Winthrop coach Tom Riginos said his team grew up in its 8-5 win over Michigan in the first day of the Bojangles Baseball Classic at The Winthrop Ballpark.
The Eagles (6-5) won their fourth straight game by breaking a 5-5 tie with a three-run eighth inning.
"I think we learned how to win today," Riginos said. "Winning one and two-run ball games builds character. That's what you are looking for as a coach."
Winthrop starting pitcher Tyler Mizenko didn't have his best stuff in his fourth outing of the season. Michigan scored three times on the Eagles' junior in the first inning.
Derek Dennis led off the game with a single and then took second on a balk by Mizenko.
One out later, Patrick Biondi lined a single to right-center field to score Dennis.
Mizenko hit Michael O'Neill with a pitch and then walked Garrett Stephens to load the bases. John Lorenz lined a 2-0 pitch to right field for a two-run single.
Mizenko needed 30 pitches to get out of the first. He lasted four and one-third innings before being lifted for Eric Ruth.
Ruth (2-0) earned the win. He scattered four hits and a walk while striking out a career-high seven batters.
Riginos said he looked at Ruth on the mound in the eighth inning and knew the sophomore wanted to be out there battling.
"He was huge for us," Riginos said of Ruth's performance. "You could tell he wanted the ball. He is a bulldog."
Riginos is gaining confidence in his bullpen but still isn't ready to name guys to certain roles.
"Ruthie is a guy we want to throw in the most important part of the game," Riginos said. "That might come in the fifth inning like it was tonight. It might be later in the game. I don't know what you call that guy. It doesn't matter when it is. We have confidence in him."
Ruth entered the game with two on and one out in the fifth.
He struck out pinch hitter Coley Crank and got Adam Robinson to ground out to second base to end the inning.
"Warming up in the bullpen, I had all my pitches working," Ruth said. "Coming into the game in that situation I just told myself to buckle down. I wasn't going to let the game get out of control."
Ruth appeared in 28 games as a freshman, the second-most on the team. He has thrown in a team-high five contests this season.
Riginos was pleased with the way the Eagles bounced back after falling behind 3-0.
Winthrop scored two runs in the bottom of the first off a hit and three walks. Chase Crane delivered an RBI-single and Brett Thomas brought in Patrick Gamblin with a sacrifice fly.
The Eagles scored three more in the second inning. Michigan starter Tyler Mills failed to record an out before Wolverines' coach Rich Maloney went to his bullpen.
Winthrop's T.J. Olesczuk led off with a single. Tyler Cook was hit by a pitch. Cam Walters set down a sacrifice bunt in front of the mound that Miller fielded but threw wildly to first base for an error. Olesczuk scored on the play. Cook went to third and Walters to second. Adam Gliebe's RBI-single chased Mills.
Kevin Vangheluwe came on in relief for Michigan. He issued two walks - including a bases-loaded pass to Eddie Rohan - before getting Thomas and Matt Lobacz to strikeout to end the inning.
Michigan (2-10) tied the game at 5 in the sixth inning when Dennis walked and eventually scored on O'Neill's groundout.
O'Neill's uncle, Paul O'Neill, played in the major leagues for Cincinnati and the New York Yankees. The younger O'Neill swiped three bases on the night.
The Eagles took the lead in the eighth on Chas Crane's single. He was 3-for-5 with two RBIs.
Crane stole second and moved to third on a base hit by Eddie Rohan. Matt Pierpont's foul pop out down the first base line was enough to allow Crane to tag up and score from third base to give the Eagles the 8-5 lead.
Winthrop plays two games today. The Eagles take on Stony Brook at 2:30 p.m. and then at 6 p.m. play Michigan again.