STONY BROOK, N.Y. -- Top-seeded Stony Brook University won its third America East Baseball Championship in five years, going 3-0 in the double-elimination tournament, with a 13-6 win over fourth-seeded Maine on Friday afternoon at Joe Nathan Field.
The Seawolves, ranked No. 30 in the NCBWA National Poll, earned the league's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament and will find out its postseason destiny during the NCAA Selection Show live on ESPNU Monday at 12 noon. The America East representative in the tournament has eliminated a regional opponent in each of the last three years.
The Seawolves (46-11), who have already exceeded the program record for single-season wins, have won 11 straight and 22 of 23 games. After winning the America East Regular-Season Championship for the second straight year, Stony Brook becomes just the second top seed to win the conference tournament over the last 10 years.
Both teams went to their bullpens early in Friday's championship game. Stony Brook senior righty Evan Stecko-Haley, a second-team all-conference selection earlier this week, went 3.0+ innings and allowed six earned runs on five hits, including a double and a home run. Stecko-Haley also hit three batsmen. James Campbell relieved Stecko-Haley after the starter allowed three straight hard-hit liners to open the third inning. All three went on to cross the plate in the Black Bears' three-run frame.
Black Bear starting pitcher Jonathan Balentina, who pitched the final scoreless inning against Binghamton earlier in the day, went the first 2.1 innings in the afternoon game, allowing six earned runs on seven hits, issuing two walks and hitting three batters. He struck out one Seawolf. Maine used six different pitchers, including three in the seventh inning.
Campbell went on to pick up the victory and the tournament's Most Outstanding Player award after also earning a save earlier in the week. Campbell pitched 4.0 innings of two-hit, shutout ball, striking out three. He also got run support from the offense as the Seawolves took a 7-6 lead they wouldn't relinquish with one run in the sixth, and then tacked on four runs in the seventh inning highlighted by Willie Carmona's three-run home run blasted over the right field fence.
Sophomore Frankie Vanderka pitched the final two innings without allowing a hit or a run.
America East Player of the Year Travis Jankowski went 3-for-5 Friday afternoon with three RBI and three runs scored, and joined Campbell on the all-tournament team along with Pat Cantwell (1-for-5, 1 RBI) and Maxx Tissenbaum (3-for-3, 2 RBI, 1 R). Jankowski hit .600 (9-for-15) for the tournament with seven runs scored and five RBI.
The game was a tight one through the first 5.5 innings. The Black Bears took a 3-1 lead in the second, scoring three runs with two outs, including all-tournament team selection Ian Leisenheimer's two-run home run. The Seawolves responded with two runs in the bottom half of the frame, and three in the third, but Maine tied the game up at 6-all in the top of the fourth inning.
Ian Leisenheimer finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBI. Pitcher Mike Connolly and DH Fran Whitten were also all-tournament team members, along with Binghamton pitchers Mike Augliera and Jay Lynch, and Albany outfielder Nolan Gaige. Whitten led all players in the tournament with eight RBI and two home runs, and also pitched 3.2 innings against the Seawolves in relief.
Connolly pitched a gem in a 5-1 Maine win over Binghamton earlier in the day to get the Black Bears to the championship game. The loser's bracket championship game ended up being a pitcher's duel until Maine broke open its lead with three runs in the bottom of the eighth. Connolly went 8.0 innings with five hits and one earned run against, with six strikeouts and four walks.
On the mound for the Bearcats, Lynch threw 7.0 innings, striking out four Black Bears and surrendering two earned runs and six hits. Reliever Lee Sosa pitched the eighth inning, allowing three runs on three hits and a walk.
2012 America East Baseball Championship
All games hosted by Stony Brook University, Joe Nathan Field
Wednesday, May 23
Game 1: #3 Binghamton 2, #2 Albany 1 l Box score l
Game 2: #1 Stony Brook 14, #4 Maine 6 l Box score l
Thursday, May 24
Game 3: Maine 8, Albany 3 (Albany eliminated) l Box score l
Game 4: Stony Brook 7, Binghamton 4 l Box score l
Friday, May 25
Game 5: Maine 5, Binghamton 1 (Binghamton eliminated) l Box score l
Game 6: Stony Brook 13, Maine 6 (Maine eliminated) l Box score l