#Seawolves open conference play at home vs. Albany
March 21, 2014
2014 Stony Brook Baseball
Stony Brook, N.Y. - The games that count begin this weekend as the Stony Brook baseball team hosts Albany in a three-game America East series, beginning with a doubleheader on Saturday. The #Seawolves have been one of the most dominant teams in the conference, having won two regular season and two tournament titles over the last four seasons.
Stony Brook #Seawolves (6-9, 0-0 America East)
The Matchup: Stony Brook begins the important part of its season as it opens its 24-game America East Conference schedule with a three-game home series against Albany. The #Seawolves are looking to qualify for the America East Championship for the ninth consecutive season and must finish among the top four of eligible teams to do so. Stony Brook has finished no worse than fourth in eight consecutive seasons. Albany is already 2-1 in America East, having taken two of three from UMBC on the road last weekend.
Conference Format: With the start of conference play, let's review the America East's schedule format. The seven teams will play a 24-game schedule spread out over eight three-game series. The #Seawolves will face two teams both home and away and will face the other four teams just once. Stony Brook's home-and-home partners this season are Albany and Hartford. The team will host Maine and Binghamton and travel to UMass Lowell and UMBC. The top four teams in the conference, not including UMass Lowell, which is ineligible due to NCAA Div. I transitional status, will advance to the 2014 America East Championship, to be held May 22-25 at LeLacheur Park in Lowell, Mass.
California Trip Recap: Stony Brook just came back from a week in the sun on the west coast where the team faced UC Riverside, USC and Cal State Northridge. The #Seawolves won the first of a three-game series with Riverside only to lose two straight. Then Stony Brook defeated USC, the program's first-ever win against a Pac-12 school. The team finished the trip with a pitcher's duel against Northridge, coming up short in a 1-0 loss. Robert Chavarria dominated on the trip, hitting .500 (9-for-18) with four RBI. Kevin Krause bashed two home runs in the Riverside series. The pitching staff as a whole had a 2.95 ERA, led by impressive starts from Brandon McNitt, Tyler Honahan and Tim Knesnik.
California Pipeline: The #Seawolves have done a tremendous job recruiting the state of California. Stony Brook currently has seven players from Southern California, including Brandon McNitt, Austin Shives, Josh Mason, Chad Lee, Robert Chavarria, Jeremy Giles and Daniel Zamora. All-time #Seawolves wins leader Tyler Johnson (2009-12) also hails from California.
Call It a Sweep: In addition to sweeping Fordham in a three-game series March 8-9, the #Seawolves swept the weekly America East awards as Kevin Courtney was named America East Player of the Week, Frankie Vanderka was tabbed America East Pitcher of the Week and Casey Baker garnered America East Rookie of the Week accolades. Courtney batted .467 with four extra-base hits and a walk-off double in the 14th inning of a 10-9 win over the Rams. In the first game of the series, Vanderka blanked Fordham by scattering three hits over nine innings while striking out 11. Baker went 6-for-9 with three runs scored and a critical walk in the 12th inning of the series finale vs. Fordham that helped keep the game alive.
A Stepping Stone to Success: Freshman Cameron Stone is having a nice start to his collegiate career. He has quickly developed into an option in the late innings, posting 16 strikeouts in 12 innings pitched and earning two saves. He helped Stony Brook go into extra innings at Wake Forest with four strong innings of work. He stepped up again in extra innings with three solid innings against Fordham on March 9. Then he recorded saves with a scoreless ninth inning at UC Riverside (March 14) and 2-1/3 shutout innings in the win over USC (March 18).
Close Affairs: Stony Brook is quickly gaining an appreciation for playing in tight games. The #Seawolves have already had seven of their 15 games decided by one run this season. They are 3-4 in those games with three of the losses ending on walk-offs. Last season, Stony Brook participated in 19 one-run affairs.
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 (21), 10th in strikeouts (186) and third in innings pitched (310). Senior Frankie Vanderka is fourth in complete games (13) among Seawolves in the Div. I era (2000-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.
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.
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.
Up Next: The #Seawolves will play NYIT at home on Tuesday, go on the road to face Sacred Heart on Wednesday and then travel to Hartford for a three-game weekend series Saturday through Sunday.