A surprise College World Series appearance two years ago introduced Stony Brook's baseball team to the nation. Even though the wins haven't come in big numbers since, Frankie Vanderka has kept the Seawolves relevant.
The senior right-hander pitched the third no-hitter of his career on Saturday in a 7-0 win over Albany.
"These guys are our rivals, and I woke up in the morning thinking that I didn't think these guys were going to hit me," Vanderka said. "I didn't think it would be a no-hitter."
Vanderka mixed a slider, changeup and sinker with a fastball that touched the upper 80s. He fanned four of Albany's first six batters and finished with 10 strikeouts. He walked two batters and hit one.
His previous no-hitters were against NJIT in March 2011 and Fordham in March 2013. In his three no-hitters, Vanderka has pitched 27 innings and struck out 29.
The NCAA does not track career no-hitters, but Vanderka (2-2, 2.48 ERA) surely is one of the few college pitchers to have thrown three.
"Everyone is giving me compliments and talking to me on Twitter. I love it," Vanderka said. "I don't think it has hit me yet."
Vanderka, from Levittown, N.Y., was one of the heroes of the Seawolves' 2012 postseason run. He pitched a three-hitter in the super regional-clinching win over LSU. Stony Brook went 0-2 at the CWS.
"That team a couple years ago was probably the best team I'll ever play on," the undrafted Vanderka said.
The Seawolves struggled last year, going 25-34 and finishing fourth in the America East Conference. They've won eight of their last 11 games and are 9-9 after sweeping their conference-opening series against Albany.
Vanderka can't say if he'll throw another no-hitter, but he said his CWS experience helped make him a confidence pitcher.
"There's nothing bigger than the College World Series," he said. "I figure every game, what do I have to be nervous about? It's not like I'm going out in front of 15,000. It's just another Saturday afternoon game."
A look around college baseball:
SEC LOGJAM: There's a five-way tie for first place after the second week of Southeastern Conference play. Kentucky accounted for the biggest surprise of the weekend, taking two of three from a South Carolina team that was No. 1 in two of the major polls.
Kentucky scored nine runs in the first two innings of the opener, and Chandler Shepherd improved to 5-0 after pitching 7 1-3 strong innings in the second game. The Gamecocks pulled out a win Sunday.
Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt all sit 3-3 in the conference.
BRUINS ON MOVE: Defending national champion UCLA has won seven of eight and has moved into a tie with Oregon and Washington for the Pac-12 lead. Lefty Grant Watson (4-1) allowed one earned run in eight innings of a 4-2 victory over Washington State. The Bruins' ace lowered his ERA to 1.76, with 28 strikeouts in 41 innings. His only loss was to Cal Poly on Feb. 22.
BEAVERS BITTEN: Oregon State, ranked as high as fourth in two polls last week, dropped a series to Arizona State and lost back-to-back games for the first time since losing to Nebraska and Michigan State on Feb. 21-22. The Beavers had started the weekend on an 11-game win streak.
WOEFUL WOLFPACK: North Carolina State's losing streak has stretched to six games. The Wolfpack was swept on the road by Florida State and Maryland on consecutive weekends. They're batting .238 during the skid and have scored a total of 17 runs, with eight of them coming in a 13-inning loss to FSU.
VANDY STREAK ENDS: Mississippi State took two of three games from Vanderbilt, ending the Commodores' streak of 23 consecutive regular-season series victories, including 15 straight SEC series. Vandy hadn't lost a series since dropping two of three at Alabama in April 2012.
HAWKEYES KEEP ROLLING: First-year coach Rick Heller has Iowa in a tie for first place in the Big Ten. That's unfamiliar territory for a long-struggling program. The Hawkeyes won two of three against Nebraska to improve to 14-6 overall, Iowa's best start since the 1993 team opened 17-5.