Seawolves' trip to Omaha a feel-good story

storapse@aol.comJune 14, 2012 

Stony Brook sounds like a retirement home or a cemetery or perhaps a timeshare exchange.

But in fact, Stony Brook is a public research university about 60 miles east of New York City on Long Island with an undergraduate enrollment close to 16,000. And right now the baseball team is the feel-good story of the year in college athletics.

Fresh from beating two of the nation's elite baseball programs -- Miami and Louisiana State -- in regional tournaments, the Seawolves will play UCLA in the first round of the College World Series on Friday.

How shocking is this?

It is the first time a team from New York state has reached the College World Series since 1980 and the first team from the Northeast since Maine in 1986.

After Stony Brook upset six-time national champion LSU, 7-2, Sunday to win the Super Regional, Tigers coach Paul Mainieri said:

"They outplayed us in every phase of the game. I cannot imagine anyone in the country being better than that team."

The Seawolves (52-13) came into Baton Rouge, where LSU had been ranked No. 1 most of the season, as the only major college team with 50 victories. LSU had hosted four super regionals and had won them all.

Stony Brook, which averaged only 300 fans at its 1,000-seat ball park, was not intimidated by the record crowds of 10,000-plus that showed up to cheer the home team and heckle the Seawolves.

By Sunday night, the LSU fans had a new appreciation for Stony Brook, which outhit the Tigers 35-15 in the three-game series. After the final game, they gave the New Yorkers a standing ovation.

Stony Brook may have been relatively unknown to the general public before the postseason, but not to the pro baseball scouts. Seven Seawolves were selected in the recent Major League Baseball draft (compared to five for LSU and Miami).

Matt Senk, a humble man who keeps a low profile, has coached the Seawolves for 21 seasons. They were an NCAA Division III school when he was hired in 1991 and moved up to Division I in 1999.

A member of America East Conference, Stony Brook had only one postseason victory until this year.

In a bit of an oddity, Seawolves is the fourth nickname the university has used. At one time or another they have also been known as Baymen, Soundmen and Patriots.

No matter. Now they will be playing with the big boys -- UCLA, Florida State, South Carolina and Florida.

"I would not be one bit surprised if Stony Brook goes on and wins the national championship," LSU's Mainieri said.

This will not endear me to fans of the Gamecocks, Seminoles or Gators, but after all the turmoil in college sports this year, it would be refreshing for Stony Brook to win it all.

Tune in to ESPN this weekend. It should be interesting.

The Island Packet is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service