, becoming the first school from the Northeast Region since 1986 to do so. The #Seawolves finished the year with a nation-leading 52 victories, which led to head coach Matt Senk earning NCBWA National Coach of the Year honors.

SEASON PREVIEW

The 2014 season is upon the Stony Brook Baseball team, which looks to continue the momentum it built up towards the end of the 2013 season when the #Seawolves won their final four America East regular season series to clinch a spot in the conference tournament for the eighth consecutive season.

Boasting one of the youngest teams in the country last season, Stony Brook returns a more balanced roster in 2014 with eight seniors and four juniors to go with nine sophomores and eight freshmen. Four of the eight seniors were position player starters in 2013, and two were at the front of the #Seawolves starting rotation.

Faced with a difficult non-conference schedule, Stony Brook will look to make noise against top-tier programs such as Southern Miss, Florida International, Wake Forest, UC Riverside, Cal State Northridge and USC. The strength of those programs will help Stony Brook prepare for America East competition as the #Seawolves look to capture their fifth conference championship in program history.

The 24-game conference slate includes home matchups with Albany, Binghamton, Maine and Hartford along with road series at Hartford, UMass Lowell, Albany and UMBC. The season ends with the 2014 America East Championship, to be played May 21-23 (May 24 if necessary) at LeLacheur Park in Lowell, Mass., the home of the Lowell Spinners Minor League Baseball team.

Let's meet the 2014 #Seawolves:

Starting Rotation
Stony Brook should prove to be quite talented on the mound despite injuries. The #Seawolves will roll out one of the best one-two punches in America East with seniors Frankie Vanderka (Levittown, N.Y.) and Brandon McNitt (Chino Hills, Calif.) Both have been named first-team All-America East in their careers and both were integral members of the 2012 team that advanced to the College World Series. Sophomore Tim Knesnik (Milford, Pa.), a 2013 Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America and second-team All-America East selection as a reliever, will get first crack at the third spot in the rotation. He led the team in appearances last season. The #Seawolves will miss sophomore starter and America East All-Rookie Daniel Zamora (La Puente, Calif.), who will likely not compete this season due to injury.

Infield
The #Seawolves will be deep with experience on the diamond, especially behind the plate at catcher where senior Anthony Italiano (Sayville, N.Y.) and junior Kevin Krause (Staten Island, N.Y.) return. Krause was the incumbent starter last season before an injury forced him to miss significant time. That gave Italiano, a second-team All-America East selection, a chance to play, and he delivered with three home runs and throwing out 44 percent of attempted base stealers. The two both have potent bats and will also see time at DH. Freshman Kyle Devin (Lynn, Mass.) and sophomore James Carr (Manhasset, N.Y.) add depth to the position. Senior Kevin Courtney (Lindenhurst, N.Y.) is the big bopper at first base. He led all America East players in conference-only home runs (6) and slugging (.697) while earning first-team All-America East honors. Junior shortstop Cole Peragine (Belle Ewart, Ontario), a former America East Rookie of the Year, returns for his third season as the starter, and he represents one of the team's best on-base and defensive threats. Sophomore Johnny Caputo (Toronto, Ontario), coming off an All-America East second team nod as a freshman, will start at third base. Second base is an open competition with junior college transfer Robert Chavarria (Garden Grove, Calif.), freshman Jeremy Giles (Claremont, Calif.) and sophomore Austin Shives (San Diego, Calif.) showing potential. Freshman Casey Baker (Ronkonkoma, N.Y.) will also compete for playing time at multiple positions.

Outfield
Stony Brook's outfield will be strong with reigning 2013 America East Rookie of the Year Jack Parenty (Wantagh, N.Y.) manning left field and senior Josh Mason (Woodland Hills, Calif.) patrolling center. Parenty hit a team-best .333 last season while Mason hit .277 and has the outfield's best throwing arm. Right field is an open competition with junior Michael Roehrig (Lindenhurst, N.Y.) and freshman Toby Handley (Whitby, Ontario) potentially ahead for playing time.

Bullpen
The #Seawolves have many talented arms ready to contribute in 2014. Sophomore Chad Lee (San Dimas, Calif.), who posted a team-low 2.09 ERA last season will see significant time, as will sophomore Tyler Honahan (Parker, Colo.), who struck out 35 batters in 31 innings in 2013. Sophomore Nick Brass (Shirley, N.Y.) has breakout potential after having a great summer, and seniors Josh Barry (Seaford, N.Y.) and Bryan Tatelman (South Windsor, Conn.) add experience. Freshmen Cameron Stone (West Haven, Conn.), Connor Doyle (Maspeth, N.Y.), Joseph Guercio (Kings Park, N.Y.) and Ryley MacEachern (Saugus, N.Y.) will look to make an impact early in their careers.