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Stony Brook baseball drops opening conference series at William & Mary

Shortstop Matt Miceli bats against Central Connecticut State University on Tuesday, March 19. Miceli went 5-for-11 in a series loss to William & Mary this past weekend. IRENE YIMMONGKOL/THE STATESMAN

With star second baseman Evan Fox sidelined with an injury, the Stony Brook baseball team lost its first Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) series of the year.

The Seawolves (9-12, 1-2 CAA) opened conference play down in Virginia this past weekend against the William & Mary Tribe (18-6, 2-1 CAA). Stony Brook lost both games of a doubleheader on Friday, falling 6-1 and 3-1. On Sunday, the team slugged its way to a 12-3 victory to salvage the series.

Head coach Matt Senk handed the ball to starting pitcher Eddie Smink, who began his outing with four hitless innings and seven strikeouts. In the top of the fifth inning, Smink’s offense spotted him the lead when third baseman Evan Goforth reached on a throwing error by William & Mary shortstop Josiah Seguin that allowed first baseman Brett Paulsen to score. However, the game got away from Smink in the bottom of the fifth.

With one out and a runner on first base, designated hitter Lucas Carmichael stung a sharp ground ball to Goforth, who hesitated on his throw to first base. Goforth delivered an off-target throw that got past Paulsen, setting the Tribe up with runners on the corners. On the first pitch to center fielder Ben Parker, Smink sent one to the backstop to allow Seguin to score, tying the game at one. Two pitches later, Parker slapped a double into right field to score Carmichael to give his team a 2-1 lead.

Smink was pulled after that, having allowed two earned runs on as many hits while walking four batters over 4 ⅓ innings. He struck out eight during his stint. Senk turned to relief pitcher Erik Paulsen to replace Smink. Paulsen became the next victim of sloppy defense, as the first batter he faced grounded one over to Goforth, whose wide throw allowed William & Mary left fielder Joe Delossantos to reach safely.

Later in the inning, with two men on and two out, Paulsen plunked back-to-back batters to force in a run and extend the Tribe’s lead to 3-1. With the bases still loaded, second baseman Luca Trigiani singled home a pair into right field to make it 5-1. William & Mary third baseman Kevin Francella wrapped up the two-out rally with an infield single off Brett Paulsen’s glove to drive in the sixth run of the frame.

Erik Paulsen went on to finish the game and allowed three runs — all unearned — on three hits and two walks in 3 ⅔ innings of work.

All the while, the Seawolves’ bats were quiet against starting pitcher Nate Knowles, who tossed four-plus innings and allowed just one unearned run, one hit and one walk while striking out five on 65 pitches. The Tribe’s bullpen dominated after Knowles departed, as relief pitchers Mark Hindy and Carter Lovasz combined to allow just one hit and three walks in five innings. Hindy got the win, allowing just one hit and two walks while striking out two over three innings.

Game two was an even lower-scoring affair, as starting pitcher Nick Rizzo took the ball for Stony Brook. Rizzo put together a solid outing, allowing two runs (one earned) on eight hits and one walk while striking out four over 5 ⅔ innings of work. Despite his performance, the bats remained silent.

Rizzo was tagged with his first run in the bottom of the second inning, as William & Mary right fielder Christian Rush opened the inning by ripping a double down the left-field line. After advancing to third base on a groundout, Rush scampered home to tie the game for the Tribe when Rizzo bounced a pitch past catcher Ryan Micheli.

Rizzo would not give up another run until the bottom of the sixth inning. With one out and William & Mary first baseman Jakob Cohn on first, Rizzo sailed a pickoff throw into foul territory and allowed him to advance all the way to third. Rizzo retired the next two hitters, but catcher Witt Scafidi blooped one into shallow left field, where left fielder Matt Brown-Eiring’s sliding attempt came up just short.

The Tribe tacked on their last run in the bottom of the seventh inning when relief pitcher Ty Saunders loaded the bases with a hit-by-pitch, a walk and an intentional walk. With the bags juiced and just one out, Saunders hit Cohn to force another run and put the final nail in the game’s coffin.

Similarly to game one, the Seawolves were quiet against William & Mary starting pitcher Zack Potts, as he gave up just one run on four hits while striking out four batters in six innings. His only fault came in the top of the third inning when Brett Paulsen drove home shortstop Matt Miceli with a run-scoring single into right-center field.

After Potts departed, relief pitcher Owen Pierce retired all nine of the batters he faced on just 28 pitches, striking out four en route to the three-inning save.

After getting Saturday off, Stony Brook salvaged the series on starting pitcher J.T. Raab’s back. He allowed just three runs on seven hits and only one walk while striking out seven in as many innings. The Seawolves’ bats woke up early in the game and gave Raab something they had not given their starting pitcher in the previous two games: run support.

Raab was spotted a 2-0 lead before he even took the mound, as center fielder Cam Santerre laced a two-run double down the left-field line in the top of the first inning. Stony Brook doubled its lead in the top of the second inning, as Brown-Eiring grounded a double over the first-base bag to drive in Miceli before coming around to score on a single by Brett Paulsen.

In the bottom of the second inning, Trigiani tripled home a run before scoring on a groundout by Francella to get the Tribe back into it. However, in the next half-inning, the Seawolves got both of those runs back when Miceli laid down a bunt to drive in a run and Erik Paulsen reached on an error to score another. In the top of the fourth, Miceli lined a single the other way to bring home another run.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Parker lifted a sacrifice fly to right field to cut Stony Brook’s lead down to 7-3, but Miceli bounced into a run-scoring fielder’s choice to go back up by five. In the top of the seventh, catcher Nick Solorzano reached on a dropped fly ball in right field to score Brown-Eiring.

In the top of the ninth inning, designated hitter Chris Carson drove in a run with an infield single. Immediately after that, Miceli singled in two runs to tack on the finishing touches at the plate. Relief pitcher Colton Book took over for Raab in the eighth inning and pitched two hitless innings with two strikeouts and two walks to seal it.

Over the weekend, Miceli went 5-for-11 with four runs batted in (RBI), two runs scored and a sacrifice bunt. Brett Paulsen hit safely in all three games, going 3-for-9 with two RBIs, two runs and four walks.

Senk did not speak to the media after any of the games in this series.

The Seawolves will return home to Joe Nathan Field on Tuesday to take on the Iona Gaels. The Gaels are 4-17 on the year after being swept in a three-game set by Niagara. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.

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