OMAHA, Neb. -- The magic carpet ride for Stony Brook's baseball team continued Friday when coach Matt Senk was announced as coach of the year a few hours before the Seawolves met UCLA in the opener of the NCAA College World Series. The award was given by the National College Baseball Writers Association.
"The hits keep coming," Senk said. "No pun intended. To make it to the College World Series as a team and then to have this award brings it all together as to what a fantastic season this has been and what a great run through the tournament it's been."
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The Seawolves went into the UCLA game with a 52-13 record that includes the most wins and highest winning percentage in the country, and they became only the second No. 4 regional seed in NCAA history to reach the College World Series. Senk has compiled a 623-289-3 record in 22 years while guiding Stony Brook from Division III to the top level of the collegiate game.
"For me, it always goes back to the players," Senk said. "This award is not a 'me' award, it's a 'we' award. This is the hard work that for this year was done by my assistants and my team. But also, it's for all the assistants that have put up with me for 22 years and for all the players that chose to come to Stony Brook. They made this day happen. I couldn't be prouder, really, to accept this award for all the former players, coaches and the university itself."
To reach Omaha, Stony Brook had to win the best-of-three Baton Rouge Super Regional at LSU, where Game 1 was suspended by rain after 11 innings and the Seawolves lost in the 12th the next morning. They came right back to win Game 2 that day.
"I told the players they did so many great things that the last thing they should do is take away the negatives," Senk said of his approach between games. "That put their minds at ease."
The Seawolves' most accomplished baseball alum is Joe Nathan, who is the closer for reigning American League champion Texas. Asked about the Rangers taking batting practice in Stony Brook gear this week, Senk laughed and said, "They did that so we can slide a few of those guys into the lineup. That's the way we think in the Northeast."
The way Stony Brook has been hitting, the Rangers might want that to go both ways.