College World Series 2012: Stony Brook's Offense Makes Underdog a Threat

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistJune 11, 2012

Courtesy: USA Today
Courtesy: USA Today

Stony Brook already has defied expectations by reaching the College World Series. But the underdog team's versatile and deep offensive attack makes the Seawolves a legitimate threat in Omaha.

The team has been counted out several times during its amazing run. First, in the regional round, the Seawolves were a loss away from elimination as the bottom seed before rattling off three straight victories to advance.

Then they had to face off against national powerhouse LSU, a team that had more than 40 wins despite playing in the always-tough SEC. The Tigers were widely expected to end Stony Brook's Cinderella story and move on to the next round.

A loss in Game 1 once again put Stony Brook within one defeat of heading home. Yet, the Seawolves kept fighting and were able to shock the college baseball world by knocking off LSU twice in a row to earn a College World Series berth.

While the Stony Brook pitching staff has been hit and miss throughout the tournament, the team's offense has been able to rack up runs, no matter how good the opposing pitcher.

It's a lineup that features nine regulars who are hitting at least .296 on the season. Eight of them have on-base percentages of at least .397. That means the opponent has nowhere to go for an easy out. Anybody can get an important hit at any given time.

It all starts with Travis Jankowski. The leadoff hitter is batting an eye-popping .422 on the season and has even shown some pop with five home runs. More importantly, he's stolen 36 bases, and that puts a boatload of pressure on the opposing battery.

Once Jankowski sets the table, the focus turns to slugger William Carmona. The third basemen has hit 12 home runs and driven in 72 runs during his junior season. He's really developed his power over the past year after hitting a lot of doubles last season, which is a major reason for the team's surprising success.

Even though Jankowski and Carmona are the most important pieces of the offense, it's the Seawolves' depth that makes them a dangerous sleeper heading into the CWS.

Whether it's somebody with speed like Steven Goldstein, a player who peppers the gaps like Maxx Tissenbaum or just solid all-around hitters like Kevin Krause, Stony Brook can beat opponents in multiple ways.

Whenever a lineup can put that much pressure on a pitcher, sooner or later it's going to become too much and the floodgates will open. Stony Brook is averaging eight runs per game during the tournament, proving that point even further.

There will still be plenty of doubters as play in Omaha gets set to begin. But the Seawolves have proven they can hang with anybody in the country.

Count them out at your peril.