Bears Crush Fieldston, Return to State Final

The Bears celebrate their return to the state final (PC: Jackson Loo)

On a gorgeous Monday afternoon on Jeff Adams Field, the baseball team earned another date with history following a 10-2 victory over #6 Fieldston in the NYSAIS Semifinals. It was a rematch of last’s year’s state semi, which the Bears took 7-3, and the Eagles came ready to fight.

In last year’s match-up, Fieldston struck in the top of the 1st inning and repeated the feat on Monday as a leadoff single, two stolen bases, and an error brought a run across that elicited a roar from the Eagles’ dugout. A walk followed, but Alex Baaden settled down and induced a pair of lineouts to end the inning.

The Bear offense ensured their deficit was short-lived, plating two in the bottom of the 1st to take a lead they would not relinquish. Jayden Stroman led off with a sharp grounder into right field, stole second base, and moved to third on a passed ball. Ball four to Aiden Ruiz was a wild pitch that allowed Stroman to dash home for a 1-1 tie. Ruiz proceeded to steal second and third as the Bears continued to be aggressive on the basepaths, and Jojo Franco knocked in Ruiz on a double that one-hopped the wall in right-center field.

The Eagles led off the 2nd with a single to right-center. An unorthodox fielder’s choice followed as right fielder Travis Stroud II appeared a make a sliding catch but only trapped the ball. The runner at first thought the catch was made, sending him back to first and allowing for an easy 9-6 putout at second. Two pitches later, catcher Juju Martinez made a snap throw behind the runner at first to pick him off for the second out of the inning. Baaden slammed the inning shut with a strikeout.

The Bears went down in order in their half of the second, but Baaden used two strikeouts to get through the top of the 3rd unscathed. In the bottom of the 3rd, Stroud II earned a leadoff walk. Two batters later, Ruiz sent a sharp line drive to right that allowed Stroud II to motor into third base. A Logan Charboneau sacrifice fly plated Stroud II with a 3-1 lead.

In the 4th, Baaden quickly registered two outs before back-to-back singles had the Eagles threatening once again. The next batter worked a full count but grounded out to Baaden on the payoff pitch to end the inning. The Bears continued to edge out their lead in the 4th. Franco was hit by a pitch to open the frame, but the next two Bears recorded outs. Franco stole second before Seth Laureano and Nico Marino earned walks. A walk to Stroud II pushed the Blue & White advantage to 4-1.

The Eagles opened the 5th with a single and, after a pair of stolen bases, had a runner on third with only one out. A sacrifice fly pulled the Eagles back within 2-4 to bring their fans back to life, but their hope would quickly dim as The Brook broke the game open in the bottom of the 5th.

The inning began innocuously enough with an error by the shortstop that put Ruiz safely on first. The freshman then stole second before a Franco single brought him all the way around for a 5-2 advantage. Jordan Serrano followed with a rope to left, and Martinez moved both runners up with a sacrifice bunt. With two outs on the board, Fieldston had a chance to escape further damage, but Mateo Lopez smacked a pinch-hit double that landed just inside the left field line, plating a pair for a 7-2 lead. Marino and Stroud II followed with RBI singles for a 9-2 margin before Stroman doubled over the center fielder’s head as the lead swelled to 10-2.

Baaden came back out for the 6th and threw a shutdown inning, Fieldston’s only 1-2-3 frame of the afternoon, putting the Bears three outs away from a return trip to the NYSAIS Championship. Nick Parker came on in relief and struck out the first two batters before a walk and a double delayed history for just a few more moments. Parker struck out the final batter to send the Bears pouring out of the dugout in a raucous celebration.

Baaden earned the win by giving up just 1 earned run in 6.0 innings while striking out 6. Franco, Lopez, and Stroud II led the offense with 2 RBIs apiece.

The victory was a historic one as the squad joined the 2009 girls’ soccer team and last year’s baseball team as the only Stony Brook teams to reach the final of a state tournament. This afternoon vs. #1 Poly Prep, they hope to join the legendary girls’ soccer squad as the only other state tournament champion in school history.

Photos courtesy of Jackson Loo


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