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Series-bound Seawolves receive hero's welcome

STONY BROOK -- Their motto is "shock the world." So far, so good for the Stony Brook Seawolves.

Stony Brook University, which began playing a Division I schedule only in 2000, is headed to the College World Series after pulling off a stunning upset of perennial baseball powerhouse LSU before 10,000 Tigers supporters in Baton Rouge, La.

The Seawolves, who won the last two games of a best-of-three series from LSU, including a 7-2 clincher Sunday night, are the first team from New York to reach the College World Series since 1980 and the first team from the Northeast since Maine in 1986.

But before heading to Omaha, Neb., where they take on UCLA on Friday, the Seawolves received a hero's welcome Monday on their campus 60 miles east of New York City. The crowd included mostly university staff and a smattering of students since the university is on a summer vacation.

Long Island Congressman Timothy Bishop was also among the dignitaries greeting the team as it got off a bus after landing at nearby Islip-MacArthur Airport.

As they had in the games against LSU, many players flashed an "O" hand signal, signifying their goal of making it to Omaha for the College World Series.

"It's unbelievable," said first baseman and outfielder Kevin Courtney of Lindenhurst. "This is really unexpected. We had friends and family come and support us at the airport, and then we came back here and see all these people. It's tremendous support. It's really what keeps us motivated and going."

Stony Brook coach Matt Senk, who was hired in 1991 to lead the then-Division III team, said the brief respite at home will benefit his players, who have been on the road for two weeks.

The team, which usually plays before only several hundred on its home field on Long Island, was not intimidated by the raucous LSU crowd, he said.

Although the team may be little known on the national stage, baseball scouts have taken notice. Seven Seawolves have been drafted by Major League Baseball teams, including center fielder Travis Jankowski, the Seawolves' leading hitter at .422.

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