A 7-4 victory over Binghamton on the second day of the America East Championship put Stony Brook University's baseball team on the cusp of the title and an NCAA bid. That could happen Friday when Stony Brook faces Maine or Binghamton at 3 p.m.
Meanwhile, Seawolves centerfielder Travis Jankowski may be on the verge of becoming a professional when Major League Baseball conducts its June draft. Joe Nathan Field contained a large contingent of scouts, including former Mets general manager Omar Minaya, now the senior vice president of baseball operations with the Padres.
"Just here to scout,'' Minaya said, adhering to the long-established credo of not tipping one's hand before the draft. It is widely believed that Jankowski and several of his teammates are on the scouts' radar.
"It's exciting,'' said Jankowski, a junior from Lancaster, Pa., who was named America East player of the year, "but I've been raised to be humble, so I just kind of brush it off until it happens. Once it happens, once the college season is over, that's when I kind of focus on professional baseball.''
The 6-2, 180-pound Jankowski had two of Stony Brook's six hits -- he has six in the first two games -- and is batting .407 with 16 doubles, nine triples, four home runs and 34 stolen bases.
He had one of his team's three RBIs against Binghamton (23-25), which committed two errors and allowed three unearned runs. Both miscues occurred in the seventh as Stony Brook (45-11) put the game away with four runs on only one hit, Jankowski's single to center.
Stony Brook starter Brandon McNitt allowed two runs in six innings and reliever James Campbell, another player being watched by the scouts, allowed two runs and struck out three in three innings. Catcher Pat Cantwell and third baseman Willie Carmona, also considered pro prospects, each had a hit.
No other Division I school offered Jankowski a baseball scholarship. He said he received interest from football coaches. "My high school baseball coach was pretty blunt,'' Jankowski said. "He goes, 'Listen, you're not going to withstand going across the middle [as a receiver] and meeting with a 250-pound linebacker. You're not going to survive. Baseball's your game if you want a career in it.''
Jankowski said that made his dad, Paul, who played at Indiana University (Pa.) and taught Travis the game, very happy.
Stony Brook coach Matt Senk can thank his recruiting coordinator, Joe Pennucci, for discovering Jankowski at a showcase in Florida. "I saw a video,'' Senk said. "The guy at the plate hit an absolute bomb to centerfield. Some guy out of nowhere goes over the fence and catches a home run ball. That's Travis.''
If Jankowski eventually makes the majors, he would become the second Stony Brook player to do so. The first was Joe Nathan, who played shortstop for Stony Brook, was drafted by the Giants in 1995 and has gone on to become a top-flight closer.
Nathan's success has made Stony Brook a destination for aspiring pros, Senk said: "Joe is a gift that just keeps giving.''