Eagles slam door on Coastal

CONWAY -- Matteo D’Angelo slammed the door on No. 24 Coastal Carolina with 3 1-3 innings of two-hit relief on Sunday, helping clinch an 8-1 Winthrop win over the Chanticleers and avoiding a series sweep.

“It was obviously a big win for us,“ Winthrop coach Joe Hudak said. “You don’t want to get swept on the road. We’ve played at VMI and at Coastal and we’re coming back 3-3, which isn’t bad, and I thought we played well in all the games.”

Coastal (24-7, 4-2 Big South Conference) took the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader 5-1 but Winthrop found the cure in Game 2, knocking out Nick McCully (4-2) in the fifth inning and touching reliever Cody Wheeler for three runs. With a 5-0 lead and starter Ryan Mullins (3-0) tiring, D’Angelo entered the game in the sixth, got Tyler Bortnick to hit a line-drive out right to shortstop Kevin Nolan and was on his way to his second save.

D’Angelo gave up a single to Evan Noell and a double to Fort Mill native Tommy Baldridge, but was otherwise perfect. He struck out five and didn’t walk anyone, punctuating the save by whiffing his last two batters.

The Eagles (12-19, 3-3) salvaged a win from the series and remained tied with Liberty for fourth place in the Big South. Coastal is in second behind VMI.

Winthrop outhit Coastal 23-16 during the series but five of the Chants’ hits were homers. The only game in which Coastal didn’t go yard was the last.

The Eagles got started right away in Game 2 on Sunday, notching two second-inning runs after Billy Froehlich led off the inning with a walk. Bryn Henderson sacrificed Froehlich to second and John Murrian drove him home with a single to left.

Eddie Rohan launched an RBI double off the left-field wall to score Murrian and the Eagles continued rapping the Chants’ staff. Winthrop had runners in every inning but the eighth and scored three more in the sixth, when two wild pitches scored two runs and Murrian drove in Froehlich with another single.

Another wild pitch scored a ninth-inning run and pinch-runner Bryan Bogue scored from second after Aaron Bonomi’s soft hit to first. The Eagles added three insurance runs in the frame and D’Angelo mowed down the side to finish it.

In Game 1, starter Hamilton Bennett (0-7) again ran into his hard-luck theme of the season. The freshman Fort Mill product only gave up three hits, but all were over the fence.

Adam Rice, Jose Iglesias and Rico Noel each hit homers, the Chants’ only hits of the game, to hand Bennett another loss. The southpaw struck out five in seven innings but two of his three walks came before Iglesias’ round-tripper, giving Winthrop a 5-0 deficit by the sixth inning.

“Hamilton pitched a great ballgame,” Hudak said. “They didn’t leave anybody on base. It was probably the first time I’ve seen a team not leaving anybody on base.”

The Eagles couldn’t solve Coastal’s Joey Haug (4-0), who tossed a gem in his first career start. Haug fed Winthrop pitches with plenty of movement and the Eagles couldn’t catch up, only notching four hits and striking out seven times.

Tony Brunetti had two of those hits and got a third in the ninth, when Winthrop began to rally against reliever Matt Rein. Froehlich led off by getting hit with a pitch and moved to second on Rohan’s single to short. Brunetti advanced each runner with a single to center.

Coastal coach Gary Gilmore had seen enough and summoned closer Pete Andrelczyk, who saved the first game of the series and also finished Game 2 on Sunday. The redshirt junior got a double-play ball from Murrian, although a run scored, and caught Bonomi’s dribbler to the mound before throwing to first for the game-ender.

Winthrop plays at Georgia 5 p.m. on Tuesday. The SEC-leading Bulldogs swept Clemson in a two-game set last week and did the same to No. 9 South Carolina in a weekend three-game set that ended on Sunday.