The Stony Brook baseball team is returning to the scene of its greatest victory.
The Seawolves found out Monday afternoon that they’ll be traveling to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for the NCAA Division I Tournament, opening with a Regionals matchup against host No. 13 LSU. The last time Stony Brook played at LSU, in 2012, the Seawolves knocked off the then-No. 7 Tigers in the Super Regionals to advance to the College World Series behind a mantra of “Shock the World.”
Stony Brook (31-21) will begin play at 7 p.m. Friday, hoping to duplicate its magic from seven years ago, starting with LSU (37-24). The four-team Regional also features Southern Mississippi (38-19) and Arizona State (37-17) in a double-elimination tournament, with the top team advancing to the Super Regionals. The 64-team field is divided into 16 Regionals.
Junior shortstop Nick Grande, a Smithtown West High School graduate who was named the America East Player of the Year this spring, recalls watching the Seawolves’ run in 2012 and looks forward to being a part of a team looking to do the same.
“It’s funny because I remember I was probably in eighth or ninth grade at the time watching that team play LSU,” Grande said. “That’s more of a fan thing to talk about. We’re just focused on going down and enjoying ourselves and playing the best we can, and either way, it’s going to be a great experience.”
Stony Brook, playing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015, earned an automatic bid after winning the America East championship with a 7-5 victory over Binghamton on Saturday.
Matt Senk, in his 29th season as the team’s coach, said he was surprised about Stony Brook’s matchup, considering the history between the Seawolves and the host school.
“A little bit of a shock,” he said. “Obviously, the biggest event that happened for our program happened there and here we are going back there, so excited about it for our guys. It will be an amazing atmosphere, as it was when we were there last time, and it will be a huge challenge for us.”
Stony Brook enters the postseason with a prolific offense, highlighted by four batters hitting better than .300 in Michael Wilson (.345), Grande (.342), Brandon Alamo (.335) and Chris Hamilton (.313).
Even though Grande was named the conference’s player of the year, he said that was more a credit to the team’s offense as a whole.
“I’m really just lucky to be a part of a great lineup,” said Grande, who leads the team in hits (68), runs (58), on-base percentage (.452) and stolen bases (19). “It’s easy to have a good season when you’re surrounded by the great players that are on that team.”
And with their first challenge against a perennial college baseball powerhouse, the Seawolves look to prove they can play with any team in the country.
“At this point, this is just something that we’ve earned and we’re ready to go down there and compete,” Grande said. “Our first goal was the regular-season championship, the next was the [conference] tournament and we’ve achieved both, so we’re just ready to get down there and keep playing our game.”