Senior pitcher Matt Pierpont led the Winthrop baseball team to a 3-1 victory against Presbyterian College in the Big South opener Friday afternoon at The Winthrop Ballpark.
Pierpont (2-3) went the distance for the Eagles, limiting the Blue Hose to just one run on eight hits while striking out six and not walking a batter. The only damage issued by Presbyterian came with two outs in the first inning on back-to-back doubles. Pierpont answered by dealing 8 1/3 innings of shutout baseball to close out the game.
Winthrop coach Tom Riginos was extremely pleased with the performance he got from his senior starting pitcher.
“He (Pierpont) is the most competitive kid I’ve been around,” Riginos said. “We talk about mental toughness. This is what mental toughness is. He gave up one run in the first then he settled down and continued to put zeros down the rest of the game.”
The Blue Hose carried a 1-0 lead into the seventh when Winthrop’s bats came alive. First baseman Clay Altman drove in the Eagles’ first run of the game on a double down the left field line, scoring Cody Dolan from first base to tie the game at 1. After being moved over to third on a sacrifice bunt by Jace Whitley, Altman came in to score on a dropped fly by the center fielder off the bat of Kyle Edwards. The Eagles took advantage of the fielding miscue and scored on a perfectly executed double steal to up the lead to 3-1.
The two-run lead was all Pierpont needed as he went on to shut down the Blue Hose offense and hammer down the win for the Eagles in his first complete game of the season.
The win improved Winthrop’s record to 7-14 (1-0 Big South) while Presbyterian dropped to 13-10 (3-1 Big South).
Due to expected showers in the area, the weekend schedule has been revised. The teams will now play a doubleheader on Saturday starting at 2 p.m.
Presbyterian got on the board early with back-to-back doubles by Brad Zebedis and Brandon Paul giving the Blue Hose a 1-0 lead in the first.
Starting pitchers Beau Dees (3-2) and Pierpont settled in and continued to throw zeros up on the scoreboard until the seventh. The Eagles were finally able to get to Beau in the bottom of the seventh. Dolan led off the inning with a single to left field and was brought around to score on a double down the left field line by Altman. Altman was then sacrificed over to third on a bunt by Whitley and came into score on a dropped fly ball. The error allowed Chad Smith (who had reached on a walk) to advance to third base as Edwards ended up on first. During the next at-bat, Edwards took off and stole second. On the throw down to second, Smith alertly stole home, giving the Eagles the 3-1 lead.
Pierpont took over from there and shut down the Blue Hose hitters as he collected his second win of the season on his third career complete game.
“We didn’t scorch the ball around the ballpark but we got some big hits when we needed it,” Riginos said. “It was a good win for us.”