Winthrop senior Tyler Cook took a step toward breaking out of his batting slump with a go-ahead double in the eighth inning to propel the Eagles to a 2-1 win over VMI at The Winthrop Ballpark on Friday.
Cook, a .361 hitter a year ago in his first season with the Eagles, entered Friday's Big South Conference opener with a .135 average. He came through against VMI's closer Michael Devine.
Winthrop tied the game in the eighth when Chas Crane scored from third base on VMI's third wild pitch of the inning. After a Brett Thomas fly out, Matt Lobacz walked to send Eddie Rohan to second base setting the stage for Cook.
"You could tell in his eyes he was going to do it," Winthrop coach Tom Riginos said. "I think that was a huge hit for him; just what he needed."
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Cook served Devine's first offering down the third base line. VMI third baseman Chase Worthington was able to slow the liner down, but not enough to keep Rohan from scoring the go-ahead run as Cook trotted in with a stand-up double.
Devine, now 0-2, is on the National Collegiate Baseball Writers of America Stopper of the Year Watch List. He came into the game with a 1.40 ERA and four saves. He entered the game with one on and no outs as VMI clung to a 1-0 lead.
"I was looking for a fastball out off the plate where I could do something with it," Cook said. "That's exactly what I got."
Cook said he has been hitting the ball well this week; just right at people. When asked if the game-winning hit might help ignite his hitting he said, "It won't take much."
Winthrop improved to 8-8 overall and 1-0 in the Big South. VMI is 9-9-1 and 0-1. The same teams play at 3 p.m. today at The Winthrop Ballpark.
The Eagles loaded the bases twice in the first two innings but came up empty against Keydets' starter Cody Cowgill. Cowgill threw 6 1-3 innings and blanked the Eagles on four hits and two walks.
Tyler Mizenko started the game for Winthrop. He struck out seven in seven innings of work.
Mizenko was hit with a line drive in the top of the fifth inning off the bat of VMI's Rob Dickinson. Mizenko was able to throw out Dickinson for the second out of the inning. He then sat on the ground in front of the pitcher's mound to assess his injury.
Mizenko said after the game he was a little sore and admitted that he used a heating pad in the locker room between innings to keep his leg loose.
Eric Ruth (2-0) pitched the final two innings to get the win for Winthrop.