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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Stony Brook baseball stays alive in playoff hunt with sweep of Monmouth

Starting pitcher Ben Fero throws a pitch against Monmouth on Friday, May 12. Fero pitched eight innings and earned the win in the last home start of his NCAA career. TIM GIORLANDO/THE STATESMAN

With the season on the line after being swept by Delaware, the Stony Brook baseball team pulled off the sweep it needed to remain in the playoff hunt.

In their final series at Joe Nathan Field this year, the Seawolves (22-27, 13-14 CAA) did their jobs and swept the Monmouth Hawks over the weekend. Stony Brook opened the series with a 12-4 blowout victory on Friday before clinching the series with another dominant 8-3 win on Saturday. The team honored its seniors on Sunday by securing the sweep and beating Monmouth 8-5.

In the series opener, starting pitcher Ben Fero took the mound and bounced back from his previous start. Stony Brook gave him some early run support in the bottom of the second inning when catcher Ryan Micheli lined a two-run single into right field. Right fielder Matty Wright followed Micheli up with a groundout up the middle to score another run, making it 3-0 Seawolves.

Fero fed off that energy and retired the first 11 hitters he faced. Monmouth first baseman Jay Bant broke up Fero’s shot at perfection in the top of the fourth inning when he skied a routine fly ball into center field that Derek Yalon lost in the sun. The ball fell in for a hit, and Fero walked the next batter. However, Fero escaped the jam unscathed by getting Monmouth right fielder Ben Winstead to ground out.

Though the defense behind Fero got sloppy behind him at times, he never lost trust in them.

“That stuff happens,” Fero said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “Derek’s the best center fielder and [Matt] Miceli’s the best shortstop I could ask for, so I just let them put the ball in play again and I know they’ll make the play next time.”

The Seawolves continued to score for Fero in their next two turn at-bats. In the bottom of the fourth inning, second baseman Evan Fox ripped a two-out RBI single into left field to make it 4-0. In the next inning, with two runners in scoring position and only one out, first baseman Brett Paulsen lined a two-run single up the middle to give Stony Brook a six-run lead.

Monmouth finally broke through against Fero in the top of the seventh inning when second baseman Andrew Schmid hit a sacrifice fly to right field, driving in Winstead with the Hawks’ first run. However, Stony Brook scored six more runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to put the game out of reach.

A throwing error by Monmouth third baseman Will Trochiano brought the first run of the frame in, and then a two-run single by left fielder Matt Brown-Eiring put Stony Brook up by eight runs. Yalon made up for his earlier blunder in center field with an RBI single up the middle, and Paulsen put the game away with a two-run double into left field.

Fero went back out to pitch the top of the ninth inning and tried to finish what he started. However, he allowed back-to-back singles to lead off the frame and head coach Matt Senk pulled him in favor of relief pitcher Brandon Lashley. Monmouth scored three meaningless runs off of Lashley and the first two were charged to Fero, which slightly spoiled his final line.

Even with the ninth inning, Fero still allowed only three runs on six hits in eight innings pitched while striking out three and walking one. He earned the win in his last-ever start at home, bringing his record to 5-4 on the year.

“I’m not too much of a sentimental guy,” Fero said. “I love it; this has been my home for five years. I couldn’t have asked anything more of Coach Senk or any of the other coaches. But right now, my mind is on ‘Let’s get into the conference tourney and then we’ll shed some tears after the season’s over.”

The next day was similar. Stony Brook jumped out to a commanding lead, got effective starting pitching and then allowed meaningless runs late in the game. Starting pitcher Josh O’Neill allowed only three runs on four hits in seven innings pitched while striking out five batters and walking only two.

Monmouth drew first blood in the top of the second inning when Schmid drove in a run with a groundout to first base. Stony Brook responded immediately with back-to-back doubles from Yalon and Paulsen to lead off the bottom of the second inning. Now with the game tied 1-1, shortstop Matt Miceli blooped an RBI double into right field to put the Seawolves on top. A walk to Micheli and a hit batsman on Wright loaded the bases for Fox, who pulled a two-run single into left field to make it 4-1.

In the bottom of the third inning, Yalon came in to score on a wild pitch to extend Stony Brook’s lead. In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Seawolves put the game away with a solo homer down the left-field line by Fox and a two-run triple from Yalon, giving themselves an 8-1 lead.

From that point forward, the game was in O’Neill’s hands. In the top of the seventh inning, Trochiano grounded a two-run single through the middle of the diamond to drive in a pair, cutting Stony Brook’s lead down to just five runs. Despite this, O’Neill finished the seventh inning and avoided further damage before giving way to relief pitcher Kyle Johnson.

O’Neill credits his performance to having strong command of his whole pitch repertoire.

“I had everything,” O’Neill said. “We were mixing in changeups to righties. We knew they were going to swing early [in counts], so I was just attacking, limiting the free bases and trusting our defense.”

Johnson pitched two scoreless innings while working around a single and two hit-by-pitches, securing the series victory and setting up a potential sweep on senior day.

Before game three, Stony Brook honored all of its seniors and graduate students. Monmouth played the Seawolves more competitively, but third baseman Evan Giordano and relief pitcher Nick DeGennaro helped carry their team to a victory in their final games at Nathan.

Stony Brook struck first in the bottom of the third inning with a sacrifice fly from Wright, and Fox followed him by driving a two-run home run out to left-center field. However, Monmouth got two of those runs back in the top of the fourth inning with an RBI single from Winstead and a sacrifice fly from catcher Mason Wolf.

Miceli drove in an insurance run in the home half of the fourth inning when he bounced a potential double-play ground ball to shortstop. Monmouth shortstop Austin Denlinger tried to start a 6-4-3 double play, but he threw it wide of second base and into right field, allowing Paulsen to score from first base.

In the next inning, Giordano banged an RBI triple off the batter’s eye in center field to drive in Fox from first base. Designated hitter Shane Paradine drove Giordano in with an RBI infield single to shortstop, making it 6-2 Stony Brook.

Monmouth continued to fight back against starting pitcher Eddie Smink. With two outs in the inning, Wolf tripled to deep center field to drive in a run. After that, Monmouth left fielder Aidan Bretschneider launched a two-run homer to left field, cutting Stony Brook’s lead down to just one. Senk pulled Smink in favor of DeGennaro, who battled his way to a 10-out save.

DeGennaro allowed a double and a hit batsman to the first two hitters he faced, but induced a ground ball out to preserve the Seawolves’ lead. Giordano then doubled the lead in the bottom of the seventh inning by smoking an RBI double past Monmouth first baseman Phil Stahl and into the right-field corner. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Miceli grounded into a double play that scored Yalon to give his team a three-run cushion.

DeGennaro continued to struggle with his command in the top of the ninth inning, but he got a double-play ground ball and pitched out of a jam to lock down the save and the sweep.

Despite allowing five hits and a walk, DeGennaro pitched 3 ⅓ scoreless innings while striking out three batters. He got around his command issues by pitching to his defense and letting them make the plays for him.

“When you struggle with command, you’ll find yourself 2-0 or 3-1,” DeGennaro said. “My command wasn’t really there, but when it was a hitter’s count, I was able to execute my pitches. I was just trying to get it in that square and let my defense do the job.”

Giordano had a rough weekend, going just 1-for-10 with just one run scored and three strikeouts through the first two games. However, he ended his career at Nathan with a bang, going 2-for-4 with a double, a triple, two RBIs and a run on senior day.

Giordano’s strong finish to the series stemmed from a mental adjustment made during game three.

“I think I was trying to do too much the last two days,” Giordano said. “I talked to Coach and he told me just to simplify things, so that’s what I tried doing in those last two AB’s.”

Senk was thrilled with the effort his team gave over the weekend.

“I’m really pleased with the guys; I’m excited for them,” Senk said. “We’re going into the last weekend in this new, very competitive and challenging conference and … we’re in a position to take care of our business and end up in the tournament. It’s been great to see how the guys have adapted. It’s eye-opening.”

Stony Brook’s bats were very good in this series. Fox stood out once again, going 6-for-14 with two home runs, six RBIs, four runs scored and two stolen bases. The second stolen base, which came on Saturday, was his 36th of the season. That number tied Travis Jankowski’s 2012 total for most steals in a single season by a Seawolf.

Fox was happy to tie the record, but he has his eyes set on bigger things.

“It’s awesome,” Fox said. “It’s a big part of my game, and I love getting on and running. The job’s not done yet. My goal now is to get to 40.”

Paradine had a productive weekend, going 4-for-10 with two doubles, an RBI, three runs and four walks. Yalon went 5-for-11 with a double, a triple, three RBIs, five runs and two walks. Paulsen stayed red-hot, going 7-for-12 with two doubles, five RBIs, three runs and a hit-by-pitch. Micheli went 3-for-10 with a double, two RBIs, three runs, a walk, a hit-by-pitch and a steal.

Both Miceli and Brown-Eiring had productive weekends, hitting safely in all three games.

The Seawolves will return to action on Thursday down in Maryland against the last-place Towson Tigers. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. Stony Brook will need to win out and need either Delaware or William & Mary to be swept in order for it to make the 2023 Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) baseball tournament. Even if that happens, the Seawolves will still need Elon to beat Hofstra at least once.

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About the Contributor
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.
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