ROCK HILL, SC- The Winthrop baseball team opened the 2014 season with a doubleheader sweep over Akron, as the Eagles claimed game one 6-5 in extra innings before winning the second game 6-2.
After giving up a run in the top of the first inning, Winthrop fought back and scored five runs in the next three innings to take a 5-1 lead. Sophomore Stephen Wallace scored off a wild pitch from Akron pitcher John Valek III to put the Eagles on the board. Junior Brad Kaczka drove home two runs with a double to left field that scored senior Leighton Daniels and sophomore Kyle Edwards. Freshman Babe Thomas’ single in the third scored John Menken who had reached base on a single, and Daniels scored the fifth run on an RBI single in the fifth to make the score 5-1.
The momentum swung back in Akron’s favor when Matt LaRocca cracked a two-run home run to make it a 5-3 game in the fourth inning. Akron came back in the seventh inning to tie the game 5-5. Catcher Zac Goodno kept the game tied by coming up with a big defensive play and tag at home plate in the eighth inning.
Goodno proved to be the offensive hero as well, in the tenth inning when he drove home Luke Maldanado for the winning run with a double to deep center. Sam Kmiec got the start in the first game for Winthrop and went six innings. Jason Driver came in to pitch the last three innnings and got the victory.
In game two, sophomore Joey Strain pitched eight innings to get the win as he held the Zips to two runs on seven hits.
The second game started off much like the first as Akron scored on an RBI single by James Meeker III in the second inning. Winthrop bounced right back in the bottom of the second inning to score three times. Thomas led off with a walk and scored Wallace’s home run to left field. Daniels followed with a double and scored the third run of the inning on a single by Kyle Edwards. Winthrop made it a 6-1 game with two more runs in the fourth and a single run in the fifth. Akron got a solo home run from Joey Havrilak in the seventh inning to close out the scoring.
Head Coach Tom Riginos was pleased with his team’s opening day performance. “I thought we played well in all three phases of the Game. We pitched really well all day, swung the bats and played defense. I was really proud of how we got down and came back in both games.”
Winthrop will travel to Cullowhee, NC to take on Western Carolina this Tuesday at 4:00 p.m.