Former Terra Nova baseball left-hander Jared Milch is really rolling at Stony Brook.
Since the Seawolves opened their season with a 4-7 record in non-conference play, the NCAA Division I program in New York has opened American East Conference play with eight straight wins.
Most recently, Stony Brook swept a four-game weekend series from University of Hartford, anchored by one of Milch’s quintessential gems of the year in last Friday’s 7-1 victory. Milch took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and finished with seven frames of one-hit, shutout ball.
“Fun weekend, for sure,” Milch said. “For all of us.”
Milch and his Stony Brook teammates are now getting wide-eyed about a potential return to the postseason. With no playoffs last season due to the season’s cancelation because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Seawolves last advanced to the NCAA postseason tournament two years ago.
Milch had a hand in delivering the Seawolves to the Field of 64, earning the start in the American East Tournament championship game against Binghamton, taking a no-decision in an eventual 7-5 Stony Brook victory.
“We had one goal in mind the whole way, and we knew if we got it done, we’d be in,” Milch said. “So, it was a great feeling.”
It should come as no surprise Milch found himself in the NCAA postseason. The Pacifica native is as perennial a playoff mainstay as the Derek Jeters, LeBron Jameses and Tom Bradys of the world. When asked the last time a team he played for didn’t qualify for the postseason, Milch said he honestly couldn’t remember. That’s probably because it’s been a while.
A long while.
“I think ultimately that’s why I came to Stony Brook because they have such a storied history as a successful program,” Milch said.
Prior to Stony Brook, Milch pitched two years at College of San Mateo, playing in the California Community College playoffs in 2017 and ’18. He started the playoff finale for the Bulldogs in 2017, then earned two postseason wins for them in 2018.
And at Terra Nova from 2014 to ’16, the Tigers advanced to the Central Coast Section playoffs all three years. While they won just one playoff game in those three years, it was Milch who earned the victory for Terra Nova manager John Vallero in an 11-7 upset of Santa Teresa in the 2016 CCS Open Division tournament.
Vallero has earlier memories of Milch’s knack for the postseason stage, though, as Terra Nova’s former skipper used to coach in the Pacifica American Little League. It was in the playoffs of Milch’s 12-year-old season that the southpaw absolutely shoved, dominating Vallero’s squad and summarily ending its season.
“There’s no doubt,” Vallero said. “He’s not fazed by anything. He’s got all the confidence in the world in himself. He’s not intimidated by anything. And he’s a super knowledgeable pitcher.”
Friday’s outing for Stony Brook was one of Milch’s best outings since transferring there three years ago. He faced just one over the minimum through his first five innings of work before surrendering a two-out double to John Thrasher. Milch departed after seven innings, striking out seven for his second win of the year.
“I think it was a combination of throwing all four of my pitches for strikes and my defense working really hard,” Milch said.
Stony Brook’s entire starting rotation is proving at the top of its game right now. Through the Seawolves’ four wins against Hartford, the bullpen only had to work a total of 4 2/3 innings. In the series finale, starter Nick DeGennaro worked 7 2/3 innings. And Sam Turcotte and Brian Herrmann each fired seven-inning complete games.
“All of our starters have a really good thing going right now,” Milch said. “I don’t want to jinx anything, but we’ve all been throwing really well and saving arms throughout the weekend.”
Stony Brook is currently 8-0 in conference play and sitting comfortably in first place in the American East Conference Division B. Each of the other seven teams in the American East have records of .500 or below. The top two teams from each division qualify for the American East Tournament in May, with the winner of the tournament earning the conference’s only automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.