The Winthrop baseball team scored eight runs in the first two innings on Friday afternoon as it picked up a 14-9 win over the San Diego State Aztecs in the 2011 season opener at Tony Gwynn Stadium.
It also marked the first career coaching victory for new Winthrop coach Tom Riginos.
"I'm very proud of the guys this afternoon," Riginos said. "A lot of pitchers got their feet wet today and got some innings. We competed for all nine innings and the energy level was up right from the get-go. That was the key to the game."
Mitchell Knox (1-0) picked up his first career win as an Eagle tossing 2 innings of relief and gave up one run on four hits, no walks and no strikeouts. He came on in relief of starter Tyler Mizenko in the fifth inning. Bryan Crabb (0-1) took the loss for the Aztecs surrendering eight runs on nine hits, one walk and two strikeouts in 3 innings of work.
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"Mitchell did very well today," Riginos said. "He had some tough conditions to pitch in, but I was proud of him."
Winthrop wasted little time jumping out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first highlighted by a three-run double to left center field by Brett Thomas. Sean Sullivan followed Thomas one batter later with an RBI single to left field that scored Thomas.
San Diego State responded by scoring three runs of its own in the bottom of the first and cut the deficit to 4-3. Brandon Meredith started the scoring for the Aztecs with his RBI double to right center field and Jomel Torres drove him with an RBI double to centerfield. Torres later scored on an RBI groundout to first base by Cody Smith.
The Eagles then brought in four more runs during the second inning with two of those coming on a two RBI triple off the right field wall by Eddie Rohan. Thomas and Matt Lobacz also added an RBI single apiece in the inning as well.
Meredith made it an 8-5 contest in the bottom of the fourth with his two-run homer off Mizenko to left field. It became an 8-6 game in the sixth when Denny Vigo hit a pinch-hit solo home run to left field against Knox.
Winthrop would increase its lead after scoring three runs each in the seventh and eighth innings. Chas Crane came home in the seventh inning on Thomas's RBI sacrifice fly to left field and Rohan scored after a Brad Haynal throwing error attempting to pick off Sullivan at first. Sullivan would then score on a passed ball after TJ Olesczuk struck out swinging. In the eighth inning, Rohan drove in two more runs on a double down the left field line and scored on a wild pitch.
The Aztecs scored three runs, one in the seventh and two in the eighth, to make it a 14-9 contest. Haynal drove in Dillon Bryant on his RBI double to left field in the seventh, and Bryant posted an RBI single in the eight. Meredith also scored in the eighth inning on a wild pitch by reliever Eric Ruth.
Thomas finished the afternoon leading the Eagles offensively with a 3-for-4 performance with five RBIs, and Rohan added four RBIs with two hits. Meredith had a team-high three hits and three RBIs for San Diego State.
"Brett has been swinging the bat really well," said Riginos. "In the fall he was probably our best hitter. He just kept going during the spring workouts."
Winthrop will be back in action at 2 p.m. today as it will face the San Diego Toreros at Cunningham Stadium.