The Eagles bounced back with a strong offensive performance in 5-2 victory over Penn in the weekend series finale Sunday afternoon at The Winthrop Ballpark.
Along with daylight saving time, Winthrop’s offense sprung forward giving the Eagles an early lead as they were able to score in each of the first three innings. The Eagles manufactured a run in the first and were able to take advantage of a couple fielding miscues and two walks by Penn in the second inning. In that second inning, Winthrop scored two unearned runs, which proved to be enough as Tyler Klitsch (1-2) and reliever Sam Kmiec were able to contain the hot Quaker offense.
The hard-fought win for the Eagles breaks a six game losing skid and ups their record to 4-11. The loss drops Penn to 4-5 on the season.
Winthrop head coach Tom Riginos was pleased with Sunday’s win. “Today was a confidence game,” Riginos commented. “We have some guys really starting to swing the bat well.”
Winthrop manufactured a run in first when Drew Hardee led off the Eagles with a double down the left field line and was quickly advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Leighton Daniels. Left fielder Cody Dolan ripped the very next pitch up the middle for a single scoring Hardee and giving the Eagles a 1-0 lead.
The Quakers answered in the top of second scoring a couple of unearned runs off RBI base hits from Spencer Branigan and Mike Vilardo giving them the lead 2-1.
Penn’s lead didn’t last long as the Eagles were able to get to starting pitcher Cody Thomson (0-1) and take advantage of shaky Quaker defense. With the bases loaded, Kyle Edwards grounded the first pitch he saw to the second baseman, Vilardo. Vilardo misplayed the ball allowing Edwards to reach safely and scoring Mark Lowrie from third who had reach on an error earlier in the inning. With the bases still full of Eagles, Hardee drew a walk scoring Jace Whitley from third and giving the lead back to Winthrop 3-2.
Winthrop tallied single runs in the third and fifth with two RBI hits from Eagles outfielder TJ Olesczuk increasing the lead to 5-2.
Freshman left-hander Sam Kmiec collected his first career save as he took the mound in the sixth in relief of Klitsch and held the Quakers scoreless in 3.1 innings of work securing the win for the Eagles.
The Winthrop offense went off for 13 hits against Penn pitching led by outfielders Cody Dolan and Jace Whitley who each had three hits apiece. Dolan, now hitting .415 on the season, has reached base safely in every game he has played in this season (14) including seven multi-hit games. The Eagles also received a strong offensive outing from Olesczuk who had a two hits along with a pair of RBI’s on the afternoon. The strong weekend for Olesczuk offensively improves his batting average to .349 this year.
The Eagles now pack up and head to Johnson City, TN to take on East Tennessee State Tuesday night. The game is slated for a 7:00 p.m. first pitch and can be heard on the Winthrop Sports Network via www.winthropeagles.com.