The Winthrop baseball team split its Big South twinbill with Gardner-Webb on Saturday, winning the opener 7-3 before falling in the nightcap 8-0 as the Eagles took two out of three games in the opening series of the conference slate.
Winthrop improved to 8-11 overall and 2-1 in the league while Gardner-Webb fell to 7-12 and 1-2.
Sophomore right-hander Joey Strain got the win as he improved to 3-2 by going 7 1/3 innings while allowing three runs on eight hits.
The Bulldogs erupted for all eight of their runs in the fourth inning as they touched up Winthrop starter Josh Strong for six runs on four hits before getting their final two runs off Eagle reliever Brock Goodling. The big hit in the inning was a two-run homer to left field by Brantley Smith that gave the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead. Alex Newman had a two-RBI single to increase the margin to 5-0.
Winthrop returns Tuesday at home against N.C. A&T at 6 p.m.
The Demon Deacons gained control early by capturing the doubles point, but the Eagles fought hard in the singles competition to earn the victory.
In the No. 1 singles position, Andressa Garcia edged Kimmy Guerin, 1-6, 6-4, 7-5, in a three set thriller, while Alice Garcia was victorious in another three set nail-biter, 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, against Fernandez in the No. 2 singles position. Cridland prevailed over Asch, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, in the No. 3 singles position, but Gardiner defeated Uzelac in the No. 4 singles position, 6-4, 6-4. In the No. 5 singles position, Gunaysu overpowered Zhang in straight sets, 7-5, 6-4, and Forman bested Monica Aguado, 6-3, 6-3, in the No. 6 singles position.
The Eagles improved to 6-4 and return to the courts Tuesday at UNC Greensboro.
The Eagles and Tigers will complete their three-game series on Sunday starting at 10 a.m. The game was moved up from its original start time of 1 p.m. due to the threat of inclement weather.
Winthrop struck first against Towson (12-8) in the bottom of the first as senior McKenzie Corn knocked her first home run of the season to the left field to put the Eagles up 2-0.
Winthrop’s bats continued to pound the ball in the bottom of the second as the Eagles batted around the order plus three more as Winthrop put up nine runs in the bottom of the second. The inning was highlighted by two home runs, a grand slam from Mel Andrea, her fourth of the season and a two-run shot from Maddie Antone, her third of the year.
The Eagles looked primed to close out the game after five innings with an 11-1 lead, but Towson fought back against relief pitcher Sutton Watson. The Tigers put up four runs on three hits and one Eagle error to get within 11-5 and extend the game. Winthrop didn’t allow another run and Antone added another RBI in the bottom of the fifth as the Eagles took the first game 12-5.
Sara Allen picked up the victory for the Eagles, pitching 6.1 innings. She allowed one run on three hits and struck out five. Antone finished 3-for-3 at the plate with three RBI. Andrea went 2-for-4 with four runs batted in. Corn knocked in three runs as well while going 3-for-3.
The second game of the afternoon was a pitcher’s duel. Towson got on the board in the top of the first with an unearned run. Winthrop threatened in the bottom of the third and fourth, each inning getting two runners on with one out but were unable to get anyone across home plate.
Towson put up two insurance runs in the top of the sixth on two hits. The Tigers threatened for more, but left two runners on base. Antone got the bottom of the seventh off to a good start for the Eagles, knocking her second homerun of the day and her fourth of the game to get Winthrop back within 3-1. The Eagles got one more runner on, but couldn’t score.
Bradlee Holeman took the loss for the Eagles, pitching 5.1 innings and giving up three runs on four hits as her record falls to 1-1. Zharne Glover and Alex White each recorded two hits for the Eagles while Antone had the sole RBI.
Winthrop was led by freshman Zach Seabolt who moved up nine spots in medal play on the final day of the tournament to finish 15th with a 1-over 217 (74-71-72).
As a team, the Eagles finished at 894 (301-293-300). Winthrop was tied for eighth place with Penn State following the first round Friday. The tournament was scheduled to be a three-day event, but due to rain in Sunday’s forecast, a decision was made to play 36 holes on Saturday.
Mercer claimed the team championship as it finished at 8-under 856 (282-279-295) to win the title by six shots over host Florida State and South Florida who tied for second at 862. The tournament medalist was South Florida’s Trey Valentine who finished at 6-under 210 to nose out Mercer’s Hans Reimers by a single shot.
Winthrop’s other performances were as follows: Taylor Dickson, tied for 33rd at 223 (74-72-77); Nick Eberhardt tied for 40th at 225 (79-74-72); Walt Todd tied for 53rd at 229 (74-76-79); Mitchell Schneider tied for 69th at 238 (80-78-80).
The Eagles will be back in action on March 28-30 in Greenville, at the Furman Intercollegiate.