HOUSTON -- The Winthrop baseball team gave the ninth-ranked Rice Owls all they could handle, but it dropped a 10-6 decision Sunday afternoon at Reckling Park.
The Eagles led 6-1 going in the fifth inning, but Rice fought back to score nine runs in the next four frames to post the final score.
Sunday's result gives Winthrop its eighth straight loss and drops its overall record to 3-13, while Rice improves to 12-6 on the year.
The Eagle offense was anchored by shortstop Kevin Nolan and outfielder Billy Froehlich, as each went 2-for-4 at the plate.
Lefty Ryan Mullins started his second game of the year and worked four innings giving up nine hits, four runs (three earned) and one walk, while fanning five Owls. Josh McDonald was charged with the loss as he pitched 2 1-3 innings allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits, no walks and one strikeout.
"I thought Mullins threw very well and gave us a chance to win," said Winthrop coach Joe Hudak. "It's disappointing when you get a chance against a ranked team and can't finish the job. When you are up six to one, you should be able to win a ball game."
Lefty Cole St. Clair was the winning pitcher on Sunday as he relived starter Chris Kelley. Offensively, Jared Gayhart led the Rice batters as he grabbed three hits and three RBIs.
Rice opened the scoring in the first inning. Gayhart was given a one-out walk and advanced to third on a single. Aaron Luna then followed with a line-drive shot to Nolan, who couldn't hold on to the ball as he was charged with an error, which allowed Gayhart to score.
The Eagles exploded for six runs in the top of the fourth inning as they sent 10 batters to the plate to take the lead 6-1. The first batter up was Nolan, who reached on a fielding error by third baseman Diego Seastrunk. Nolan then advanced to second on a single by Froehlich and scored on a single by Rohan. Third baseman Bryn Henderson followed as he attempted a bunt to advance both runners a base with nobody out. The sacrifice hit rolled toward Seastrunk, who threw a rocket to the first-base fence, allowing Froehlich to score as Rohan moved all the way to third and Henderson reached first safely.
The scoring continued in the sixth as outfielder Tony Brunetti plated Rohan with a single, advancing Henderson to third. Outfielder Tyler McBride was next as he got an RBI with a sacrifice fly to score Henderson. The hitting kept going as designated hitter John Murrian moved Brunetti up a base with a single and a wild pitch allowed both runners to advance a base. Second baseman Aaron Bonomi followed with a ground ball reaching on a fielder's choice as Brunetti crossed the plate and Murrian moved to third. First baseman Eddie Tisdale drove in the last run of the inning as Murrian scored on a fielder's choice.
Rice got three runs back in the fifth inning to put the scoreboard at 6-4. Gayhart led off with a home run, then Adam Zornes hit a double, advanced to third on a single by Luna and scored on a single by Jordan Dodson. Luna then scored from second on a single by Rick Hague.
The turning point of the game was the six runs scored by the Owls as they sent 12 batters to the plate opening a 10-6 margin.
The Eagles and the Owls will close out the series at 7:30 p.m. Monday.