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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Seawolves Baseball Eyeing Run at Championship

    Two years running the Stony Brook baseball team went into the America East tournament looking to win the championship and both years they have come up short. Last year Stony Brook lost to Maine 13-8 in the double elimination tournament. With a preseason coaches poll picking them to win the conference championship this year, the team is focused on one goal, and one goal only.

    ‘We’re hungry, especially my class,’ said catcher Justin Echevarria. ‘We went to the tourney and came up empty handed. But we have that experience now and our goal is to win the championship.’

    Stony Brook’s experience is one of the top reasons they’re favored to win it all this year. The Seawolves return the top two starters from last year’s conference leading staff. America East pitcher of the year Gary Novakowski and senior Tom Koehler are a formidable one-two punch. Of Koehler, Coach Senk said. ‘He has tremendous stuff, with a low to mid 90’s fastball and a great curve, I’m surprised he wasn’t chosen in the draft.’

    Offensively, the Seawolves lost their big bopper Brian Leonard but say they will replace his stats as a team. ‘Anytime you lose numbers, nine guys need to improve to make up for those totals, it has to be a team effort,’ said Senk. But he truly believes his offense will make the necessary adjustments to be successful. ‘Our offense has the potential to be stronger than last season,’ he said.

    Senk said that his pitching has depth and that his bullpen has pitchers who can get the job done and fill in very well. But last year there were games where they didn’t need to move all game. ‘We have 7-inning double-headers throughout the season and last year we swept all of them because of the strength of our starters.’

    Senk’s offensive philosophy is to keep opponent’s guessing about what the Seawolves might do next. ‘We hit-and-run, bunt-and-run, and have really good runners. Half the team are sub-seven runners,’ he said speaking of their time’s to first base.

    The Seawolves start the year with their nonconference schedule. Last year it wasn’t kind to them as they started the season 0-6, but they hope to do better this year. ‘We need to hit right out of the gate,’ said Echevarria. ‘Early in the season you need to find out what works for you. We need to do that sooner this year.’

    Echevarria had a strong season last year batting .287 and was a defensive presence as well. He was voted the best defensive catcher in the conference by the coaches. Asked about how he wants to improve this year he said he wants to throw runners out at an even better clip, maintain a .300 average and hit a couple more home runs. But it all comes back to his defense. ‘I take a lot of pride in my defense, I always want to get better and stay humble because it can all be taken away easily.’

    Senk calls his team’s first opponent, Charleston Southern, who they play for a three-game series ‘a good team with a couple strong lefties who are top five in their conference,’ but he admits that he doesn’t know too much about them. But this is entirely by design. ‘My biggest concern is us and how we play against our opponent. We do scouting but our play will dictate things.’

    And though he expects the battle for the conference to be a ‘dogfight’, one thing is very clear. This year the Seawolves destiny is in their own hands. And no one can take that away.

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