The Stony Brook Seawolves (15-11 seasonal , 8-2 conference) and the UMBC Retrievers (14-12 seasonal, 4-4 conference) entered Saturday’s matchup at Joe Nathan Field at the top of the America East Standings. Stony Brook remained hot, keeping their five-game winning streak alive thanks in large part to senior second baseman Rob Chavarria, who came through in the clutch with walk-off single to left field to defeat UMBC 6-5.
After suffering a tough loss in Game 1 8-0, UMBC relied on their junior right-handed pitcher Conrad Wozniak, who flat out dominated the Seawolves. He entered the game with a 1-0 record, 0.90 ERA, 30 innings pitched with 23 strikeouts on the season. He would increase his season strikeout total with fooling Stony Brook batters by switching up speeds, keeping them guessing and having superb location. He pitched 6.1 innings, threw 101 pitches, gave up four hits and struck out nine, all of them looking. With a dominant performance from Wozniak, he was surprised that head coach Bob Mumma kept him in the game after throwing so many pitches, but was not satisfied with the outcome of the game.
“My arm was feeling good today,” Wozniak said after the game. “It’s pretty much just day in and day out kind of grind. I think I’ve earned his (Mumma’s) trust over the last couple of games. So, am I surprised? Not so much. Am I a little disappointed with result? Yeah.”
On the other side of the mound for Stony Brook was sophomore left-handed pitcher Daniel Zamora. He has a 3-2 record on the season, alongside a 3.79 ERA with 35.2 innings pitched and 42 strikeouts. In his matchup against an aggressive-minded Retrievers team, he pitched 5.1 innings, let up four hits and four runs, walked two and struck out three. He also received a no-decision. He was prone to using his breaking ball, which the Retrievers took advantage of with their patience and precision.
UMBC drew first blood in the third inning when freshman infielder Jamie Switolski belted a solo-home run to left field to lead off the inning. The Retrievers would respond with three more runs in the half inning with the help of senior outfielder Jake Barnes, junior infielder Kevin Lachance and junior outfielder Nick Naumann. They all contributed with solid hits that led to a 4-0 UMBC advantage.
The Seawolves then responded in the latter half of the third inning. Sophomore second baseman Jeremy Giles got things going with a two-out triple over the center fielder’s head. Next batter was senior catcher Cole Peragine who leads the team in OBS (on-base percentage) at .430. He drove a single to center field driving in Giles to decrease the deficit to 4-1 at the end of the third.
The game was quiet until the seventh inning approached. Retrievers’ sophomore Tim Kelly led off with a triple to left center. Two batters later, Junior Nick Naumann flew out to right field but it was deep enough to drive in Kelly, who then increased the lead to four again.
The bottom of the seventh inning was a colossal one for the Seawolves batters as they were able to get one more hit off Wozniak to take him out. Senior second baseman Rob Chavarria ignited the offense with a base hit to left field. Mumma then went to his bullpen and brought in junior right-handed pitcher Dennis Mikush. Mikush paid the price against Stony Brook’s hot bats. He gave up six hits that resulted in five runs and one walk in .2 of an inning pitched.
After Chavarria’s hit, junior third baseman Johnny Caputo and freshman right fielder Andrew Gazzola both added singles. The next batter was freshman Bobby Honeyman, who looked at a wild first pitch go past UMBC’s catcher, which brought in Caputo. Honeyman ended up grounding out to second, and the next batter Giles drew a walk after facing a full count. Peragine came up clutch when he ripped a 2-RBI single to right field, driving in both Gazzola and Giles to knot the game up at five. Peragine finished the game 2 for 4 with three RBI’s and was the centerpiece to Stony Brook’s fluid offense.
“I was happy to be in that situation,” Peragine said after the game on his 2-RBI single. Two runners on, last inning, two outs, who wouldn’t want to be in that situation? I’m just happy I got a pitch I could drive.”
Stony Brook’s defense prevailed in the top half of the eighth and had the second, third and fourth batters coming up in the bottom of the inning. Sophomore center fielder Toby Handley and junior left fielder Jack Parenty both intensified the morale of Stony Brook’s dugout with two consecutive base hits leaving Chavarria to possibly be a hero. On a 1-2 count, Chavarria made contact and hit a ball that just outreached UMBC’s second baseman, driving in Handley on a walk-off hit. Stony Brook’s dugout erupted and bombarded Chavarria as he was halfway to second base.
“We were trailing a little bit in the seventh inning and we needed a big comeback,” Chavarria said after the win. “I led it off in the seventh and we scored four runs to tie it up. Bottom of the eighth, second and third, winning run on third base and I just wanted to do what I can. I didn’t do too much. I kept it simple, and placed the ball where it need to be placed and it got the job done.”