Penn-Winthrop Box Score (PDF)
ROCK HILL, S.C. - Winthrop was gifted an early lead in Sunday's contest against the Penn baseball team and made that lead hold up, shutting the Quakers out over the final seven innings and avoiding a sweep at the hands of the Red and Blue with a 5-2 win.
The Eagles struck first in the bottom of the first inning, taking its first lead of the weekend thanks to a lead-off double from Drew Hardee. Cody Dolan brought him home with a single to center to make it 1-0.
That didn't last long however, as Penn came right back with a pair of unearned runs in the top of the second. Austin Bossart's grounder to third took an in-between hop that Mark Lowrie couldn't field cleanly. Moments later, Bossart was dead-to-rights on a stolen base attempt but shortstop Kyle Edwards dropped the ball on the tag. Spencer Branigan then roped a single into shallow right field to knot the score at 1-1. Consecutive flyouts had Winthrop nearly out of the inning, but Connor Betbeze was able to battle back from a 0-2 count to dump a single into left field, and Mike Vilardo followed with a grounder up the middle to bring Branigan in from second base for a 2-1 Penn lead.
The critical inning came in the bottom of the second. A one-out error was followed by a base hit and a walk to load the bases for Winthrop. Cody Thomson was able to get Edwards to hit a slow roller toward second, but with a runner cutting into his line of sight Vilardo wasn't able to field the ball cleanly, bringing the tying run in and keeping the bags loaded. A walk to the next hitter gave the Eagles a 3-2 lead and spelled the end of the day for Thomson. Mitch Holtz got out of the jam in relief with a 5-4-3 double play.
Winthrop tacked on a run in the fourth inning and had one run in with two men on in the fifth inning before Penn turned its second double play of the game. A comebacker to Holtz on the mound made the Eagles' runner at third base juke towards home but ultimately stay on the bag, but the Winthrop trail runner on second was moving on contact. Holtz threw over to Branigan for the second out of the inning, and the man on third had no choice but to belatedly run home, where Bossart applied the tag after a short rundown.
Penn's best chance to get back in the game came in the sixth inning. Bossart and Branigan each reached on singles before Ryan Mincher hit a chopper toward Edwards at shortstop. Too deep in the hole to throw out Mincher, Edwards tried to throw out Bossart at third, but his slide got him to the bag a half-step ahead of the throw, loading the bases with no outs in the inning. Rick Brebner was up next and hit a sharp, sinking liner towards first base that was snared by Clay Altman. With no clear call made by the umpire as to whether the ball had hit the ground, Bossart raced home where he was tagged out. It was only after the fact that the crew converged and agreed on a double play, the first out coming off of Brebner's lineout. Suddenly with two down and no runs in, a fly out to center field ended the inning and the Quaker rally.
Though Jeff McGarry and Ronnie Glenn kept Winthrop off the board in the final two innings, Penn rarely threatened in its final three at-bats, leaving a man on first in the seventh and eighth, and a man on second in the ninth.
Branigan led the offense with a 3-for-4 day at the plate, driving in one run and scoring the other. Vilardo also had a three-hit game, going 3-for-5 and plating Branigan as part of Penn's two-run second inning. Defensively, Bossart kept Winthrop in check by throwing out all three attempted base stealers in the game.
The Quakers (4-5) return to the field on Wednesday, traveling to Towson for a 3 p.m. game at Schuerholz Park.