STONY BROOK, N.Y. — Relentless. That is the best way to describe the Stony Brook University baseball team, especially its offense.
With the University of Maine pitching staff thinned by injuries, illness and fatigue, the Seawolves knocked the Black Bears out of the 2012 America East Baseball Championship on Friday.
Top-seeded Stony Brook completed its run through the conference season, claiming the America East title with a 13-6 victory over No. 4 UMaine at Joe Nathan Field.
Coach Steve Trimper’s team rode the pitching of Mike Connolly to a 5-1 win over Binghamton in Friday’s first game, but the Bears could not quiet the Seawolves’ bats in the finale.
UMaine finishes the season at 28-28, while Stony Brook (46-11) advances to the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship by virtue of the league’s automatic bid.
“I’m so proud of our guys,” Trimper said. “They battled through the tournament. They battled through an up-and-down year.”
Stony Brook relief pitcher James Campbell was named the tournament Most Outstanding Player. His efforts included four scoreless innings of two-hit ball on Friday.
The Bears placed three players on the All-Championship team in designated hitter Fran Whitten, outfielder Ian Leisenheimer and Connolly. Stony Brook’s honorees are Campbell, catcher Pat Cantwell, second baseman Maxx Tissenbaum and outfielder Travis Jankowski.
The squad also includes Nolan Gaige of Albany, along with Mike Augliera and Jay Lynch of Binghamton.
In the title game, the Black Bear trailed 7-6 in the seventh, but the Seawolves broke the game open by scoring four runs in the seventh and two more in the eighth.
Stony Brook rang out 18 hits against six different UMaine pitchers Friday and scored 27 runs in the two playoff meetings.
“It is a relentlessness,” Tissenbaum said. “It’s never giving away an out, never giving away an at-bat, offensively and defensively.”
The Seawolves’ assault was spearheaded by Willi Carmona, who jacked a three-run home run in the seventh and added an RBI single and a triple. Jankowski posted three singles with three RBIs and three runs scored.
Tissenbaum singled three times with two RBIs and Tanner Nivins added three more singles for Stony Brook.
Campbell (5-0) pitched four shutout innings and Frankie Vanderka worked the last two innings without giving up a hit.
“They’re a fundamentally sound team,” said UMaine’s Mike Fransoso. “Those guys deserve it. They played well and they’re going to go down there [to a regional] and they’re going to show people what they can do.”
Leisenheimer led UMaine with a two-run homer and a single, while Tyler Patzalek singled twice among the team’s seven hits. Justin Leisenheimer rapped an RBI double and Colin Gay added a single and a sacrifice fly.
Starter Jon Balentina was touched up for seven hits and six earned runs in only 2 1/3 innings, but Whitten (2-4) suffered the loss after giving up six hits and three runs in 3 2/3 innings.
“We battled our butts off,” Ian Leisenheimer said. “We did a great job with what we had. We can’t complain.”
SBU surged in the seventh when Cole Peragine and Courtney singled to chase Whitten. Connolly came on and committed a throwing error on a pickoff, then walked Jankowski intentionally.
Cantwell hit a sacrifice fly to right, then Carmona blasted a towering, three-run shot to right to make it 11-6.
“We obviously ran out of pitching a little bit,” Trimper said.
In the first game, Connolly (5-6) limited Binghamton to one run through eight innings as UMaine stayed alive.
The right-hander allowed only five singles and worked around four walks while striking out six. He threw 98 pitches, including 60 for strikes, and was aided by two inning-ending double plays.
“I just wanted to go out there and show that we deserved to be in the championship game,” Connolly said.
“We were low on pitching all week. Ever since the injuries at the beginning of the year, we know we’ve been low. That was our weak point.”
Connolly outdueled Binghamton junior righty Lynch (2-5), who afforded the Bears only six hits and two runs through the first seven innings. He struck out four and did not walk a batter, throwing 80 strikes among 95 pitches.
Fransoso doubled and singled and Gay singled twice to head UMaine. Ian Leisenheimer provided a double while Alex Calbick and Justin Leisenheimer contributed run-scoring singles.
Daniel Nevares stroked a double and a single and Dave Ciocchi singled twice for the Bearcats (23-26), who received a solo home run from Scott Hagan.
Maine jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Gay’s one-out single, his stolen base and Calbick’s single through the right side.
The Bears made it 2-0 in the second as Ian Leisenheimer lined a two-out double and raced home when Justin Leisenheimer flared a single to right.
Binghamton got a run back in the third inning when Hagan launched a solo home run.
UMaine, which rebuffed several threats by the Bearcats, finally added some insurance in the eighth against reliever Lee Sosa.
Troy Black and Gay opened with singles, then Fransoso grounded an RBI single back through the box. After Calbick walked, Whitten and Scott Heath of Westbrook hit consecutive sacrifice flies to make it 5-1.
Connolly had to work around considerable trouble in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings, two of which ended on double-play grounders.