Stony Brook wins Coral Gables Regional, will face LSU
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CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- The greatest baseball season in Stony Brook history -- including most wins and its first regional championship -- continues.
Fourth-seeded SBU (50-12) completed its shocking run through the Coral Gables Regional with a 10-6 victory over second-seeded Central Florida (45-17) Monday night.
SBU, which went 4-1 in the regional, advanced to the best-of-three Baton Rouge Super Regional against No. 3 LSU (46-16) beginning Friday afternoon.
The Seawolves fell into the losers' bracket Saturday with a 9-8 loss to Central Florida but won their final three games, beating Central Florida twice.
Stony Brook -- which had gone 1-6 in three previous regional appearances -- joined Missouri (2006) and Fresno State (2008) as the only No. 4 seeds to win a regional since the field was expanded to 64 in 2001.
The win went to Tyler Johnson (11-1), who was pitching on two days' rest after beating Miami in the opener. He allowed four runs in 61/3 innings, including a pair of home runs by D.J. Hicks, and threw 119 pitches.
"I can't remember in my college career throwing 119 pitches on two days' rest, especially when I threw 110 [in the previous start]," Johnson said. "We've got a good trainer, and when you get to this point in the year, it's mostly adrenaline."
Willie Carmona, named the regional's most outstanding player, hit .523 (11-for-21) with two homers, two doubles and 10 RBIs in five games. Carmona, who went 4-for-5 Monday night, had a two-run double in a five-run fourth as SBU erased a 3-0 deficit and added a solo homer in the seventh. Pat Cantwell had a two-run single in the fifth.
Carmona was involved in a couple of verbal altercations with Central Florida in the first inning and after the game. According to staffers on the field who heard the exchange, tempers flared when Carmona popped up in the first inning and was taunted by Central Florida pitcher Brian Adkins.
"Words were exchanged, and it escalated really fast," Carmona said. "I don't even remember what was said. It just happens sometimes in a big game."
Travis Jankowski -- who was drafted 44th overall in the supplemental first round by the San Diego Padres Monday night, becoming Stony Brook's first first-round selection -- was 11-for-23 in the regional. The SBU offense amassed 50 runs and 59 hits in five games. "One through six, we have some absolute studs in our lineup," said Kevin Courtney, who bats ninth and came up with several key hits in the regional. "It feels great to be down there and turn the lineup over to Travis at the top of the order."
Johnson said the turning point was the Missouri State elimination game Sunday, when the Seawolves fell behind by five runs before scoring seven runs in the seventh. "We were on the mat, and even for the most optimistic person, it seemed gloomy at the time," he said. "But like we've done all year, we put together some great offensive numbers. We just kept rolling from there."
"Coach Matt Senk and his staff do a great job of identifying and developing talent," Fitt said in a phone interview Monday. "This is an experienced and legitimately talented team with at least five or six guys who had strong summers in the Cape Cod League against top competition. That gave me reason to believe they could hang in this regional."
They did. Now they'll face LSU, which has never lost a Super Regional series at home in five tries and has led the nation in attendance 17 years in a row, routinely averaging more than 10,500 fans.
The other No. 4 seeds around the country this year went 8-30. Some of them got embarrassed, including Dayton, which lost 28-12 to TCU, and Bethune-Cookman, which was no-hit by Florida. But the Seawolves, who have won 26 of their past 28, proved they belong.
On Sunday, Courtney indicated SBU is not lacking for confidence. "Right now, we're on a pretty good roll," he said. "We're feeling pretty good about ourselves."
Notes & quotes: Carmona, Jankowski, Johnson, Cantwell, Courtney and Maxx Tissenbaum were named to the 11-man all-regional team. . . Stony Brook's games against LSU will be played at noon Friday, noon Saturday and, if necessary, 1 p.m. Sunday and will be televised by ESPN2.