Never underestimate the importance of some good batting music.
Eddie Rohan, out of the freshman purgatory where Winthrop's veterans chose the introductory music for the at-bats, got his two-day entrance of a silly children's song lifted after smashing his first collegiate home run on Sunday. He bartered the upperclassmen for his choice -- Korn's "Here to Stay."
Hard to argue with the results.
Rohan went 4-for-4 with three RBIs, two on his second home run, and led the hit parade as the Eagles demolished Gardner-Webb 17-5 on Monday in the final game of the Johnny Gill Memorial. A day after Winthrop (2-1) stranded nine in a five-hit, 4-3 loss to St. John's, the Eagles jumped on the Bulldogs (1-2) with four runs in the first inning on the way to 19 hits.
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"I don't even know what that song was," Rohan said, shaking his head at his teammates' choice. "I asked the upperclassmen to hook me up.
"Definitely didn't hurt."
The hitting, as it often is, was contagious. John Murrian also went 4-for-4, Aaron Bonomi had three hits and Louis Ullrich crushed The Winthrop Ballpark's first "Screen Ball," a two-run homer that clanged off the 85-foot wall in center field and dropped behind the fence.
Rohan, jamming to a better-suited tune, began the day with an RBI single, nuking the first pitch he saw into left field. He homered to right in the second inning, smacked another first-pitch single in the fourth and drilled a double in the left-center gap in the seventh. The Bulldogs never got him out.
"He's got a real short stroke and he's got some power," coach Joe Hudak said. "Going to be a great hitter and have a great career here for us. But he wasn't the only one. Had a lot of good things today."
Left-hander Billy Tinsley was one of them. Pitching for the first time since March 17 of last year, Tinsley recorded his first Winthrop win with six innings of two-run ball.
"Just trying to get through that first inning, get the jitters out," said Tinsley, who only appeared in three games last year before withdrawing from school due to family concerns. "Once you find the zone, once you're able to just start pounding it ... then the hitters that are going up there, they know you're going to throw strikes."
A finesse pitcher who relies on changing speeds and location rather than overpowering force, Tinsley made his first start and got his first out in two pitches. Spotted a quick 4-0 lead after the Eagles' half of the first inning, the senior labored through a 34-pitch second, giving up the Bulldogs' first two runs.
But when he finally got the third out and saw Rohan park his homer behind right field in the bottom half of the second, Tinsley regrouped. He retired the side in the third on four pitches and cruised through the rest, walking one and striking out five.
"Felt good, felt good," he said. "I just tried to get ahead early and try to throw a lot of strikes, get people swinging early."
"You're very happy for him," Hudak said, describing his feelings at watching Tinsley. "He's a kid you just can't help rooting for."
With the offense staking Tinsley to an insurmountable lead, Hudak sat the senior after 84 pitches. Italian hurler Matteo D'Angelo made his collegiate debut and vets Dane Yoder and Owen Reid closed it out while the offense continued to cook.
Shortstop Kevin Nolan kept up his hot weekend by collecting two more hits, raising his average to .615. Eddie Tisdale drove in his first runs of the season with a first-inning single, and the Eagles batted around in the six-run sixth inning.
Overall, a great day, especially after the St. John's loss. The Red Storm return to the yard at 4 p.m. today for a rematch, foreshadowing the teams' third matchup on Friday.
"It definitely picks us up," Rohan said. "It was a good game (Sunday) night but it definitely picks up our offense a little bit."
n NOTE: Dave Carbonell is expected to start on the mound today, making his Winthrop debut.