The Winthrop baseball team looks to continue the winning trend as the Eagles welcome Rhode Island to Winthrop Ballpark for a three-game series over the weekend.
The Eagles (5-11) have won their past two games against Penn and East Tennessee State for their first back-to-back wins of the season. Winthrop looks to continue its winning ways against Rhode Island (3-11) who come to town for three games slated for Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m.
Tuesday, Winthrop traveled to East Tennessee and collected their fifth win of the season in a tight 2-1 ball game that was dominated by strong pitching on both sides. The Eagles managed to plate two runs against tough Buccaneer pitching off a sacrifice fly and an RBI fielders choice from Stephen Wallace.
The story of this game, however, was the Eagles pitching staff. Freshman starting pitcher Joey Strain (1-2) collected his first career collegiate win in his best start of the season on the mound holding the Buccaneers to only one run on eight hits while whiffing three over five innings. Strain received strong support out of the bullpen as Steven Howell, Josh Strong, Jared Keels, and Eric Ruth combined in the final four innings to hammer down the victory for the Eagles.
Winthrop has a home field advantage in the upcoming weeks as 11 out of the next 12 games will be played at The Winthrop Ballpark.
First on the docket is Rhode Island this weekend. This will be the first meeting between the two schools in program history. The Rams, who have yet to play a home game, are off slow a start this season much due to the tough schedule they have seen so far that includes road trips to No. 5 Florida State (15-0), No. 8 Ole Miss (16-1), and No. 10 Mississippi State (17-2). Rhode Island is coming off a 33-25-1 season in 2012.
Leading the Rams on the mound this season has been Sean Furney (0-2), Mike Bradstreet (1-2), and Bobby Dean (1-0). Meanwhile, as a unit, the Rhode Island staff has compiled a 6.54 ERA while opposing offenses are hitting at a .271 clip against them. At the plate Rhode Island has gotten good production out of Joe Landi (.319 avg) and Shane OConnell (.292 avg). As a team, the Rams are hitting .234 while averaging four runs per game.
The Eagles have gotten strong offensive production out of the middle of their lineup as the bats of Cody Dolan (.386 avg.), Clay Altman (.386 avg.), T.J. Olesczuk (.349 avg.) have really come alive. In the month of March alone Altman is hitting .467 with a .529 on base percentage while Olesczuk is hitting .458 with five RBIs.
Dolan continues to lead the team in both slugging percentage (.526) and on base percentage (.455).
The strongest aspect of the team this year continues to be the pitching. The Winthrop bullpen led by Eric Ruth, Mitchell Knox, Steven Howell, Sam Kmiec, Josh Strong, and Jared Keels, maintains a 3.05 ERA while holding hitters to a .245 batting average. In 65 innings of relief work this season, the bullpen has struck out 70 batters and walked only 28 while 73% (35 of 48) of inherited base runners have been left stranded.
The Eagles continue to receive strong starts on the mound as well from Matt Pierpont (1-2), Joey Strain (1-2), and Tyler Klitsch (1-2).