Winthrop's bats silenced against Wagner

Winthrop's Bryn Henderson beats the tag at home by Wagner catcher Chris Drechsel.
Winthrop's Bryn Henderson beats the tag at home by Wagner catcher Chris Drechsel.

The meeting dragged on. And on.

Only the players and coaches knew what was being said, but the others gathered on the field could probably guess.

"I asked them how we are 6-14 coming into today and how we could not show up, how we could have no intensity in the ballgame," coach Joe Hudak said, quietly frustrated after Winthrop lost to Wagner 5-2 on Saturday. "How we could score two runs and get six hits in this ballgame today. We got beat today with an 82-85 mph fastball.

"We deserved to lose this game as a team."

It was a head-scratcher all around. The Eagles (6-15) were topped by a good pitching performance, but nothing like the ones they've seen lately. Their bats, after scoring 41 runs in their last three games, were silenced. Starter Hamilton Bennett (0-5) struck out six and allowed one earned run in 8 1-3 innings, the longest outing of any Eagle this year, yet was still left searching for his first collegiate win.

No zip, no fire, no win.


"You score two runs and get six hits in a game like this off of a pitcher ... you know, he's not from Rice," Hudak said. "He's not from North Carolina. Again, that's no disrespect, because he shoved it up us today.

"No way in the world we should get two runs on six hits today."

The Seahawks' Jack Rice (2-0) baffled the Eagles by pumping off-speed and changeups through eight innings and then turned it over to Andrew Huebner for the save. The result was the same -- the majority of Winthrop's batters trudged back to the dugout or waited in the infield for their caps and gloves after yet another popup or first-pitch grounder right to the shortstop.

And as it has in the other close losses this year, one tiny mistake turned into the only inning the opponent needed.

The Eagles notched their first run with the classic get 'em on, get 'em over, get 'em in philosophy, Bryn Henderson leading off with a single and getting sacrificed to second. Henderson stole third and scored on a wild pitch for a first-inning 1-0 lead.

That was enough until the third, Bennett chucking BBs from the mound and retiring his first six batters. Kevin Payne led off the third with a single but Bennett struck out Brian Martutartus, bringing up nine-hole hitter Jared Gruccio.

Gruccio tapped a tailor-made groundout to second base, which Sean Sullivan easily gloved. He turned to throw to Eddie Tisdale at first and inexplicably sailed the 15-foot toss into the dugout.

With that out, the Seahawks (7-5) would have had a man on second with two outs. Instead, they had runners on second and third with one out, and made it hurt immediately after.

One of Bennett's next offerings was roped into center by Damian Csakai for two runs. The doors wide open, Wagner added two more runs before the Eagles recovered.

Staring at a four-spot on the board, it was disappointing but doable. There were still seven innings to play.

Not that it mattered.

Winthrop got three hits through the seventh and stranded three runners over the last two frames as Rice continued boring holes in the bats. Although Bennett only allowed two runners for the rest of his stay -- and one reached on an error -- the Eagles couldn't take advantage.

A wild pitch from reliever Mike Ritson scored Wagner's last run and the Eagles couldn't get John Murrian around after a ninth-inning walk. Aaron Bonomi was caught looking and the game was over.

There were a few cranes needed to pick up some of the Eagles' expressions.

"Tends to happen that way; everything comes back to haunt you," said an ashen Sullivan. "I make a bad throw, then Hamilton gives up the only two hits he gives up all ballgame. I make a throw, that doesn't happen."

Ever since a five-run first led to a 9-2 loss to Southern Cal on March 8, Winthrop has kept running itself into the big inning. After not allowing four or more runs in a single frame all season before that game, the Eagles have done it eight times since.

With that "4" mocking them from the scoreboard on Saturday, the game ended the same as the others.


"We're disappointed in ourselves. Obviously we're not playing our hardest and it's showing on the field," Sullivan said. "We keep doing that, we're going to keep losing.

"People didn't realize you can't come out here and just expect to win. But I got a feeling it's going to change (today)."

The series continues at 3 p.m. today. Senior Ryan Mullins (0-0, 4.35 ERA) is scheduled to start.