JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Sophomore Josh Baker (Sussex, Wis.) proved more than up to the task in his first start of the year, but a late rally by Winthrop gave the Eagles a 4-1 win over Jacksonville on Friday night at Sessions Stadium.
Making the first weekend start of his career, Baker tossed seven shutout innings allowing three hits with two walks and two strikeouts striking on 81 pitches. The lefty has not allowed a run now in 14 innings pitched this season.
“Josh has really made a turn and is probably our most improved pitcher since the fall,” said Head Coach Tim Montez. “He came in as a two-way guy last year and now he’s concentrating full time on pitching. Tonight he filled up the zone and had great composure on the mound. When he starts getting in mid-season form you'll probably see him finish that game, but it's still early so we want to make sure that we are being smart.”
While Baker was mastering the Eagles on the mound for seven innings, the Dolphins offense was also held in check by Winthrop ace Sam Kmiec. Kmiec allowed just one hit in his first 6 2/3 innings before Braddock Rowe (Jacksonville, Fla.) lined a two-out double for his second hit of the night. Rowe’s double sparked a rally as Michael Babb (Jacksonville, Fla.) followed with a sharply hit single to right.
Freshman Khalil Searcy (Jacksonville, Fla.) then brought Rowe home from third when he bounced the first pitch he saw through the left side for a RBI base hit.
The 1-0 lead would last long however as the Eagles attacked the Dolphins bullpen. Winthrop reached the Jacksonville bullpen for four runs on four hits in the top of the eighth to secure the 4-1 victory.
“Tonight it came down to us being able to find a way to manufacture runs,” added Montez. “These guys just have to stay the course. Their effort is there and they are doing everything that we ask of them which is all that you can ask as a coach. A loss like this doesn’t make things any easier, but if you can stay strong pitching and defense wise when it does turn offensively it's going to turn big.”
The series continues on Saturday with a 2:00 pm start.