June 4, 2012

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Expectations met

Stony Brook wins Coral Gables Regional


By David Furones



CORAL GABLES, Fla. – If the 2012 regular season’s winningest team came into the Coral Gables Regional to make a statement that it was underrated as a No. 4 seed, it certainly did so.


With a 4-for-5 night from William Carmona and an inspirational performance from its ace Tyler Johnson, who was pitching on two days’ rest, Stony Brook knocked off No. 2 seed UCF 10-6 Monday night to become Regional champ and advance to face LSU Friday in the Super Regionals.


Josh Mason got Alex Friedrich to ground out to short to make the game final and bring his teammates rushing onto the field like fanatical electronics customers charging into a Best Buy at 4 a.m. on Black Friday.


If you ask SBU coach Matt Senk, the end result of the Regional did not surprise him one bit.


“Our expectations ended up coming to fruition,” said Senk, whose Seawolves became the first No. 4 seed to advance into a Super Regional since Fresno State in 2008. “We came in thinking that we could win this Regional.”


Stony Brook (50-12) will book its flight to Baton Rouge, La., after finishing the Regional with a 4-1 record and defeating the team that gave it its only loss two nights in a row. The Seawolves now have won 26 of their past 28 games and gone 35-4 since April 1.


Carmona (left), SBU’s slugging third baseman, fell a triple shy of the cycle, drove in three runs and scored two more at Alex Rodriguez Park.


“[Carmona] is one of the best hitters that I’ve ever been around,” Senk said. “He has power from both sides of the plate. It’s scary how hard he can hit a baseball.”


The Regional’s Most Outstanding Player finished hitting .523 (11 for 21) with two home runs and 10 RBI.


Johnson, after earning the win Friday night against Miami, finished the game throwing 119 pitches in 6.1 innings, allowing four runs off eight hits and striking out five Knights (45-17).


“When you get to this point in the year, it’s mostly adrenaline,” Johnson said. “By this point you’re doing it more for the guys next to you than you’re doing it for yourself. I’m very tired right now, but I’ll tell you it’s a great feeling anyway.”


“Absolutely tremendous performance,” Senk added. “He exceeded what my expectations were… It seemed like Tyler got a second wind and got an adrenaline rush and really started throwing his best from the fourth inning on.”


Mason closed things out for Stony Brook, pitching the final 2.2 innings giving up two runs off two hits and striking out three.


Like the Seawolves have done time and time again in this Regional, a big offensive inning propelled them to victory. This time it came in the form of a five-run fourth inning.


Carmona highlighted the inning with his two-run double with the bases loaded that tied the game at 3. He later came in to score the fifth and final run that frame on a Kevin Krause knock up the middle.


“When you have an offense like ours, I think eventually things start to roll,” Carmona said. “It just happened in one inning, and from that point on, we didn’t stop scoring. That’s how you have to win games.”


Stony Brook added two more the very next inning when Pat Cantwell drove two runners home with a solid single to center, and then manufactured two more in the sixth to make it a 9-3 game.


UCF starter Brian Adkins cruised through the first three innings, but everything fell apart for him in the five-run Stony Brook fourth. He didn’t make it through the frame and suffered the loss with four earned runs off four hits and five walks over 3.1 innings.


The Knights did the early scoring Monday. D.J. Hicks (left), who finished 2 for 4 with two home runs and three RBI, stroked a two-run shot out to right-center in the top of the first off Johnson to give UCF the early 2-0 advantage.


Hicks crossed home plate again in the third to make it 3-0. He led the inning off with a walk, worked his way over to third and scored on a Jeramy Matos base hit through the left side of the infield.


“It felt great,” UCF coach Terry Rooney said of the 3-0 start. “I thought we had some quality at-bats early in the game. I certainly felt that going into the game, with how well Stony Brook was swinging the bat, that it was going to take a bunch of runs today to get the job done.”


UCF’s JoMarcos Woods lifted a two-run home run to right, the first of his collegiate career, in the eighth to try to ignite a Knight comeback, but UCF could not do anything else against Mason.


Game Notes

·    It was quite a night for Travis Jankowski. He went 1 for 4 at the plate, but even bigger for him, he was drafted 44th overall in the MLB Draft.

·    In the first inning, UCF pitcher Brian Adkins was taunting Carmona after getting him to pop out to left. On the incident, Carmona said, “Words were exchanged. I’m not sure what he said exactly, but it was just a heat-of-the-moment type of thing and it just escalated and it out of control for a few seconds.” The umpires brought the two coaches together after the exchange and told the teams to knock it off.

·    Adkins expressed similar sentiments saying, “I chalk it up as just being baseball.”

·    Things were heated throughout between the two teams, and several UCF players came out onto the field during SBU’s postgame celebration. Cooler heads ultimately prevailed and the two teams exchanged ceremonial handshakes after the final.

·    Rooney shook things up in the lineup once again Monday night. He inserted JoMarcos Woods into the eight-hole and benched Nick Carrillo, who was hitting .091 in the regional. Woods ended up homering.

·    Carmona, who also played the role of closer for the Seawolves last season, was warming up in the bullpen before the ninth inning. Senk said he was 60/40 in favor of not bringing him in if he had to, but he was glad he ultimately didn’t have to make that decision.


(photos courtesy of SBU & UCF Media Relations Offices)