There haven’t been many good moments for the Winthrop baseball team.
But the good news is they’re starting to come a little closer together.
The Eagles won twice in the same week for the first time this season, beating Rider 4-0 Friday night at The Winthrop Ballpark.
“We were talking before the game, we hadn’t had a complete game this year, even when we had won,” Winthrop coach Tom Riginos said. “Now, it wasn’t perfect, but this was as close to a complete game as we’ve had. The pitching was good, the defense was good, we got some timely hits.
“So at least for a night, we were able to do this, the challenge is going to be to repeat this tomorrow.”
Before the Eagles (4-15) worry about their first win streak of the season (there was a loss Wednesday at The Citadel after Monday’s home win against Valparaiso), they should at least savor this one for a moment, because it was a clean performance all the way around.
Matt Pierpont (2-3) threw a complete-game four-hitter, striking out six and walking one, throwing 113 pitches. Riginos was watching him closely, and would have given him the hook if the last out hadn’t come when it did.
Of course, he also was expecting the junior right-hander to put up a fight if he tried to pull him.
“Oh, he’d have lobbied, he’d have glared at me,” Riginos said with a laugh.
That kind of competitiveness showed on the mound, as Pierpont worked his way through a night when he didn’t feel his best power stuff.
But the way Winthrop’s season has gone to this point, it’s become hard at times to expect good things barring perfect circumstances.
“We’ve been talking all year about keeping the pressure off, but when you have a record like we do, that’s hard,” Pierpont said. “We know we have the players to do it, but it’s a young team. We knew it would be a challenge with all these freshmen, but we have talent, and we knew we’d eventually come around.
“We just had to keep working while these guys got the hang of college baseball.”
It was the first complete game shutout for a Winthrop pitcher since May 1, 2010, when Matteo D’Angelo did it to Presbyterian.
Rider (5-10) got its first hit to lead the sixth, but the Broncs immediately grounded into a double play, the kind of efficient night the Eagles enjoyed.
The Eagles put three on the board for Pierpont in the third, breaking the seal with Matt Lobacz’s sacrifice fly, followed by Max Vogel’s RBI single. Justin Hopper came around to make it a 3-0 lead on a throwing error.
They tacked on another in the sixth, when Patrick Gamblin opened the inning by being hit by a pitch, and came around to score on another throwing error.