Stony Brook? Stony Brook? It’s the “Butler of baseball,” according to Dick Vitale.
He may have a point. The Seawolves pulled off a huge upset Sunday, advancing to the College World Series for the first time with a 7-2 victory over powerhouse LSU — six-time national champion powerhouse LSU — in the deciding game of the Baton Rouge Super Regional.
“Our motto is: ‘Shock the world and win the last game of the season,’ ” Travis Jankowski, the center fielder who is the team’s leading hitter with a .422 average, said (via the New York Daily News). Jankowski had four hits Sunday and Frankie Vanderka pitched a three-hitter. Jankowski, the 44th overall pick in the Major League Baseball amateur draft by San Diego, seems oblivious to just how difficult shocking the world can be. “So as long as we do that, we should be all right from here on out.”
Now, can Stony Brook do what Butler could not and win the championship? Well, the Seawolves, from Long Island’s North Shore, are 52-13 and have more victories than any other school in the NCAA Tournament. Eight players with 168 or more at-bats are hitting .300 or better and seven players were chosen in the MLB draft earlier this month. Under Matt Senk, who was named Stony Brook coach in 1991, the team has steadily progressed to the big time, moving from Division III to II in 1995 (when they ditched “Patriots” as a nickname) and to Division I in 2000.
Senk, whose team has won 28 of its last 30 games and will play UCLA on Friday in the CWS in Omaha, understood the significance of what his team accomplished by beating LSU in Baton Rouge. Stony Brook is only the second No. 4 seed in regionals to advance to the CWS; the other was Fresno State, which won the Series in 2008.
“I’m a little overwhelmed...because I think I do know the magnitude of this,” Senk said. “To make it to Omaha [is] every college baseball team’s dream...And to do it against LSU, Alex Box Stadium...Oh, my God.”