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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


After making historic run to College World Series last season, Baseball hopes to continue momentum this year

Expectations are high for the baseball team this season.

The four-time America East champions traveled to the College World Series in Omaha, NE, last June. Despite being eliminated in just two games, the team’s journey garnered the attention of baseball fans across the country, who were charmed by their underdog story.

As this season opens, the Seawolves face a new challenge: with more eyes turned on the program than ever before, there’s a pressure to perform.

After losing seven key players to the MLB draft, many are asking if the Seawolves are just a one-hit wonder. To those thinking this might be a “rebuilding” year, head coach Matt Senk says no.

“We’re looking to win,” Senk said. “For a long time here, I think a part of our winning culture is that we don’t look to rebuild, we look to reload and that’s kind of been our mindset.”

When he realized he might lose his star players to the draft —including All-American juniors Travis Jankowski and William Carmona — Senk says he went out and “aggressively recruited” a new class for the 2013 season.

“We went out and brought in ten new players,” he said. “We think they’re a talented group and it comes down to how quickly they mature.”

The new recruits include lefty pitcher Dan Zamora, who was drafted out of high school from La Puente, Calif. and will be the number three starter, as well as a plethora of other freshmen who will be fighting for spots in the infield left vacant by injuries and Carmona’s departure.

It won’t be all new faces, however; several key players from last year’s team are now sophomores whom Senk is relying on to keep up last season’s momentum.

As All-American freshmen last year, sophomores Cole Peragine, Kevin Krause and Steven Goldstein will retain their spots in the starting line-up.

Peragine and Goldstein will remain at shortstop and in the outfield, respectively, but former designated hitter Krause will take over for catcher Pat Cantwell, who graduated and was drafted by the Texas Rangers.

Junior Kevin Courtney played first place for most of last year, and is expected to remain there for the 2013 season.

Tanner Nivins, one of two seniors (the other is righty pitcher G.C. Yerry), has been a starter in the outfield since his freshman year and is expected to be vital in leading the team.

Senk is planning to rely heavily on his pitchers as well, saying that, while his team is strong offensively, pitching and defense are the areas “where we feel [we] really win games on a consistent basis.”

With fourteen pitchers on the roster, there is no shortage of arms in the Seawolves’ bullpen.

Junior Brandon McNitt, who saw time in the College World Series last year, giving up just four earned runs against Florida State, will be Senk’s number one, followed by fellow junior Frankie Vanderka, who hurled a complete game against LSU in June to send the Seawolves to Omaha.

“It’s really kind of just trying to be strong in all areas, but it starts with pitching and defense,” Senk said. “We feel that as the season goes on, we do a lot of things offensively that allow us to do what we do to win games.”

Before the home opener at Joe Nathan Field on March 6, Stony Brook will travel South to compete in three weekend series.

This past weekend, they traveled to Miami, where they dropped all three games against Florida International University.

After Friday’s game was postponed due to rain, the teams played a doubleheader on Saturday, losing 10-4 and 3-0. Despite a stellar debut from Zamora on Sunday, they again fell to FIU, 1-0.

The winningest team in the nation last June, the Seawolves hope to redeem themselves next weekend when they travel to Chapel Hill, N.C. to play a three-game series against North Carolina.

Despite the losses, by “reloading” and not rebuilding, Senk is confident he has built a squad that can keep up Stony Brook’s winning legacy.

“I go into every season optimistic, we definitely have some challenges with losing as many players as we did, but I think we have a good group,” he said. “I feel like we can reach our goals and, once we get into tournament play, I think what we’ve done in the past, that experience will help us.”

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