The Seawanhaka Sports Rundown is a weekly roundup of five stories that examine developments in sports news at the local, state, national, and international levels.
By: COOPER ALBERS / STAFF REPORTER
Tampa Bay Rays Historic Start to the Season
Tampa Bay’s win streak may have come to an end, but their historic start to the season will be remembered for years to come.
On Friday, the Tampa Bay Rays were defeated by the Toronto Blue Jays 6-3 at Rogers Center. The loss marks their first of the season after starting an incredible 13-0, tying the modern era record for the best start to a season.
The Rays matched the record in front of an ecstatic home crowd after defeating the Boston Red Sox 9-3 on Thursday. They now hold the best start to a season in over 30 years and stand alongside the 1982 Atlanta Braves and the 1987 Milwaukee Brewers, trailing solely behind the 1884 St. Louis Maroons.
The historic run was characterized by home runs, shutouts and double-digit scoring efforts. Throughout the 13 games, the Rays outscored their opponents by an average of 4.02 runs with a total run differential of +71.
“The 13 straight, winning the way that we did, it’s great,” Second Baseman Brandon Lowe reflected. “I think 162-0 was probably out of the question, but it was a great run. The best thing about losing a streak is you get to start a new one.”
LIU Softball Sweeps Stonehill
LIU Softball grabbed the brooms to sweep Stonehill in dominant fashion.
Over the weekend, LIU Softball traveled over to Massachusetts for a three-game series at Stonehill College. From the opening pitch of the series, the Sharks dominated the Skyhawks, sweeping the series with ease.
On Friday, the Sharks erupted six runs in the third inning and would hold the lead to win 8-2. The offensive surge was complimented with an incredible pitching performance by Lindsey Cowans. After giving up a two-run homer in the first inning, Cowans threw six scoreless with six strikeouts.
Saturday’s doubleheader saw more of the same. In Game 1, Kira Buckner commanded the mound for seven innings, giving up just one run on three hits with six strikeouts. The game saw strong plate performances headlined by home runs from Gabby Padilla and Alexia Castro. The Sharks went on to win the game 12-2.
In Game 2 of the doubleheader, it was Alyssa O’Donnel’ls turn to shut down the Skyhawks. O’Donnell threw a complete game, giving up just one run and four hits with nine strikeouts. Once again, Castro came in clutch at the plate with three more RBIs (six on the day, eight in the series). The Sharks again defeated the Skyhawks 6-1.
With the sweep, LIU softball improves to 11-4 in conference play (25-18 overall). On Wednesday, they host Army West Point at 3 PM on Long Island.
NBA Playoffs Tip Off
At long last, the NBA Playoffs are here.
On Saturday night, the NBA Playoffs tipped off after the highly competitive Play-In Tournament. The Play-In, established in 2021, saw teams compete for the seventh and eighth seeds in their respective conferences.
On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves in OT to advance to secure the seventh seed in the West. Likewise, the Atlanta Hawks defeated the Miami Heat to secure the seventh seed in the East. On Thursday, the Timberwolves beat the Oklahoma City Thunder to earn the eighth seed in the West and the Heat defeated the Chicago Bulls to do the same in the East.
With the results of the Play-In, the bracket was set and the Playoffs were underway. Action tipped off on Saturday and saw an exciting first night of games.
In Philadelphia, the 76ers (3) dominated the Brooklyn Nets (6) 121-101, and MVP Candidate Joel Embiid led the way with 26 points. The Boston Celtics (2) defeated the Atlanta Hawks (7) 112-99, with Jaylen Brown leading the way with 29.
In their first playoff appearance in 16 seasons, The Sacramento Kings (3) took down the defending Golden State Warriors (6) 126-123 in front of an electric home crowd with an incredible 38-point performance from De’Aaron Fox. Rounding out the first night of Playoff action was the New York Knicks (5), who managed to steal a game in Cleveland after defeating the Cavaliers (4) 101-97. Brunson led the way for the Knicks with a spectacular 27-point performance.
2023 WNBA Draft Becomes Second-Highest Viewed in League History
Last Monday, the WNBA Draft served as another instance reflecting the steady rise in popularity of women’s basketball at the collegiate and professional levels.
The draft saw the Indiana Fever select former South Carolina forward Aliyah Boston with the first-overall pick. Boston averaged 13 PTS, 9.8 REB and 2 BLK during the 2023 season, leading the Gamecocks to their third consecutive Final Four. Accumulating an impressive collegiate resume, Boston is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2021-22 National Player of the Year, four consecutive Lisa Leslie Awards and a National Championship as the cherry on top.
The Draft came just a week after the NCAA Women’s Championship game, where the LSU Tigers defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes. The highly-anticipated matchup, televised on ABC and ESPN, broke viewership records with nearly 10 million viewers. The game now holds the record for the most-watched women's college basketball game in history and the most-viewed college event ever streamed on ESPN+ (men or women).
Following the trend set by the NCAA Championship game, the WNBA Draft boasted massive viewership numbers. The event welcomed 572,000 viewers (up 42% year-over-year), becoming the second-most viewed Draft in WNBA history (highest since 2004).
Jake Paul v. Nate Diaz Scheduled for Boxing Match
This summer will see the Problem Child’s biggest fight yet.
On Wednesday afternoon, officials told ESPN that Jake Paul is set to take on UFC fan-favorite Nate Diaz in a boxing match on August 5th in Dallas, Texas. The eight-round matchup will be streamed live on PPV by DAZN.
“August 5th we commemorate the funeral for Nathaniel Diaz as we send him in casket back to Dana [White],” Paul wrote to Twitter. “Refreshments will be provided at the service. Black Tie Attire.”
The fight will see Paul’s first bout since he suffered his first career loss to Tommy Fury earlier this year. Paul has highlight-reel wins over some of the biggest names in combat including Tyron Woodley and Anderson Silva. Coming off of a loss, however, Paul’s back is against the wall.
No walk-in-the-park, Diaz’s resume speaks for itself. The Stockton, California native has become one of the biggest draws in combat sports. The former winner of The Ultimate Fighter has headlined 10 UFC events, including UFC 196 where he handed Conor McGregor his first-ever UFC loss.
Paul and Diaz have engaged in trash talk with each other for nearly two years, even getting into a physical altercation backstage at one of Paul’s fights. With Diaz freshly out of his UFC contract, the two will finally meet this summer to settle things once-and-for-all.