CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Rich resumes don't intimidate Stony Brook, and daunting deficits don't bother the Seawolves, either. Now we'll find out how feisty SBU responds to playing from the losers' bracket.
Fourth-seeded Stony Brook lost to second-seeded Central Florida, 9-8, Saturday night in the Coral Gables Regional and will play Missouri State (40-21) in an elimination game at 2 p.m. Sunday. The winner will play Central Florida (45-15) at 7 p.m. Sunday. To capture the regional, Stony Brook (47-12) will have to win both games Sunday and one on Monday night.
Travis Jankowski had two hits, including a three-run homer, and five RBIs to lead Stony Brook, which outhit UCF 11-6. The Seawolves trailed 5-0 and 9-5, came back each time and nearly took the lead in the eighth on Willie Carmona's long fly to rightfield. But he didn't square the ball up enough, SBU coach Matt Senk said. "I didn't think he got all of it," Senk said, "because when Willie gets all of it, he probably would have put it on top of the parking garage."
Instead, it landed in the glove of rightfielder Alex Friedrich, who made the grab as he crashed into the wall.
In the ninth, with UCF closer Joe Rogers in the game, Tanner Nivins reached on a strikeout / passed ball and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Cole Peragine. But pinch hitter Sal Intagliata struck out and Kevin Krause grounded to short on a 3-and-2 pitch to end the game.
"Wow, what an incredibly intense, hard-fought game," said Senk, whose team beat four-time College World Series champion Miami on Friday. "That was a straight-up fistfight. Kevin gave us five great at-bats [2-for-5]. On the last one, he hit the ball hard, but he hit it right at the guy."
Senk said Evan Stecko-Haley will start Sunday's early game.
Saturday's starter, Brandon McNitt, did not have his best stuff. He entered the weekend with a 2.26 ERA and had allowed only one home run all season.
In this game, though, he allowed eight runs in six innings, including a pair of three-run homers. Jeramy Matos' homer to left in the sixth snapped a 5-5 tie.
"It was a real bummer we came up short," McNitt said. "Our offense was amazing. Our defense was there -- we made just one [error]. I just threw two sliders [on the home runs] that got a lot of plate."
Saturday night got off to a rough start for SBU when second baseman Maxx Tissenbaum failed to convert what appeared to be a routine double play. He threw in the dirt to first and was charged with an error as UCF scored two runs on the play.
Darnell Sweeney's three-run homer on an 0-and-2 pitch made it 5-0 in the second.
Stony Brook started its comeback in the bottom of the inning as Jankowski hit the first pitch he saw from Ray Hanson for a three-run homer to right. The rally started with two outs, when Krause doubled and Pat Cantwell (two hits) walked on a full-count pitch.
The Seawolves tied it in the fourth when Kevin Courtney walked, Cantwell singled and Carmona drove both in with a double to left-center.
After Matos' homer, UCF added a run in the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Chris Taladay.
Stony Brook scored three in the eighth on a two-run double by Jankowski and an RBI single by Cantwell.
"I couldn't be prouder of our guys," Senk said. "If there is a team that can come out of the losers' bracket, it could be us, based on the effort of this team."