#Seawolves host Binghamton in three-game series this weekend
April 11, 2014
2014 Stony Brook Baseball
Q&A with Matt Senk (ESPN.com)
Stony Brook, N.Y. -
Stony Brook #Seawolves (17-11, 4-1 America East)
The Matchup: The #Seawolves return to America East competition this weekend with a three-game home series against the Binghamton Bearcats. Stony Brook is currently in first place in the conference, percentage points ahead of Hartford. After starting 1-4, Binghamton swept UMBC last weekend to recover to 4-4 and now sit in fourth place in the conference, half a game head of Albany. The two teams split six games last season, but will only be playing each other three times this season.
Last Weekend: Stony Brook participated in the Dodd Stadium College Baseball Classic last weekend and took two out of three from two of New England's better baseball programs in Bryant and Connecticut. The#Seawolves topped Bryant, 8-5, after coming back from four down early. Then they topped UConn, 6-3, coming back from a 3-1 deficit. The #Seawolves played Bryant again in the finale and lost a close 4-3 decision. Cole Peragine had the weekend's big hit, launching a three-run homer in the ninth inning against Bryant to break a 5-5 tie that led to the victory. He had five RBI over the three games. Robert Chavarria andJohnny Caputo both went 6-for-12 over the three games. Tim Knesnik was solid in relief, earning a victory in the UConn game while throwing five shutout innings.
Hot Bats: Stony Brook's bats have taken off over the last seven games, hitting .333 with 55 runs scored. In particular, the bats were working on April 9 vs. Manhattan when the #Seawolves scored a season-high 16 runs, including 10 in the first two innings. Stony Brook has had double-digit hits in six of the last seven games played. In the seven-game span, freshman Toby Handley is hitting .733 (11-15).
MacEachern Earns the Nod: Stony Brook freshman Ryley MacEachern was named America East Rookie of the Week after pitching his first career complete game shutout in a 1-0 win over Hartford on March 29. MacEachern scattered just three hits and allowed only one Hawks baserunner to reach second base over the seven innings. He struck out seven batters and did not walk a batter.
Chavy's Hot: Second baseman Robert Chavarria has been enjoying a great stretch for the #Seawolves. Over the last 18 games, he's hitting .391 (25-64) with 15 runs scored, nine RBI, 11 walks and four stolen bases.
Pitch Perfect: Stony Brook is 12-3 over its last 15 games and that's largely due to the outstanding pitching the team has received. In the 15-game span, Stony Brook has held its opponents to a .207 batting average and just 36 runs. The team has a 2.29 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 129-2/3 innings. The starting pitching in particular has been phenomenal, holding opponents to 26 runs over 86 innings (2.41 ERA) while limiting them to a .202 average.
No-Hit X 3: Frankie Vanderka pitched his third career no-hitter on March 22 when he blanked Albany over nine innings in a 7-0 victory. Vanderka struck out 10 in the game, including the final batter, Brian Bullard, to clinch it. Vanderka is the ONLY active pitcher in NCAA Div. I to throw multiple no-hitters. For his efforts, Vanderka was showered with a slew of awards - he was named America East Pitcher of the Week, NCBWA National Pitcher of the Week, Louisville Slugger Collegiate Baseball Newspaper National Player of the Week, CollegeBaseballInsider.com National Pitcher of the Week, ECAC Metro-Upstate Pitcher of the Week and NCAA.com Top Performer of the Week.
A Stepping Stone to Success: Freshman Cameron Stone of West Haven, Conn., is having a nice start to his collegiate career. He has quickly developed into an option in the late innings, posting 26 strikeouts in 20-1/3 innings pitched and earning five 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). He locked down Stony Brook's 7-3 win over Albany (March 22) with two shutout innings. He came into the seventh inning vs. Marist (April 1) with the tying run on deck and got out of a bases loaded jam and went on to earn the save.
Close Affairs: Stony Brook is quickly gaining an appreciation for playing in tight games. The #Seawolves have already had 11 of their 24 games decided by one run this season. They are 5-6 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 77-30 (.720) in conference play since the start of the 2010 season with two regular season (2011, 2012) and two tournament (2010, 2012) championships.
Chavy and Stone Honored: In addition to Vanderka earning America East Pitcher of the Week honors, two other #Seawolves captured weekly conference awards as Robert Chavarria was named Player of the Week and Cameron Stone was tabbed Rookie of the Week. Chavarria hit .421 and scored eight runs in five games, including scoring game-winning runs against USC and Albany. Stone picked up two saves after pitching 4-1/3 shutout innings, closing out wins over USC and Albany, the win over the Trojans being the first the school's ever recorded against a Pac-12 member.
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 recently 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.
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.
In the Record Books: Senior Brandon McNitt is fifth in program history in wins (22), ninth in strikeouts (192) and third in innings pitched (317). Senior Frankie Vanderka is tied for second in complete games (15) 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: Stony Brook will host Rhode Island on Wednesday at Joe Nathan Field at 3:30 p.m. Then the #Seawolves will hit the road for an America East three-game series at UMass Lowell next weekend.