Not a single Winthrop player or coach was sitting during the Eagles' 9-2 win over the Wagner Seahawks on Friday.
At the end of every inning, and for every great play made, the Winthrop dugout would emerge to celebrate with their teammates, maintaining a positive, energetic mantra that carried over onto the field.
For Winthrop's first-year head coach, Tom Riginos, who notched his first home-opening victory as an Eagle, this is precisely the mentality he wants his team to maintain going forward.
"I have a word for every single day, and today's word was energy," Riginos said. "I consider myself a positive person, and I strive to coach to my personality. So I really preach the idea of keeping our energy and optimism up for the entirety of every game. I can't be somebody that I'm not."
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Anchored by a stellar pitching performance from starter Tyler Mizenko and opportunistic hitting, Winthrop had a reason to smile all afternoon.
Mizenko threw six scoreless innings and allowed only a single hit, while the Eagles' bats ignited early and often. Senior catcher Eddie Rohan hit a two-run double in the first inning to give the Eagles a 3-0 lead. Rohan went 2-for-4, adding another RBI in the eighth inning as well as crossing the plate three more times.
Winthrop's lead would grow to 5-0, with Wagner's only offensive production coming in the seventh inning. With Justin Hopper relieving Mizenko, the Seahawks' Gaby Ramirez drove in second baseman Seth Boyd and centerfielder Joe Conforti with a line drive that was mishandled, cutting the Eagles' lead to three runs. But Winthrop set-up man Eric Ruth shut down the Seahawks for their last two at-bats, striking out two while the Eagles added four more runs.
After the victory, Mizenko and Rohan talked about Riginos' impact on the team as both a coach and source of motivation.
"It's all about excitement and positive energy, which is one of the main differences from last year to now," Mizenko said. "It keeps the team wanting to constantly improve and work at getting better."
"He demands us to keep our energy up and to focus on the task at hand," added Rohan, who needs 12 home runs to break Winthrop's school record. "The entire team operates on a pitch-by-pitch basis, and coach makes us focus on each and every thing that happens on the field."
The Eagles will face Kent State and Wagner again today in a doubleheader
Riginos believes if his team, now 2-2, can keep focused, they can make his first season successful.
"If we can compete for every single inning and every single pitch, then at the end of the season, the results will be exactly what we want them to be."