"People just want to hang out with us for some reason," centerfielder Travis Jankowski said Thursday. "I don't know why. They just love us."
With apologies to Kent State, the Seawolves have become the feel-good story of the summer in sports.
They're the first team from the Northeast since 1986 to make it to college baseball's biggest stage. They're here as a No. 4 regional seed, the lowest of the low, even though they won a nation-leading 52 games against just 13 losses. The last No. 4 to make it was Fresno State in 2008, and the Bulldogs ended up winning the national title.
Stony Brook coach Matt Senk has told his players to enjoy their new celebrity - and then be ready to show up and play ball Friday.
"We're looking to strike a balance," Senk said. "Our attention will be turning back to baseball."
The Seawolves will send staff ace Tyler Johnson (12-1) to the mound against Adam Plutko (11-3).
UCLA coach John Savage, asked if the Bruins are a bit forgotten in all the fuss about Stony Brook, said the situation reminds him of 2010 when TCU was here for the first time. The Horned Frogs were the clear hometown favorite when they played UCLA, and Savage expects the same for Stony Brook.
Kent State (46-18), the first Mid-American Conference team to play in the CWS since Eastern Michigan in 1976, opens Saturday against Arkansas (44-20). David Starn (11-3) will start against Arkansas' DJ Baxendale (7-5).