Alums cheer Stony Brook baseball success
Eddie Kull watched with nervous excitement as his alma mater, Stony Brook University, played Louisiana State on Sunday. He jumped at every pitch and at every out.
When it was clear the victorious Seawolves were heading to the College World Series, he was in shock, knowing well how far Stony Brook baseball has come.
"I yelled like a little kid," said Kull, of Oyster Bay, who was a catcher from 1999 to 2003. "I felt like I was back on the team and I was running out onto that field with them. It was a truly amazing moment."
The win created a buzz in the sports world and ignited some former Stony Brook baseball players, filling them with admiration for the team that will compete against some of the biggest baseball schools in the country.
And it prompted some of those alums to get back in touch with each other -- through text messages, Facebook updates and mass emails -- and share the hope that Stony Brook will go all the way, said Lee Reynolds, 32, a lawyer from Northport.
"I can't believe I'm watching Stony Brook baseball as the lead story on SportsCenter right now," said Reynolds, a former starting pitcher who was on the team as it transitioned from Division III to Division I; the school's first year of Division I play was 2000. He said he is happy mostly for Matt Senk, who has coached the team for 22 years.
"No one worked harder day-to-day to build up a program than he did," Reynolds said. Senk built a ballclub and a family, he said.
Stony Brook, now among eight teams vying for college baseball's top prize, is the first metropolitan-area team to reach the College World Series since St. John's University in 1980 and the first team from the Northeast since 1986.
James McCurdy, 30, a 2004 graduate who played second base, said it is nice that people on the street are now recognizing the Stony Brook Seawolves logo. He said he was especially proud that the decisive third game Stony Brook won was before more than 11,000 LSU fans -- many more than come out to watch Seawolves baseball during an entire season.
"People are going to start supporting this team in the future," said McCurdy, a financial analyst from Howard Beach. "I think you're going to see the stands fill up on a daily basis."
Many of the former players, including Matt Salmon, said they are trying to figure out where to gather to watch the Seawolves' opening game against UCLA on Friday. A group of alums are thinking about flying out to see the games in Omaha, Neb.
"This is unbelievably exciting," said Salmon, 33, of West Babylon, a part-time baseball coach at Commack High School and part owner of Salmon Limousine Services. "The college baseball world is flipped upside-down right now."
Salmon, who played second base and shortstop for the Seawolves, said it is inspiring to watch the Cinderella story unfold, even if from the bleachers, so to speak.
"I kinda wish I was still on the team," he joked.