It’s been a long time coming, but Stony Brook Baseball is finally back in the playoffs.
For the first time since the 1999 Long Island Championship season, the Bears return to the postseason thanks to a 3-0 victory over Mercy yesterday afternoon. Seamus Scanlon and Joe Wozny were masterful on the mound, the defense played error-free ball, and the offense capitalized on two Mercy errors to earn the biggest win for the Brook in 19 years.
Scanlon looked sharp in the top of the 1st inning, fanning his first batter on three pitches, yielding a 4-3 ground out, and working around a two-out walk with a fly out to center field. The Bear bats supported their pitcher early with a little help from a Monarch error. Aidan Mega roped a one-out single to left-center. A fielder’s choice exchanged Mega for Joe Wozny who promptly stole second to move into scoring position. Tim Wozny followed with a grounder to third base, but the throw was offline. Great hustle by both Wozny brothers put the Bears on the board, 1-0.
In the top of the 2nd, Mega flashed his arm in a huge early play. After a leadoff double caromed off the right field wall, a bid to steal third was denied by a quick throw from Mega and a slick tag from Tim Wozny. The play saved a run as the next batter flared a single to right. Scanlon closed the inning by striking out two of the next three batters.
The Bear defense came up with another huge play in the top of the 3rd to preserve the 1-0 lead. After a leadoff walk and a wild pitch put a Mercy runner on second, a ground out moved the runner 90 feet away from home with just one out. Scanlon bounced back by inducing a pop up to Joe Wozny in foul territory down the first base line. The ever-cagey Wozny held onto the ball, baiting the runner into chancing a play at the plate. Wozny fired the ball home and Mega laid down a perfectly-timed tag to keep another Mercy run off the board and end the inning. The Bears extended their lead in the bottom half of the 3rd. Once again Mega was the instigator, reaching base on an infield single then stealing second. The Blue and White faithful were treated to a pleasant episode of Deja vu as Tim Wozny once again came up with two outs and a runner on second and benefited from an error, this time courtesy of the shortstop, which plated Mega for a 2-0 advantage.
In a game that was defined by defense, the Bears again made huge plays to keep the Monarchs at bay in the 4th. Scanlon began the inning by yielding two walks, but responded by inducing a soft liner to Joe Wozny at first who promptly threw to second to burn Mercy’s hit-and-run attempt for the second out. The next batter drilled a ball to right field that would have scored the runner at first had the ball not gone under the wall for a ground rule double. The runner was sent back to third and Scanlon capped the inning with a swinging strikeout, his fourth of the day. After the Bears went down in order in the bottom of the third, Scanlon gave way to Joe Wozny who was tasked with nailing down the postseason clinching win.
Wozny looked sharp from the outset, striking out the first two batters, the second on three pitches, before Mercy looped a single left to bring the tying run to the plate. In a key spot in the game, it was again the Bear defense that came through as Mega cut down an attempt to steal second to end the inning.
Mercy retired the Bears in order again in the bottom of the 5th, then attempted a rally by working two walks to put runners on first and second with one out. The righty fireballer responded with a pair of huge swinging strikeouts to move the Brook within three outs of the playoffs. The Bears then tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the 6th. Joe Wozny got things started with an infield single, moving to second on an overthrow by the third baseman. Tim Wozny followed with a textbook bunt down the first base line. His hustle forced a high throw that pulled the first baseman off the bag while heady base running from his big brother plated the Bears’ third run.
It would prove to be more than enough as Joe Wozny slammed the door on 19 years of agony with a masterful 7th inning in which he struck out the side, the last on a 3-2 count. As the final pitch slapped Mega’s glove the Bears poured out of the dugout for a cathartic, euphoric celebration. The Bears are back in the postseason.
Two regular season games remain that could determine playoff seeding. The Bears are back in action this afternoon in a match-up at Mercy.
Note: This is the Bears’ first shutout since a 1-0 win over Southold on April 16, 2014.