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Stony Brook falls in state private school tournament debut

Stony Brook Bears' Joe Wozny pitches to the

Stony Brook Bears' Joe Wozny pitches to the Poly Prep Blue Devils during the quarterfinals of the NYSAIS baseball championship on Saturday. Credit: Louis Lanzano

All big moments don’t produce the big result. Such was the case for The Stony Brook School on Saturday.

The Bears finished their inaugural season in the PSAA by winning the conference title and advancing to the state private school tournament. Still something of an unknown, they got seeded ninth of nine. Stony Brook made its first statement last week by upsetting Hackley to reach Saturday’s big moment: a NYSAIS quarterfinal at top-seeded Brooklyn Poly Prep with Bears ace righty Joe Wozny on the mound.

The opportunities were there, but Stony Brook couldn’t make them count. The Blue Devils’ speed forced it into physical errors. And the Bears made mental mental miscues like not covering bases. Together, those brought a pair of big Poly innings as it won 13-3 in a six-inning run-ruled contest.

Stony Brook (11-2) held a 1-0 lead after one inning and stranded a total of six runners over the next three frames. After leaving the bases full in the top of the fourth, Poly (19-2) scored four in the bottom of the inning for a 6-1 lead. The Bears could have struck back in the fifth, scoring twice and bringing the go-ahead run to the plate, but got no closer. Poly ended it with a seven-run sixth.

“We had opportunities here,” Bears coach Dustin Mones said. “We needed to make plays and there were spots where we didn’t. When we threatened, they made big pitches. In the field, they are very athletic and fast and put pressure on our defenses – which caused some mistakes.”

The Devils clearly felt the Bears a threat early. They squeezed home the tying run in the second and used a key bunt in grabbing a one-run lead in the third.

“For us, getting the lead is paramount – it lets us force other teams’ defenses to make tough plays,” Poly coach Matt Roventini said. “We needed to play fast today. Sitting back and hoping to hit Wozny? You could have a long day that way.”

Stranding all the runners early also may have taken a toll on the Bears all around. With runners on base some weren’t patient at the plate. They failed to cover bases on a pair of plays that led to Devils runs.

“You want to play your best game in a situation like this – we all did – and sometimes you try to do too much,” said Wozny, who was charged with seven runs (five earned) in 5.1 innings and struck out eight. “I needed to be more poised in the fourth; you can’t put them in a position to get four runs using bunts and steals.”

“Stranding runners can leak over into your defense,” Roventini said. “That could have played a role in our big fourth [inning].”

T.J. Wachter had two hits and an RBI and Emman Ajewole had an RBI single for the Bears.

Poly, which has won nine of the last 12 titles, hosts a semifinal Monday. Stony Brook becomes an independent next season and will play a top regional and nation schedule.

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