photo courtesy of the Washington Post
Coach: Matt Senk (22 years)
Conference: defeated Maine to win the America East conference championship
CWS appearances: one
Path to the CWS: defeated Miami (10-2), defeated Missouri State (10-7), defeated UCF (12-5, 10-6), defeated LSU (3-1, 7-2)
The winningest team in college baseball this season, the Stony Brook Seawovles upended traditional powerhouse LSU on the way to their first CWS berth. And they did it in stunning fashion, coming back after a two-day marathon in Game 1 that they ended up losing after having leads in the bottom of the ninth, tenth and eleventh innings.
The credit for Stony Brook's success falls on the shoulders of one man, head coach Matt Senk, who has guided this program from the depths of Divsion III to the pinnacle of college baseball.
Stepping out of the dugout, the Seawolves have to give credit to their infield-outfield combination of Maxx Tissenbaum and Travis Jankowski. The latter has been one of the nation's best players all season long, putting together a .417/.481/.631 line with 11 triples and 36 steals.
Tissenbaum, on the other hand, has been the toughest hitter to strike out in the country. Literally. He has only gone down on strikes seven times in 230 at-bats. Third baseman Willie Carmona has also been a major factor, leading the squad with 12 homers and 71 RBI, while also hitting .395.
The Seawolves got some epic pitching performances during their run to the CWS, none bigger than ace Tyler Johnson's (12-1, 1.94 ERA, 5 CG) complete-game three-hitter in Game 2 of the super regionals, a performance in which he outdueled the No. 4 pick in this year's draft, Kevin Gausman.
Sophomore right-hander Brandon McNitt (8-3, 2.50) and senior right-hander Evan Stecko-Haley (7-3, 3.47) have provided more than enough backup.
Their bullpen has been strong, although no one player dominated during the regular season. A true team effort resulted in four pitchers picking up at least three saves.
Defensively the Seawolves are very strong. Eliminate the third baseman Carmona (14) and shortstop Cole Peragine's (16) defensive miscues, and the team only committed 19 errors this year.
Especially impressive has been the performance of Jankowski, who has committed just one error the past two seasons, and first baseman Kevin Courtney, who posted a .994 fielding percentage and made several amazing plays during the series against LSU, including one that earned the top spot in SportsCenter's top plays.