Stony Brook's baseball team has drawn four-time national champion Miami in the NCAA's Coral Gables Regional starting Friday at Alex Rodriguez Park. The bracket includes Central Florida and Missouri State.
Miami has a storied history, but no Hurricane warning was sounded when the Seawolves' opponent was announced Monday. "Just because we're from Stony Brook doesn't mean we should be in awe of Miami," centerfielder Travis Jankowski said.
Second baseman Maxx Tissenbaum added: "It's business, not just go down there and enjoy Miami and play a couple of ballgames and hope we do well. We're going down there to really beat some people. I'll take our guys against any guys in the country with the lineup that we have and pitching that we have. I think we have a very confident group with whoever we face."
No. 23 Miami (36-21) has the 12th-ranked ERA (2.96) but is batting only .261 as a team. Catcher Peter O'Brien (.348, 10 homers, 39 RBIs) has battled injuries. Miami is in the tournament for the 40th straight year, extending its own record.
America East champion Stony Brook (46-11), which is making its fourth NCAA appearance, has the best winning percentage (.807) in Division I. "With Central Florida [43-15] and Missouri State [39-20] in the bottom half," Tissenbaum said, "I think if we can get through Miami in that first game, we'll have a good chance to put ourselves in a good situation late in the regional."
Several Stony Brook players have competed against major-college players during the summer in the Cape Cod League and believe that will help. "You see guys do certain things on TV and you think they are the greatest player alive," said pitcher Tyler Johnson, who is likely to start against Miami. "When you meet them in person, you realize they are the same size as you, same build, same kind of talent."
Jankowski, Stony Brook's top pro prospect, agreed, saying: "We were facing the best players in the nation day in and day out. When we go to a regional and we're playing the best 64 teams in college baseball, we kind of know we can compete with these guys at a high level."
Stony Brook has played one game against Miami, in 2003. "We lost, 9-8, in 10 innings," coach Matt Senk recalled. "The guy who hit a sacrifice fly to beat us was Ryan Braun . So we have played there and competed our butts off."