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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Stony Brook baseball rallies to salvage series at Virginia Tech

Second baseman Evan Fox prepares to throw the ball in practice on Jan. 24. Fox went 5-for-14 with a double, two runs scored and a stolen base this past weekend at Virginia Tech. BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

Despite a tough start to the weekend, an exciting finish allowed the Stony Brook baseball team to walk away with its third win over a Power Five team this year.

Down in Virginia, the Seawolves (4-7) dropped two out of three games to the Virginia Tech Hokies (8-3) this past weekend. They opened the series with a 6-3 loss on Friday before being blown out 11-5 on Saturday. On Sunday, Stony Brook avoided the series sweep and came from behind to win 4-3.

The Seawolves’ bats could not touch Virginia Tech starting pitcher Brett Renfrow, who tossed six scoreless innings on just 70 pitches. Renfrow scattered six hits and struck out seven batters without issuing a walk en route to his third win in as many starts.

The Hokies gave their ace some run support in the bottom of the third inning when second baseman Christian Martin doubled home a run off starting pitcher Eddie Smink. Two batters later, left fielder Chris Cannizzaro ripped a double into left field to drive in Martin.

The score stayed 2-0 until the bottom of the sixth inning, when Virginia Tech designated hitter Eddie Micheletti Jr. grounded a run-scoring single through the left side. Right fielder Sam Tackett lifted a sacrifice fly to center field to make it 4-0.

In the top of the seventh inning, Stony Brook loaded the bases with two outs for third baseman Evan Goforth, who bounced a ground ball to his counterpart. The Hokies had a chance to get out of it, but third baseman Carson DeMartini sailed his throw and allowed two unearned runs to score. Now with two runners in scoring position, left fielder Matt Brown-Eiring was intentionally walked to reload the bases for first baseman Brett Paulsen, who drew a four-pitch walk to force in a run.

With a chance to both tie the game and take the lead, right fielder Rob Taylor lined one the other way, but he did his job too well and Tackett put him away to retire the side.

Virginia Tech relief pitcher Brady Kirtner held his team’s lead and got the first two outs in the top of the eighth inning before head coach John Szefc pulled him in favor of fellow relief pitcher Jacob Stretch. Stretch finished the job for the Hokies, picking up a four-out save while surrendering just a single to Brown-Eiring and striking out a pair.

Game two got off to a perfect start for the Seawolves. With a runner on first base and two outs in the top of the first inning, designated hitter Erik Paulsen crushed a two-run bomb to center field for his first career home run at the NCAA level. However, starting pitcher Ty Saunders did not do well with the run support his teammates gave him.

With two runners on and two out in the bottom of the first inning, Tackett picked up a run batted in (RBI) with a single up the middle to get his team on the board. Right after him, Virginia Tech center fielder Ben Watson worked a full count before launching a three-run homer to dead center on the ninth pitch of the at-bat, giving his team a 4-2 lead. Two innings later, Tackett lifted one over the center-field wall.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Saunders walked the bases loaded before head coach Matt Senk pulled him and gave the ball to relief pitcher Colin Rhein. The first batter he faced — Cannizzaro — flied out to right field, allowing a runner to tag up and score.

Losing 6-2 in the top of the sixth inning, Stony Brook loaded the bases for Taylor, who pulled an RBI single into left field. However, catcher Nick Solorzano grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to retire the side.

The Hokies put the game out of reach in the home half of the sixth frame, starting with an opposite-field triple by Cannizzaro to score Martin from first base and chase Rhein from the game. Senk turned to relief pitcher Colton Book, who allowed an RBI double to Micheletti Jr. on his first pitch. The next batter — Tackett — repeated history, as he singled to score Micheletti Jr. on the first delivery, putting the Seawolves in a 9-3 hole.

One inning later, Virginia Tech shortstop Clay Grady made it 10-3 with a sacrifice fly to right field. Stony Brook scored one run in both the top of the eighth and ninth frames, but Micheletti Jr. hit a solo shot between those.

The Seawolves turned to starting pitcher Nick Rizzo on Sunday to try and play stopper, and he did his part, but they almost let him down. Rizzo allowed just one run on six hits over 5 ⅓ innings, striking out three Hokies and walking only one. The one run he allowed came on a sacrifice fly by Micheletti Jr. in the bottom of the third, and that was the only scoring the game saw until the top of the seventh.

Stony Brook’s bats had no answer for Virginia Tech starting pitcher Griffin Stieg, who held them scoreless over 5 ⅔ innings. He surrendered just five hits and two walks while striking out five hitters. Relief pitcher David Shoemaker finished the top of the sixth inning for Stieg and started the seventh, where the Seawolves finally mustered something up.

Right fielder Chris Carson reached on a fielder’s choice before Szefc pulled Shoemaker and gave the ball to Stretch. Carson welcomed Stretch by stealing second base, causing chaos for the Hokies’ defense. Virginia Tech catcher Henry Cooke sailed his throw into center field, allowing Carson to get up and advance to third. Watson backed the play up and tried to throw Carson out, but he hooked his throw wide and allowed him to score the tying run.

With the save blown, Stretch started the top of the eighth inning and issued a single to Goforth before walking second baseman Johnny Pilla on four pitches. Szefc turned to Kirtner to get out of the jam, but once again, the Hokies’ defense let their bullpen down.

With two men on and one away, Brett Paulsen bounced a potential double play ball to Grady, who flipped it to second base for the first out. However, Martin’s throw went haywire, allowing Goforth to come around and score the go-ahead run.

With one last chance for insurance, Stony Brook’s offense got the job done in the top of the ninth inning. A walk to Carson, a single by second baseman Evan Fox and an intentional pass to Brown-Eiring loaded the bases with one out, forcing Szefc to bring in left-handed relief pitcher Jordan Vera to face the left-handed hitting Erik Paulsen with the bags juiced. However, Vera walked him on four pitches to make it 3-1. He was then pulled immediately in favor of relief pitcher Grant Manning, who allowed a sacrifice fly to Goforth.

Those two runs made all the difference for the Seawolves. Erik Paulsen — who relieved Rizzo after his outing ended — entered the bottom of the ninth inning having retired all seven hitters he had faced. Paulsen faced five hitters in the ninth, four of whom singled off him. The final two guys he faced each drove one in to make it a one-run ballgame.

Relief pitcher Quinlan Montgomery came in to replace Paulsen with the potential tying run on second and the winning run on first and only one out. On the first pitch Montgomery threw, he got Martin to ground one over to Pilla, who started a 4-6-3 double play to win it.

Stony Brook’s offense struggled throughout the weekend, but Fox had a good series. He went 5-for-14 with a double, two runs scored and a stolen base. Brown-Eiring had a huge weekend, going 6-for-12 with a double, three runs, two walks and a steal.

At the plate, Erik Paulsen only batted in the final two games, but he went 4-for-6 with a home run, a sacrifice fly, four RBIs, one run and two walks. On the mound, he allowed two runs on four hits in three innings while striking out two and walking none. He earned the win on Sunday, which was his first career decision.

Senk did not speak to the media after the series.

After spending 10 games on the road that saw the Seawolves beat teams from the Big Ten, Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference, they can now come back home. They will return to action at Joe Nathan Field this weekend to host the Siena Saints for a three-game series that will kick off with a doubleheader on Saturday. The Saints are 0-9 this year after being swept by the University of North Carolina at Asheville this past weekend. First pitch of game one is scheduled for noon.

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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.
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