Stony Brook, the No. 4 seed in the Myrtle Beach regional, put up six runs in the first inning and wouldn't need to score another. The Wolfpack fell to the Seawolves 6-2 at BB&T Coastal Field, ending its season with two losses in regional play of the NCAA Tournament. Despite the heart-breaking final weekend, head coach Elliot Avent was quick to praise his team's effort all year.
"I just left the six seniors, we've had great senior leadership," Avent said. "I told those guys I'll remember them, and the leadership they displayed throughout this season and I'll use them as a benchmark for how leadership should be as seniors. I'm so proud of those guys."
Avent gambled with his starting pitcher, sending Anthony Tzamtzis to the mound with no starting experience this year and an ERA north of seven. He didn't do anything to improve that number, allowing a double to start the game then hitting batters on consecutive pitches. Tzamtzis would record just one out, on a bunt, before being lifted for Vance Williams. Tzamtzis would be charged with six earned runs before the inning, which last almost 30 minutes, mercifully came to a close.
"We don't have eight or 10 arms that we are going to run at you," Avent said. "So we made a decision that you have to win four games now. We thought [Tzamtzis] was the guy – he's a velocity guy and watching the game yesterday we thought velocity would be them."
The Pack had an opportunity to put a big dent in the lead in the second, loading up the bases with two outs. But Drew Poulk, who hit a grand slam the night before, grounded out to third base to end the threat. The Pack did pick up one run in the inning on a bloop single by Matt Bergquist to make it a 6-1 game.
Avent's squad picked another run in the fifth inning, getting a lead off double from Dallas Poulk. He scored two batters later on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Andrew Ciencin to put the Pack withing four.
Williams, meanwhile, did his best to keep the Pack in the game. The righty worked five and two-thirds innings, gave up just three hits and allowed no earned runs while striking out five. Williams was lifted in the top of the seventh for righty Ethan Ogburn, who also worked two scoreless innings. Grant Sasser finished off the game with perfect ninth.
"When you come in the game like that you just try to shut down the rally and keep your team in the game, give them a chance to win," Williams said. "Our bats have been great all year long and I thought if I just kept us in the game eventually our bats would take over."
But the Pack bats never could figure out a way to get to Seawolves starter Tyler Johnson. The righty worked a masterful eight innings for Stony Brook, allowing two runs on six hits and striking out 10. The strike zone was a source of contention in the eighth inning, when Avent was ejected for arguing a called third strike on Ciencin. Johnson would strike out the side in the inning before giving way to William Carmona.
"He was very effective," Avent said. "A sinkerball, change-up guy – the kind of guy we've had trouble with all year. He's the one guy we did not want to see."
For the second straight day the Pack attempted to create some ninth-inning magic, leading off the inning with two singles. But Tarran Senay and Kyle Wilson both flew out to center, then Dallas Poulk grounded out to short to end the Pack's season.
"I'm really proud of the way our guys not only played all year, but down the stretch," Avent said. "The way they finished this game off – going into the ninth I don't know how everyone else felt but I felt like we were going to win this ballgame."