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Stony Brook baseball picks up three one-run victories in sweep over Siena

Relief pitcher/designated hitter Erik Paulsen (foreground) throws a pitch while shortstop Matt Miceli (background) gets ready against Siena on Friday, March 8. Paulsen picked up a win on the mound and went 6-for-11 at the plate this past weekend. BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

Playing in the comfort of its own home, the Stony Brook baseball team picked up a trio of one-run victories to get back to .500.

In their return to Joe Nathan Field, the Seawolves (7-7) swept the Siena Saints (0-12) this past weekend. Stony Brook swept a doubleheader on Friday, winning by scores of 3-2 and 10-9 to secure the series victory. In game three on Saturday, the team completed the unbeaten weekend with a 4-3 triumph.

The Seawolves started things off with a gem from starting pitcher Eddie Smink, though his teammates did not reward him with a win. Smink was untouchable through the first six innings before finally cracking in the seventh, and he departed with the game tied at one apiece. Smink allowed two runs (one earned) on just four hits and a walk over 6 ⅓ innings while striking out a career-high 12 batters.

After the game, head coach Matt Senk sang Smink’s praises.

“Here at Nathan, that clearly is the best he’s thrown,” Senk said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “He had overpowering stuff — his fastball especially. Eddie’s becoming more and more of a pitcher and that’s a big part of why he’s been more successful so far this year.”

Smink was spotted a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning when shortstop Matt Miceli bounced one over to third base, allowing second baseman Johnny Pilla to score on the groundout. With Smink running out of gas in the top of the seventh, Siena center fielder Austin Rachiele led off with a triple into the right-center field gap before scoring on a run-scoring single from shortstop Randall Hien.

After issuing another base hit to give the Saints two men on with only one out, Senk pulled Smink from the game in favor of designated hitter Erik Paulsen, who relieved him on the mound. Paulsen did his part, inducing a double-play ground ball to the left side on the first batter he faced. However, third baseman Evan Goforth sailed his throw wide of second base and into right field, allowing Hien to score the lead run.

Just as bad defense cost Stony Brook in the top of the seventh frame, even worse defense bailed it out in the home half of the inning. With two outs and right fielder Chris Carson on first base, left fielder Matt Brown-Eiring sent a lazy pop up into shallow right field. However, Siena right fielder Gunnar Meland dropped the routine fly ball, allowing Carson to score the tying run all the way from first while also putting Brown-Eiring on second.

Just one batter later, the Seawolves’ two-way, freshman phenom pulled one through the right side and into right field, scoring Brown-Eiring to give them a lead that they never relinquished. Over the next two innings, Paulsen retired six of the final seven Saints he faced to earn the win and start the series off on the right foot.

Game two was much more action-packed from the jump. In the bottom of the first inning, center fielder Cam Santerre dragged a bunt single and advanced an extra two bases on a throwing error by Siena starting pitcher Arnad Mulamekic. While facing Paulsen, Mulamekic bounced his changeup and it snuck through catcher Willie Schwarick’s legs, allowing Santerre to sprint home with the game’s first run.

Paulsen wound up working a walk, bringing Brown-Eiring up with a runner on first and one out. On the second pitch of the at-bat, Brown-Eiring launched a ball that cleared the left-field fence to the right of the foul pole, but home plate umpire Scott Hart called it foul. All of Stony Brook’s dugout and fanbase went berserk at the call, but their protests did not deter the umpiring crew from standing by it. Afterwards, Paulsen was caught stealing and Brown-Eiring struck out to prematurely end what should have been a three-run inning.

Those two missing runs changed the complexity of the game, but not until much later.

Starting pitcher Ty Saunders was electric to begin his outing, as he was perfect through the first three innings with five strikeouts. Then came the top of the fourth, where three singles, two walks, a fielder’s choice and a hit-by-pitch all combined to chase Saunders from the game and tie things at three runs apiece.

Relief pitcher J.T. Raab came in with the bases loaded and one out, but he too struggled against the Saints’ now-confident lineup. Schwarick greeted him by taking one up the middle to collect the run batted in (RBI). After striking out Hien for the second out, Raab allowed another RBI single up the middle, this one to first baseman Nick Bergamotto. Luckily for Raab, Santerre saved him from further trouble by throwing out designated hitter Kobe Stetson at home plate to end the inning.

Now trailing 5-3 with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning, second baseman Evan Fox pulled a single before stealing second base. Santerre delivered, lining a base hit into center field to drive Fox in. Santerre moved up to third on a single to right by Paulsen and ultimately came in to score the tying run on a wild pitch by Siena relief pitcher Connor Byrne.

After a walk to Brown-Eiring, Byrne threw another one to the backstop to give the Seawolves two runners in scoring position with one out. Pilla — who was pinch hitting for right fielder Rob Taylor — failed to get them in, as he struck out. However, with first baseman Brett Paulsen at the plate, Schwarick let one get by him and allowed Erik Paulsen to score from third base.

Now ahead 6-5, Raab settled in and tossed a pair of scoreless frames in the top of the sixth and seventh innings. In the bottom of the sixth, his teammates gave him some more cushion to work with, as Fox lifted a sacrifice fly to right field and Erik Paulsen ripped an RBI single through the right side to make it 8-5.

Relief pitcher Colin Rhein started the top of the eighth inning in place of Raab and the Saints peppered him. Siena center fielder Gavin Thorburn crushed a triple into the deep right-center field gap before scoring on a groundout by right fielder Louis Percival.

In the top of the ninth inning, Senk left Rhein out there to try and complete the six-out save, but he allowed four consecutive singles and a pair of runs to blow it. Now with the game tied at eight, Senk turned to relief pitcher Colton Book, who walked the first man he faced to load the bases with no outs. Book then unleashed a wild pitch, allowing Bergamotto to score the go-ahead run and give the Saints a 9-8 lead.

However, Book bowed his neck and limited the damage with a strikeout and a groundout that surrounded a clutch diving catch by Santerre in right field to save a run.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Santerre lined an opposite-field double into right-center off Siena relief pitcher Noah Rodriguez. Following him, Erik Paulsen got ahead in the count 3-0 before lining an opposite-field RBI double into left to tie the game and then advanced to third base on a throwing error.

Carson pinch ran for Paulsen, but he could not score on a ground ball hit by Brown-Eiring, keeping the game alive. However, Pilla won a long at-bat with Rodriguez and pulled his full-count pitch into right field to walk it off.

Pilla — who was just 1-for-5 with two strikeouts on the day before that at-bat — was happy to be able to pick his teammates up and bring them the win.

“It was pretty awesome,” Pilla said. “I had a tough day before that. Coming in, I had two strikeouts. When you have all of these guys pushing for you behind you, it’s nice standing up there at the plate hearing everybody push for you. It was a lot of fun.”

Perhaps nobody was more valuable to Stony Brook on Friday than Erik Paulsen, who had the game-winning hit and earned the victory on the mound in game one before tying game two. During the doubleheader, Paulsen went 5-for-7 with two doubles, three RBIs, one run scored and two walks.

Paulsen has come up big for the Seawolves all year round and was thrilled to do so again for them in his first-ever day playing at Nathan.

“It’s great because my coaches and my teammates both instilled confidence in me and they trust me out there,” Paulsen said. “As long as they trust me, I’m really confident out there to help us get a win.”

Santerre was the unsung hero of game two, as not only did he lay out to save a run in the top of the ninth inning, but he went 4-for-4 with two doubles, a walk, an RBI and four runs scored.

He attributed his overall performance to a strong start that saw him leg out a pair of bunt singles in his first two at-bats.

“I started the game with two bunts, and after I got on base and saw a couple of pitches, it got my confidence up a little bit,” Santerre said. “So when I went up for my third and fourth time, I felt like I was seeing it really well even though I was only bunting.”

Game three was much less dramatic, as starting pitcher Nick Rizzo made Stony Brook’s life easy for seven innings. He allowed just three hits and a walk while striking out four hitters over his seven scoreless frames. His teammates gave him some immediate run support when Erik Paulsen doubled home Santerre in the bottom of the first, followed by an RBI single by Brown-Eiring.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, with Santerre on third and only one out, Brown-Eiring struck out swinging on a ball in the turf, forcing Schwarick to throw to first base to get the out. The throw allowed Santerre to dash home, where he slid in safely under the tag. Two innings later, Brown-Eiring pulled one over the third-base bag and into left field to drive in Santerre and pick up an RBI double.

In the top of the eighth inning, the Saints made things interesting by loading the bases with three walks against relief pitcher Quinlan Montgomery. With two outs, Siena third baseman Danny Barbero lined a two-run single into right field to break up the shutout and cut the Seawolves’ lead in half.

After Barbero’s hit, Senk pulled Montgomery in favor of relief pitcher Ty Stout. Rachiele greeted Stout with an opposite-field double into the left-center. One run scored, but Santerre got the ball into Miceli, whose relay throw at third base was in time to get Rachiele before the tying run crossed home plate.

Santerre’s hustle and Miceli’s throw wound up winning the game and sweeping the series for Stony Brook, as Stout locked down the save with a perfect top of the ninth inning.

After starting off the home part of his team’s schedule 3-0, Senk was very pleased.

“Anytime you can sweep a series, home or away, it’s always fun,” Senk said. “Despite it being early in the year and the temperatures and weather, we had some really good crowds which helped us get it done … It’s good to see us play this well.”

Santerre had a huge weekend, going 6-for-8 with two doubles, an RBI, seven runs scored and a stolen base along with the trio of game-changing defensive plays. Paulsen finished his series 6-for-11 with two doubles, four RBIs, two runs and two walks. In limited action, catcher Ryan Micheli went 3-for-5 with a walk, a hit-by-pitch and a pair of steals.

The Seawolves will look to keep things rolling on Wednesday when they travel up the road to Queens to take on the St. John’s Red Storm at 3 p.m. The Johnnies are 7-4 this year after sweeping a doubleheader against Hofstra on Saturday. The Red Storm will complete their series with the Pride on Sunday and then face Long Island University on Tuesday before their matchup with Stony Brook.

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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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