Baseball opens 2014 season this weekend at Florida International
Feb. 20, 2014
2014 Stony Brook Baseball
Stony Brook #Seawolves (0-0, 0-0 America East)
Florida International Panthers (5-0, 0-0 Conference USA)
The Matchup: After its opening weekend was canceled due to weather-related travel issues, Stony Brook commences the 2014 season this weekend with a three-game series against Florida International of Conference USA. This is a rematch of 2013's season-opening weekend in Miami, when the Panthers came away with a three-game sweep. 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.
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.