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Stony Brook baseball upsets No. 2/3 LSU in historic game, splits weekend

Shortstop Matt Miceli participates in a fielding drill during practice on Jan. 24. Miceli went 5-for-16 this past weekend down in Louisiana. BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

Following a rough opening weekend, the Stony Brook baseball team bounced back in a big way by bringing the Louisiana State University (LSU) faithful some déjà vu.

The Seawolves (3-5) made the trip to Alex Box Stadium in Louisiana — the home of the No. 2/3 LSU Tigers — this past weekend and split a pair of doubleheaders, with one notable win outshining the other three contests. On Friday morning, Stony Brook was defeated 5-2 by the Northwestern State Demons (2-5) before responding with a 5-2 win of its own later that day over LSU (7-1). The team carried its momentum into Saturday, as it beat Northwestern State 5-1 before falling to the Tigers 18-10 on Sunday.

The Seawolves sent starting pitcher Ty Saunders to the mound against the Demons on Friday morning. Batting with one out in the bottom of the third inning, Northwestern State left fielder Balin Valentine threatened the confines of Alex Box with a triple off the center-field fence. With the lineup turned over, center fielder Reese Lipoma lifted a fly ball to right field, allowing Valentine to tag up and score.

The Demons doubled their lead in the next inning when right fielder Colin Rains lined an opposite-field triple to drive in another run. Stony Brook got one back in the top of the fifth inning when right fielder Chris Carson notched his first career hit and run batted in (RBI) by singling home shortstop Matt Miceli.

The comeback hopes were short-lived. In the bottom of the fifth frame, Northwestern State third baseman Rocco Gump pulled an RBI single before catcher Bo Willis lifted a sacrifice fly. Two innings later, Willis singled home another run to stretch the Demons’ lead to 5-1.

In the top of the eighth inning, left fielder Matt Brown-Eiring skied an opposite-field home run over the right-field fence to make things interesting. However, Northwestern State relief pitcher Caleb Bunch retired four of the next five hitters to hand the Seawolves the loss.

Later that day, Stony Brook met up with LSU: the defending national champions. However, for the Tigers, the matchup played out more like the Super Regional of the 2012 NCAA baseball tournament rather than the 2023 Men’s College World Series.

Facing an uphill battle, the Seawolves sent ace starting pitcher Eddie Smink to the bump against LSU starting pitcher Thatcher Hurd. In the top of the second inning, Brown-Eiring and first baseman Brett Paulsen set it up with well-struck singles before shortstop Matt Miceli poked one into center field to drive in the game’s first run.

Right fielder Rob Taylor followed Miceli with a line drive to right field. With the help of the late-afternoon sun, Taylor’s screaming line drive eluded right fielder Josh Pearson, allowing Paulsen to score and make it 2-0.

The sun played a factor in the bottom of the second inning, as well. With two runners aboard, center fielder Paxton Kling laced one into center field with two runners in scoring position. Center fielder Cam Santerre battled the glare and lost, as the ball knocked off his wrist before rolling away to allow both runners to score. However, Smink kept calm and limited the damage before tossing a scoreless third frame.

In the top of the fourth inning, with Hurd’s command failing him, Santerre made up for his error by working a bases-loaded walk to put Stony Brook back in front with two outs. Hurd struck out third baseman Evan Goforth to escape further trouble, but with how Smink was dealing, the damage had already been done.

Smink struck out the side in the bottom of the fourth inning before getting a double play to help him toss a scoreless fifth.

Smink threw 97 pitches through five innings and allowed just two runs (one earned) on five hits while striking out seven and walking three. To start the bottom of the sixth inning, head coach Matt Senk turned to designated hitter Erik Paulsen, who came in to relieve Smink.

With two on and two out in his first inning of work, Paulsen escaped the jam by getting LSU shortstop Michael Braswell III to roll over to Miceli.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, Paulsen got designated hitter Hayden Travinski to ground into a double play to end the Tigers’ threat and retire the side.

To lead off the top of the eighth inning, Brown-Eiring dribbled an infield single off relief pitcher Griffin Herring and Brett Paulsen followed with his third single of the game. After a walk to Erik Paulsen loaded the bases, LSU head coach Jay Johnson went back to the bullpen in favor of relief pitcher Samuel Dutton, who started Taylor off with a pair of fastballs.

Dutton went to his heater one too many times, as Taylor ripped the next four-seamer he saw into the left-field corner to plate Brown-Eiring and Brett Paulsen. The Seawolves threatened for more, but Dutton struck out catcher Chris Leone to end the half-inning.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Erik Paulsen went back to work on the mound and retired the side in order. Stony Brook failed to give Paulsen any extra breathing room in the top of the ninth, but he did not need it.

After a leadoff single in the home half of the ninth inning, Paulsen retired the next three batters to finish a four-inning save and officially shock the world one more time.

The performances of Smink and Erik Paulsen as well as the timely hits had Senk ecstatic after the win.

“Game two was about the one-two punch on the mound of starter Eddie Smink and Erik Paulsen in relief,” Senk said in a postgame interview with Stony Brook Athletics. “They both were terrific. Credit to the hitters for correcting their anxiousness and lack of patience in game one. They had a lot of quality at-bats and timely hits to help earn the victory over an outstanding LSU team.”

On Saturday, the Seawolves sent starting pitcher Nick Rizzo to the mound for round two redemption game against Northwestern State on Saturday. Both sides exchanged zeros over the first two-and-a-half innings, with Rizzo matching starting pitcher Dylan Marionneaux.

In the bottom of the third inning, second baseman Evan Fox walked with one out before swiping second base. Santerre chopped one over to shortstop Cole Hill, who fielded the ball before unleashing a wild throw to first base, allowing Fox to round third and score. After a pickoff attempt on Santerre went awry, Brown-Eiring cashed in on another miscue by the Demons to double Stony Brook’s lead.

The added insurance proved to be crucial, as Willis greeted Rizzo with a solo home run in the top of the fourth inning. However, Fox got the run right back with an RBI single up the middle to make it 3-1.

The Seawolves tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning on a double deep into the right-center field gap by Taylor, scoring Erik Paulsen and Miceli.

From there, Rizzo’s show continued, as the young left-hander worked all the way through the end of the eighth inning. Rizzo allowed just one run while scattering eight hits in as many innings of work. He struck out four hitters and only walked one.

In the ninth inning, Senk turned to relief pitcher Ty Stout, who worked around two singles to lock down the win.

Senk commended his young lefty and gave praise to the entire squad for the dominant team victory.

What a way to earn your first collegiate win,” Senk said. “Nick’s performance was complimented by some excellent, errorless defense, timely hitting … as well as an overall 10-hit attack.”

Sunday afternoon’s matchup gave the Tigers another crack at Stony Brook, which they did not waste. Starting pitcher Colton Book did not even finish the bottom of the first inning, as he surrendered five runs on four hits while walking three and committing a throwing error on a pickoff try. Braswell III blew the doors open with a three-run triple. Stout finished the first, but then he was given the same treatment in the next frame.

Stout conceded another five runs in the bottom of the second inning, punctuated by a two-RBI single by LSU third baseman Tommy White that he ripped right through the middle.

After falling behind 10-0 just two innings in, the game was already over for the Seawolves. However, they did not waste their at-bats. Santerre lined the first home run of his NCAA Division I career in the top of the third for a two-run shot, and second baseman Johnny Pilla belted a pinch-hit three-run bomb in the top of the fifth. Pilla’s homer was the first of his collegiate career.

Following Pilla, a walk to Carson and a pinch-hit single by third baseman Joe DeLanzo set up right fielder Matty Wright, who subbed in for Brown-Eiring. Wright ripped one off the right-field wall to double in a run. Third baseman Cal Parillo followed him by lining a two-run double while pinch hitting for Brett Paulsen to cap off a six-run top of the fifth inning for Stony Brook, cutting its deficit to 13-8.

The Tigers put the game away for good in the bottom of the sixth inning after loading the bases with a trio of walks against relief pitcher Jerek Hobb, who was pulled in favor of fellow relief pitcher Ty Panariello. Travinski greeted Panariello with a bases-clearing double. Travinski then scored on a sacrifice fly by second baseman Steven Milam.

In the top of the seventh inning, designated hitter Nick Solorzano roped a two-run double into the left-center field gap, allowing the Seawolves to crack double digits. Milam tacked on the finishing touches to the blowout with an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth.

Brown-Eiring led the Seawolves’ offense over the weekend by going 5-for-13 over the weekend with his first home run of the year, two RBIs, three runs scored, two walks and a stolen base. Taylor’s three doubles and five RBIs led the team, as he went 4-for-10 overall.

Miceli helped their cause by going 5-for-16 with a double, an RBI, a steal and four runs. Brett Paulsen went 4-for-10 with two runs scored and had three hits in four at-bats in the upset win over LSU. Fox went 3-for-11 with a double, one RBI, two runs, four walks, a hit-by-pitch and four steals.

Relief pitcher J.T. Raab hurled three innings of one-run baseball while allowing two hits and a pair of walks. He also struck out two.

Stony Brook will hit the road again next week with another tough matchup against the Virginia Tech Hokies. The Hokies are 5-2 after a dominating sweep over Rhode Island this past weekend and will play Radford on Tuesday before their three-game set with Seawolves. First pitch for the series opener is set for noon on Friday.

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