Eagles open Big South play with rout of VMI

LEXINGTON, Va. -- Winthrop opened its Big South Conference season with a bang on Friday, mashing VMI 11-3 behind a stellar showing from pitcher Ryan Schwartz and a three-run home run from Billy Froehlich.

The Eagles (10-15, 1-0 Big South) have won seven of eight and never trailed against the Keydets (9-14, 3-1). Winthrop was on top 7-0 in the sixth before VMI regrouped.

"We played extremely well tonight," coach Joe Hudak said. "Every phase of the game was clicking."

Shortstop Kevin Nolan extended his hitting streak to eight games with three hits and Froehlich was the big bopper, collecting four RBIs. Catcher John Murrian also returned from an injury absence and drove in the Eagles' first run.

Schwartz (3-2) hummed along with two runs on nine hits, striking out two in 6 1-3 innings. Freshman Matteo D'Angelo and Mike Ritson finished the game.

No pitcher walked a batter and Winthrop managed to solve VMI's Trey Barham early. Murrian knocked in the first run and Froehlich hit a fielder's choice to score Eddie Tisdale in the second.

Winthrop scored three runs in the fifth when Froehlich teed off on Barham, after he'd tried to lay down two bunts. The signal came off and Froehlich made it count.

"It was a bomb," Hudak said. "I think I can forgive him for not getting the bunt down."

VMI scored single runs in the sixth and seventh but the Eagles came back with four more tallies. Tisdale scored on a wild pitch and Bryn Henderson crossed the plate on Eddie Rohan's single.

The teams play again at 4 p.m. today. Freshman Hamilton Bennett (0-5) is scheduled to start.

• KENTUCKY 15, SOUTH CAROLINA 3 -- In Columbia, Kentucky homered five times and scored 12 runs in the first four innings.

The Wildcats (22-2) struck early with six runs in the first inning, extending its lead on a grand slam home run from Chris Wade.

Kentucky would continue to put runs on the board with two in the second inning, two in the third inning and two in the fourth.

Wildcat pitcher Chris Rusin (4-1) worked just more than eight innings, allowing three runs on nine hits to pick up the victory.

South Carolina's Mike Cisco (4-1) suffered his first loss of the year, allowing 12 runs on 12 hits in three-plus innings.

Whit Merrifield and Justin Smoak had two hits apiece to lead the Gamecocks (16-7).