After losing five straight games, Winthrop baseball was searching for an answer. The season hadn’t been going the way they had anticipated, and as the brunt of the Big South schedule approached, they needed a spark.
That spark appeared in a 3-2 win in 12 innings over visiting Radford on Friday night at The Winthrop Ballpark, but it came from an unlikely source.
Freshman Hunter Lipscomb got up to bat with bases loaded in the bottom of the inning, and rocketed a hit up the middle of the field, bringing home the winning run.
It was really a scenario that many, including the young outfielder, thought just appeared in dreams.
“It was something I’ve grown up always wanting to do and in high school I never had that kind of opportunity. To come in here as a freshman and get to do that; it’s an experience, that’s for sure.”
Radford got on the board with a solo shot from freshman Trevor Riggs in the top of the fourth that went across the left field fence, turning the tide of what was a slow first third of the ballgame.
Winthrop responded with a homer of their own from Kyle Edwards that also found a over the left field wall.
A throwing error nearly doomed the Eagles in the top of the sixth inning. With one out and runners on the corners, Radford’s Danny Hrbek hit a line out to shortstop. In a double play attempt, the throw to first missed the mark and brought home Colby Higgerson, giving the visitors the edge.
Winthrop was able to respond in the bottom of the ninth inning, starting with a Mitch Spires single that set up a sacrifice bunt followed by a wild pitch that not only moved Spires to third, but also put pinch hitter Jace Whitley on first. A sacrifice fly from leadoff man Tyler Asbill scored the tying run and sent the game into extras.
Winthrop got help on the mound from redshirt sophomore Zach Cook in the later innings. The righty struck out a season-high eight batters in nearly four innings and was credited with the win. Starter Sam Kmiec also proved to be a bright spot for the Eagles, going 7 and two-thirds innings and tallying up seven strikeouts.
For Radford, they were led on the mound by freshman Zack Ridgley who went eight innings and struck out six batters. The Highlanders also had help on offense in the form of leadoff hitter Chris Coia, who went 4-5 in the losing effort.
Certainly no one could have been happier to break the losing streak than Winthrop head coach Tom Riginos.
“The team just never quit,” he said regarding the win.
“We needed this win to break this skid. It was a team win. We grinded out some at-bats and put ourselves in a position to win the ballgame in the ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth. We got the leadoff guy on, we got bunts down, we just didn’t get some big hits in the ninth, tenth and eleventh but we finally got that big hit.”
He also credited the guys who aren’t regular starters on the team for stepping up.
“That’s why I think it was a total team win tonight, a total team win.”
The Eagles (17-17) and Highlanders (9-25) will play again on Saturday at 3 p.m. at The Winthrop Ballpark before closing out the series on Sunday at 2.
W: Cook (2-2). L: Ross (0-5). Top Hitters: Paulsen (WU): 3-5 Edwards (WU): 1-3, HR Coia (RU): 4-5