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Baseball bounces back, sweeps UMBC on Saturday

Junior Anthony Italiano hit his second home run of the season in Saturday's first game. (NINA LIN/THE STATESMAN)
Junior Anthony Italiano hit his second home run of the season in Saturday’s first game. (NINA LIN/THE STATESMAN)

After losing to St. John’s at Citi Field on Tuesday, stellar pitching and a 20-hit day helped lift the baseball team to their first series win of the year this weekend.

The Seawolves (9-17, 4-5 AE) beat the UMBC Retrievers 8-0 and 5-2 on Saturday after dropping Friday’s match up 2-1 in 10 innings.

“First doubleheader sweep of the year, first series win of the year,” head coach Matt Senk said. “A very tough loss [Friday] evening, but we bounced back.”

After getting a mere four hits on Friday, Stony Brook smashed a total of 20 hits on Saturday led by the bats of juniors Anthony Italiano and Kevin Courtney, who each smashed multi-run home runs, SBU outhit UMBC 24-18 for the weekend.

Friday’s loss, which featured junior Brandon McNitt on the mound for the Seawolves, was a pitcher’s duel that went 10 innings.

Although the Retrievers smacked a total of nine hits off McNitt and reliever Josh Mason, neither team had much leverage throughout the game.

Stony Brook’s only advantage came in the bottom of the ninth, when Courtney hit a double that just missed going over the right field wall. He advanced to third on a fielder’s choice and was poised to score with two outs.

But it was not to be. Freshman Brett Tenuto hit what would have been a game-winning line drive, only to have UMBC second baseman Vince Corbi leap into the air and make a jumping play to end the inning.

Senk had some words with his team after the loss, which was the team’s first against UMBC since 2009.

“What I basically asked them was to stop beating ourselves,” he said. “There are situations throughout the year where we can execute and play better and, for whatever reason, we haven’t.”

“I asked them to kind of do a self assessment and come out here and be ready to go and they did a good job of that.”

True to his wishes, the Seawolves started Saturday off in a dominant style and never looked back.

Junior Frankie Vanderka started on the mound for SBU in game one, throwing his fourth complete game in a row. He struck out seven and allowed just three hits and one walk over the seven inning shutout.

With runners on first and second in the first, Italiano hit a two-out, three run homer over the left field wall to give the Seawolves their first lead of the series. SBU added three more runs in the second after a single from freshman Jack Parenty and a throwing error from UMBC shortstop Kevin Lachance.

 After that, it was easy going.

An RBI from junior Michael Hubbard added another run in the fifth, and a single from freshman Austin Shives gave the Seawolves their final run in the sixth.

“Hopefully the weather got warm, so the bats are going to start warming up,” Senk said. “If we do that then we’ve got a lot of good things ahead of us.”

Stony Brook’s bats again ruled the second game, when it got 12 of its 20 hits.

The Seawolves picked up another early lead when Courtney blasted a shot over the right field wall with a man on base to make the score 2-0.

Aided by the stellar pitching of freshman starter Daniel Zamora,  SBU simply chipped away at the Retrievers, adding another run off a Tenuto triple in the third, another when Shives scored off a UMBC error in the fourth and yet another off an RBI single from freshman Johnny Caputo in the eighth.

“That’s nice to see because we haven’t had that kind of hitting frankly all season,” Senk said.

Zamora allowed just one run on five hits over 6-1/3 innings and struck out a career-high nine batters.

Fellow freshman Tim Knesnick came in in relief, allowing just one unearned run and earning his first career save.

Parenty extended his hitting streak to 17 consecutive games, going 1-for-3 in game one and 2-for-4 in game two.

Italiano caught three Retrievers stealing in the series. He has now thrown out 20 of 44 would-be base stealers this year.

All in all, it was a good day for the Seawolves.

“We bounced back to sweep the doubleheader and win the series, I think that says a lot about the character of the guys,” Senk said. “I’m very proud of them.”

The team hits the road for the next five games, playing a non-conference game at Marist on Tuesday and then the Albany series next weekend.

“We’re kind of battle-tested when it comes to being on the road, so I don’t think that’ll test us,” Senk said.

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