Tyler Mizenko's adjustment to starting games on the mound rather than finishing them is a success, at least through the Winthrop junior right-hander's first three outings.
Friday afternoon at The Winthrop Ballpark, Mizenko threw eight-plus innings to beat Notre Dame, 4-2.
In the second game of the 2011 Coca-Cola Classic, the Eagles beat the Manhattan Jaspers 10-3.
Mizenko (2-0) allowed five hits, walked one and struck out two and lowered his ERA to 2.50. It's the most innings he has thrown in his career.
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Mizenko was the Eagles' closer in his first two seasons. He set the school record for saves in a single season as a freshman. Last year he was under-utilized as the team limped to a 27-30 overall record.
"I'm not going out looking for strikeouts,' Mizenko said. "I'm looking for ground balls to get out of every inning as fast as I can."
Notre Dame took a 2-0 lead in the second inning.
Trey Mancini ripped a line drive back at Mizenko to lead off the inning. Mizenko used his glove hand to deflect the ball and knock it down and threw out Mancini.
Frank DeSico followed with a double down the left field line. He stole third base and came home on Charlie Markson's triple to right-center. Greg Sherry brought Markson in on a ground out.
"Early on, my off-speed pitches weren't there but I was able to locate my fastball," Mizenko said. "Last year I let it all out for one inning. This year I'm watching my pitch count more."
Notre Dame didn't mount a serious threat after the second inning. Eric Jagielo led off the eighth with a double to chase Mizenko after 95 pitches. Tommy Lawrence came on to retire the side in order to earn his first save of the season
Freshman right fielder T.J. Olesczuk missed an opportunity to drive in runs in the Eagles' half of the second inning. When he got another chance in the fourth, he came through with a two-run double to tie the game.
Matt Lobacz drove in the go-ahead run in the sixth inning. Brett Thomas and Patrick Gamblin collected one-out singles. Lobacz' base hit drove in Thomas and moved Gamblin to third.
Winthrop first-year coach Tom Riginos talked to Lobacz before his sixth-inning at-bat against Notre Dame starter Cole Johnson.
"Coach told me to sit change-up and that's what I saw. He left the pitch up," Lobacz said of Riginos' advice.
Lobacz, a sophomore in his first season with the Eagles after transferring from Young Harris College in Georgia, ripped Johnson's first offering into right field. Gamblin scored on an infield error to give the Eagles a 4-2 lead.
"(Johnson) was throwing first-pitch fastballs, but as he got further into the game he seemed more comfortable with off-speed pitches."
Johnson (1-2) scattered eight hits and struck out five in seven innings of work. Notre Dame fell to 3-5 with the loss.
Gamblin finished 3-for-4 starting in left field. He will be getting more playing time with tri-captain outfielder Sean Sullivan out for the season with an elbow injury.
Thomas was 2-for-4 in the game. Winthrop snapped a three-game losing streak with the win.
In Game 2, Eric Ruth (1-0) pitched three scoreless innings and gave up just two walks and two strikeouts took the win. Winthrop starter Robert Lake threw 6.0 innings in game two giving up three runs on eight hits, one walk and five strikeouts.
"Robert Lake kept us in the second game and we scored a couple of late runs," Riginos said. "It was good situational hitting."
The Eagles fell behind to Manhattan 3-0 heading into the fifth inning after the Jaspers scored a run each in the first, fourth and fifth innings. Anthony Vega brought home Mark Onorati with his RBI groundout in the first inning, and Nick Camastro singled home Austin Sheffield in the fourth. Onorati led things off for Manhattan in the top of the fifth with his second homer of the season.
After that Winthrop would hold the Jaspers scoreless as it drove home 10 unanswered runs including seven combined in the seventh and eighth innings.
The Eagles cut the deficit to 3-1 in the fifth inning when Walters brought in Olesczuk with an RBI groundout, and in the sixth inning Gamblin brought in the first run with his RBI sacrifice fly to right field and Matt Pierpont gave Winthrop the lead for good with an RBI double down the left field line. The Eagles seventh inning was highlighted by a pinch-hit two RBI single by Brett Thomas, while Olesczuk and Chas Crane recorded an RBI each. Crane would add another RBI single in the eighth inning, and Lobacz and Tyler Cook both drew bases loaded walks.
Crane, Rohan and Olesczuk recorded two hits each in the doubleheader finale, and Crane and Thomas had two RBI apiece. Onorati and Sheffield led Manhattan offensively with 2-for-4 performances, while Onorati, Vega and Camastro all had one RBI.
Winthrop will wrap up Coca-Cola play on today as it will host the Fighting Irish and Jaspers in the second and third games of the day. Notre Dame and Manhattan will play the first game on Saturday beginning at 10:30 a.m., with the Eagles playing the next two games 45 minutes after the conclusion of the previous contest.