The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

46° Stony Brook, NY
The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

Newsletter

Good offense, improved pitching figures to guide Stony Brook baseball in 2023

Third baseman Evan Giordano taking an at-bat in a scrimmage on Friday, Feb. 10. The reigning America East Player of the Year will look to lead Stony Brook baseball to a successful 2023. KAT PROCACCI/THE STATESMAN

Though the overall record does not show it, the 2022 Stony Brook baseball team was a special one. 

After having their 2021 season spoiled by rain, the Seawolves had their 2022 season begin with a ban from the postseason tournament. In return, they won the 2022 America East Conference (AE) regular season title for the third consecutive year and the seventh time in program history. Now in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), Stony Brook has a chance to get back to the NCAA tournament, but a much tougher route to get there.

The 27-25 record from 2022 was not pretty; what was pretty was the conference record. Stony Brook went 21-9 in conference games, winning nine of its 10 series. The mediocre overall record was to be expected, as Stony Brook lost three starting pitchers and three good hitters after the 2021 season ended. However, losing starting pitcher and staff ace Nick DeGennaro to injury was unexpected, and it put the Seawolves in a big hole. 

Without the same dominant starting pitching rotation from 2021, Stony Brook lived and died by its offense for most of the 2022 season. Luckily, its offense was still good enough to secure another regular season championship. 

The offense was led by third baseman Evan Giordano, who won the 2022 AE Player of the Year award. Giordano batted .333 last year with a .442 on-base percentage and a .628 slugging percentage. His 1.070 on-base plus slugging (OPS) led the AE in 2022. He raked in 13 doubles and 13 home runs last year while collecting 49 RBIs. His 13 home runs are tied for the fourth-most in program history. He also walked a team-leading 32 times while only striking out 25 times in 183 at-bats.

Giordano, a two-time All-Conference First Team selection, boasts a career .320/.416/.541 slash line with Stony Brook. Now in his fifth and final season, Giordano’s goal is to make it back to the NCAA Regionals, where Stony Brook has not been since 2019.

Giordano also put in more work to get better defensively this year. He struggled at third base last year, causing him to prioritize his defense this past off-season.

“I would say I’ve put in more work defensively than usual,” Giordano said in an interview with The Statesman. “I’ve been focusing on my throwing, because I think most of my errors last year were throwing errors. It’s improved, so I’m looking forward to see what happens during the season.”

Across the infield from Giordano is first baseman Brett Paulsen, who is one of the best contact hitters and opposite-field hitters on the team. Paulsen batted .279 last year after batting .278 in 2021. After handling the first base position well last year (one error in 362 chances), the former second baseman will stay put in 2023.

Setting the table for Stony Brook’s offense will be Evan Fox. Fox was an AE All-Rookie selection in 2021 and broke out last year. He slashed .322/.430/.546 for Stony Brook with 14 doubles, five triples and five home runs. The speedster made a big impact on the bases, as he led the team with 44 runs scored and stole 31 bases in 33 attempts.

“I’ll bat wherever they need me, but I’m geared up to be the one-hitter,” Fox said. “I want to get on and get everything going for the team.”

After playing primarily left field in 2021, Fox moved back to his natural position of second base in 2022. This year, head coach Matt Senk intends to use him as a utility player. He will likely alternate between center field, left field and second base this year.

“Evan Fox has been a utility player for us; he’s done a little bit of everything,” Senk said. “This fall, he played an outstanding center field. He’ll be in the lineup, and he gives us an outfield option and an option at second base.”

In the middle infield, the Seawolves have some questions. After shortstop Stanton Leuthner transferred to Southern Florida, Stony Brook acquired middle infielder Anthony Gentile through the transfer portal. Gentile, a sophomore who played at Merrimack last year, is a switch-hitter who will likely see time at shortstop this year. In 2021, Gentile batted .259 in 54 at-bats. 

Matt Miceli is another sophomore middle infielder who has a chance to start at shortstop. Last year, Miceli batted .200 in a part-time role. On days when Fox is playing the outfield, one of them may play short, while the other plays second base.

Behind the plate, Stony Brook is in great shape. Catcher Shane Paradine is an All-Conference player who has batted over .300 each of the last two years. He is an elite contact hitter with only 38 career strikeouts in 373 at-bats. He has some power, too, slugging .519 in 2021 and .455 in 2022. His 15 doubles were second on the team last year. He will be in the lineup every day; Senk plans to use him as a designated hitter when he is not catching.

Now a senior, Paradine plans to use his experience to help the team win.

“You can expect a veteran presence, that’s my main focus,” Paradine said. “I’ve been here long, I know how the game is played. I know what the expectations are here at Stony Brook. Favorite part of my day is living up to those expectations.”

Backing him up are sophomore Chris Leone and junior Ryan Micheli. Leone will likely be the one who gets playing time behind the plate, as Micheli was used mostly as a designated hitter last year. Leone has the strongest arm of all the catchers on the team and also boasts good speed. Micheli has a lot of power, hitting seven doubles and two home runs as a rotational player last year.

The outfield has some good bats, too. Outfielder Matt Brown-Eiring led the team with 16 doubles and 50 RBIs last season. He slashed .296/.368/.552, earning himself a First Team All-AE selection. His 10 home runs were the second most on the team, and he also played an excellent left field.

When Fox is not in center field, freshman Matty Wright figures to be the guy. He is a fast runner with a lefty bat who plays a good center field. If not Wright, sophomore Matt DeStefano is a candidate for the job. DeStefano is another speedster who was frequently used as a pinch-runner in 2022.

“Matty [Wright] is right in the thick of things,” Senk said. “Matt DeStefano went down to a summer league in Florida and made the all-star game there and played a ton of center field. He came back very confident in his defensive skills. We’re in good shape in the outfield.”

Rounding out the outfield is Derek Yalon, who was the regular right fielder last year. Senk did not rule out playing Yalon in center field, but the likelihood is that he plays in the corner again. Yalon batted .242 with a .333 on-base percentage last season, but he finished 12 for his last 31 during the final three weeks of the season. As of now, he is a frontrunner to start.

As for the arms, Stony Brook is much improved. The team pitched to a 6.17 ERA last year, but that should get better, as many pitchers who saw action last year had little to no experience. 

The improvement of the pitching staff starts with DeGennaro’s return. With him healthy, Stony Brook has a true ace to the rotation.

“Deg looks terrific,” Senk said. “Deg is in the best shape of the entire time he’s ever been here. He regrouped and has worked hard and is in great shape. The ball’s coming out of his hand great. He looks like the old Deg.”

DeGennaro is excited to get to work with this team, which he thinks can rival the last championship-contending Stony Brook squad.

“I love the squad we have this year; we’re very talented,” DeGennaro said. “I’d put us up there with the 2021 team, who I think is probably the best team I’ve ever played on.”

After DeGennaro in the rotation is graduate Ben Fero, who earned a Second Team All-Conference selection last year as the team’s number one starter. Fero pitched to a 4.54 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP and led the team with 69 ⅓ innings. 

The number three starter and the mid-week game starter are still to be determined, but Stony Brook has several good options.

Sophomore lefty Colton Book made the AE All-Rookie team last year. He finished the season with a 5.19 ERA, but that statistic is skewed. Book owned a 3.35 ERA before his final two starts of the season, in which he allowed 12 earned runs in just 4 ⅔ innings. 

Sophomore J.T. Raab is another candidate for the rotation. He missed his whole freshman season last year while recovering from Tommy John Surgery. However, the 6-foot-5 right-hander is a power pitcher with good stuff and has a chance to make an impact this year.

“J.T. is awesome,” Senk said. “He’s been great. I saw him over the summer, and he looked good. I think, generally speaking, he will help us. He has a high ceiling.”

Senior Brandon Lashley is another option for the rotation. He was second on the team in innings but struggled with his consistency. His role is to be determined.

Another pitcher in the mix for the starting rotation is graduate Jared Bellissimo. Bellissimo is a left-hander who spent the last four years with Rutgers. His numbers were not great, as he pitched to a 4.77 ERA during his career there. 

The bullpen has a couple of really good arms in it. Junior Brendan Pattermann was the best relief pitcher on the staff for most of last year. He pitched to a 3.92 ERA in 43 ⅔ innings in 2022. 

Senior Josh O’Neill turned into a weapon after moving to the bullpen. He finished the year with a 3.97 ERA and a .244 batting average against over 59 innings. Starting with a scoreless outing last March 22, O’Neill pitched to a 2.18 ERA in 45 ⅓ innings over his final 11 appearances.

Graduate Kyle Johnson was a Second Team All-AE selection in 2021 as the team’s number one bullpen option. That year, he held opponents to a .184 batting average while pitching to a 3.76 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. Last year, he was hit hard, posting an ERA over 7.00. If he can bounce back, he could potentially be a dark horse for the Seawolves. 

“We’re still trying to figure out roles with Kyle,” Senk said. “We know that if we gave him the ball, he would compete.”

Left-hander Devin Sharkey is in a similar position to Johnson. Sharkey posted a 3.38 ERA and a .192 batting average against in 2021, but could not throw strikes last year. Pitching like the 2021 version of himself would give the Seawolves a dangerous southpaw to use late in games.

Senk mentioned three freshmen pitchers who may play big roles right away. A pair of lefties — Sadier Vicioso and Jerek Hobb — may contribute as relievers this year. As for right-hander Eddie Smink, he has a live arm and may be a key pitcher for them.

“A big X factor for us will be Eddie Smink,” Senk said. “He’s touching 95 [miles per hour]. He’s sitting 92-93. He’s a real good arm.”

Mixing a strong core of veteran hitters with an experienced group of talented pitchers bodes well for Stony Brook. In the CAA preseason poll, the Seawolves were picked to finish in sixth place, which would be good enough for a playoff spot. If the offensive production remains the same and the pitching staff continues to improve, then they may finish even higher than that.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Statesman

Your donation will support the student journalists of Stony Brook University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Mike Anderson
Mike Anderson, Sports Editor
Mike Anderson is the Sports Editor at The Statesman. He is a senior majoring in journalism with aspirations of becoming a sports journalist. His love of sports comes from his time spent as a baseball player. As a reporter for The Statesman, he has covered baseball, softball, football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, men's and women's lacrosse, women's volleyball and hockey. He has also interned at Axcess Sports as a high school and college baseball and softball reporter. He is a local product from Port Jefferson, N.Y. and is a diehard Mets, Jets, Nets and Islanders fan.
Donate to The Statesman

Comments (0)

All The Statesman Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *