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Stony Brook baseball surprises Campbell, takes two of three

Designated hitter Erik Paulsen swings at a pitch against Elon on Saturday, April 6. Paulsen went 6-for-13 with a home run in the series win at Campbell. STANLEY ZHENG/THE STATESMAN

In a crucial matchup down south, the Stony Brook baseball team’s offense bounced back to grab a monumental series victory.

The Seawolves (17-17, 6-6 CAA) made the trip to North Carolina this weekend to take on the Campbell Camels (23-11, 6-6 CAA). Stony Brook started things off with a 7-3 win on Friday before dropping Saturday’s contest 9-2. In the rubber game on Sunday, the bats woke up again to capture the series with an 11-2 victory.

In the top of the third inning, the Seawolves drew first blood when shortstop Matt Miceli bounced one through the left side of the infield to bring home center fielder Chris Carson with the first run of the ballgame. Two batters later, with the bases loaded and two out, first baseman Brett Paulsen snuck one past the dive of Campbell second baseman Braeden O’Shaughnessy to drive in a pair. Stony Brook added a run in the fourth when Carson launched his second home run of the season off the scoreboard in right field to make it 4-0.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Camels looked to crack the scoreboard with starting pitcher Eddie Smink struggling to locate the strike zone. With the bases loaded and two out, Campbell catcher Andrew Schuldt ripped one wide of third that third baseman Evan Fox snared before throwing across the diamond to sidestep trouble.

Second baseman Johnny Pilla extended the lead in the top of the sixth inning with a solo bomb. With two outs and two runners in scoring position, Paulsen came up big again with a laser into left field to score both runners and make it 7-0.

Despite six shutout frames, it was not the easiest day for Smink, as he scattered three hits, six walks and a hit batsman while striking out just four.

Head coach Matt Senk then brought designated hitter Erik Paulsen in to pitch to start the bottom of the seventh inning. The freshman struggled by immediately loading the bases before escaping unscathed and worked around an error in the bottom of the eighth to preserve the seven-run cushion.

Down to their final out, the Camels finally created some noise, as first baseman Reed Stallman snuck a three-run homer over the right-field wall to cut the deficit to four. Center fielder Max Weller promptly flew out to his counterpart to cap off the Friday victory for the Seawolves.

Stony Brook grabbed the early lead again on Saturday when catcher Ryan Micheli looped one over Campbell shortstop Chandler Riley to score Pilla from second base. However, the lead was short-lived, as Stallman took starting pitcher Nick Rizzo 482 feet to the opposite field and tied the game at one apiece.

From there, it was all Camels. With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the third inning, Rizzo sent one to the backstop to bring home Riley. One inning later, O’Shaughnessy blasted a two-run shot to put his team up 4-1.

Staked to the lead, Campbell starting pitcher Cooper Clark held down the Seawolves’ offense to the tune of a single earned run over five innings.

With two men on and two away in the bottom of the seventh inning, Weller split the right-center field gap off relief pitcher Ty Panariello to bring in a pair and stretch the lead to five. Later in the frame, relief pitcher Quinlan Montgomery walked Riley to force in the third run of the inning and make it 7-1.

The Seawolves scratched a run across in the top of the eighth inning after Pilla doubled and came around to score on a groundout. However, the Camels immediately got that run back when left fielder Dalen Thompson unloaded on a fastball from Montgomery to go up 8-2. After Stallman was hit by a pitch, Schuldt doubled him in off the wall.

Stony Brook went down quietly in the top of the ninth inning to let Campbell even the series at a game apiece to set up a decisive game on Sunday.

In the rubber match, the Seawolves took the first punch in the top of the second inning when Erik Paulsen lifted a home run to straightaway left field. From there, Campbell starting pitcher Nate Brittain exchanged zeroes with Stony Brook’s J.T. Raab over the next two innings.

After right fielder Rob Taylor was hit by a pitch in the top of the fifth inning, Fox snuck one through the infield to double their team’s lead. Miceli followed up a stolen base with a single to left before Paulsen singled him home to make it 4-0.

The Camels made things interesting in the home half of the fifth inning after Raab balked in a run. O’Shaughnessy then dropped down a bunt to drive in a second run and cut the Seawolves’ lead to 4-2. Raab was pulled shortly thereafter, having allowed just two runs on two hits and three walks while striking out three batters over 5 ⅓ innings. Relief pitcher Ty Saunders replaced him and stranded a pair with a strikeout and a flyout to end the frame.

Batting with two aboard in the top of the seventh inning, Pilla sent a chopper back to the mound that Campbell relief pitcher Jeremy Wiegman snagged. He tossed it to first base, but Pilla collided with Stallman on the back end. After originally being ruled an error — allowing a run to cross — the umpiring crew overturned the call and ruled interference on Pilla to negate the run. A dismayed Senk came out to argue and was ejected.

Wiegman and Saunders traded scoreless innings until the top of the eighth, where Stony Brook exploded to put the game out of reach. Taylor ripped a double inside the left-field line to score Micheli before Miceli pulled a run-scoring single through the left side to make it 6-2. Left fielder Brown-Eiring followed with a majestic two-run home run to balloon the lead to six.

Taylor notched another run batted in (RBI) with a sacrifice fly in the top ninth inning. After drawing a walk, center fielder Cam Santerre took off for second and drew a throwing error from Schuldt, who sailed one into center field and allowed Micheli to score from third. Fox then lifted one to right to bring home Santerre and cap off the scoring outburst.

Saunders pitched an effortless ninth to secure the 11-out save and the series victory.

The Seawolves turned in a second-straight strong offensive week, racking up 20 runs across the three games. They were led by Erik Paulsen, who went 6-for-13 with a home run, two RBIs, two runs scored and two hit-by-pitches. Miceli went 5-for-15 with three RBIs, three runs, a walk and a stolen base.

Brown-Eiring had a good final two games to finish 4-for-13 with a home run, a walk, a hit-by-pitch, two RBIs and two runs. Pilla continued his big sophomore season by going 5-for-13 with two doubles, a home run, an RBI, four runs, a walk and a stolen base.

Brett Paulsen led Stony Brook with four RBIs across the three games while also going 3-for-12 with a walk and a hit-by-pitch. Micheli was productive from the bottom of the order, as he went 3-for-10 with an RBI, two runs, three walks, a hit-by-pitch and a steal.

Taylor only played on Sunday, but he made the most of his opportunity with a 3-for-3 performance. He doubled once, was hit by a pitch, hit a sacrifice fly, drove in two runs and scored two more.

On the mound, Saunders turned in 3 ⅔ scoreless innings and stranded a hit and a walk while striking out three to tally his first career save. On Friday, Erik Paulsen grabbed his team-leading fourth save with three innings pitched while allowing three runs. Rizzo struggled in his outing as he lasted just 2 ⅔ innings while surrendering two runs. 

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

The Seawolves will return home this weekend to continue their fight through the Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) against the Towson Tigers. The Tigers have had a rough time of it, sitting dead last in the CAA with a 3-9 conference record and an 8-26 overall mark after being swept by the University of North Carolina Wilmington. They will face Mount St. Mary’s on Tuesday and Coppin State on Wednesday before their matchup with Stony Brook. First pitch on Friday is slated for 3 p.m.

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