ARLINGTON -- Stony Brook made its College World Series debut Friday, opening play in Omaha by facing UCLA, the tournament's No. 2 overall seed.
Rangers closer Joe Nathan, the namesake of the Seawolves' baseball field, played for Stony Brook for three seasons and was drafted by the Giants in the sixth round in 1995. Stony Brook upset the NCAA Tournament's No. 7 overall seed, LSU, in the Baton Rouge Super Regional last week. The Tigers beat the Seawolves, 5-4, in 12 innings before Stony Brook took Games 2 and 3 to punch their ticket to Omaha.
"If they come out and play anything like they did against LSU, they've got a shot," Nathan said. "I guess they're going in as the underdog, but I've said all along that these guys can play and they can play at this level. They can win some games."
Nathan said that he has not spoken with the Stony Brook squad, but is considering traveling to Omaha on Thursday, when the Rangers have a day off, if the Seawolves are still playing.
Stony Brook catcher Patrick Cantwell is one of three Rangers selections from this year's First-Year Player Draft participating in the College World Series. Cantwell, a .296 hitter who drove in 32 runs, was taken in the third round by the Rangers, who later picked a pair of Kent State players, pitcher Ryan Bores (27th round) and catcher David Lyon (34th round).
"I'd like to see Stony Brook win," Michael Young said. "This is Joe's team. And I'm sure everybody is pulling for the underdog, especially in college sports."
Travis Jankowski, who leads the NCAA with 109 hits, leads a Stony Brook offense that boasts a .335 team batting average, the second-highest in the country. The Seawolves' 2.99 team ERA and .978 fielding percentage are both the 12th-best in the country.
Despite seeing his Baylor Bears fall to the Arkansas Razorbacks in the Waco Super Regionals, David Murphy, who attended Baylor's Game 3 loss Monday, will be pulling for Stony Brook.
"It's cool to see the Cinderella story and what will happen with it because obviously they beat a good team in LSU," Murphy said. "They're capable and it'll be fun to see what they do in front of a national audience."