ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Ian Graham had four hits and two RBIs as UNC Asheville downed Winthrop 7-3 in the opening game of a three-game Big South Conference series at Greenwood Field Thursday afternoon.
The win by the Bulldogs (16-34, 4-17 BSC) snapped a five-game losing streak. Asheville starter Corey Randall earned the win by pitching six strong innings. He improved his record to 4-4 by scattering six hits, allowing three runs, striking out five and walking three. Asheville’s bullpen of Nick Schavone and Brian Connolly pitched the final three innings and did not give up a run.
Winthrop (20-33, 7-15 BSC) was led at the plate by two hits and an RBI from Chad Smith. Right-fielder Matt Lobacz hit a solo home run and also made a great catch in the first inning and robbed Tommy Houmard of a two-run homer. Eagle starter Matt Pierpont (4-5) was tagged with the loss. He allowed 14 hits, seven runs but just four were earned.
“We played well today,” commented Bulldog coach Tom Smith. “I like the way we hit the ball today against a good pitcher in Pierpont. Our guys keep playing hard and that’s all you can ask for.”
Lobacz homered in the second inning to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead. It was his fourth of the year.
The Bulldogs took the lead with three runs in the second inning. Trailing 1-0 with one out, Kyle Towles walked before going to third on Eli Miller’s double to left field. Phillip Treadway followed with an RBI-groundout to score Towles to know the game at 1-1.
Graham’s run-scoring single pushed the Bulldogs in front 2-1. McIntosh reached on an error at short that scored the final run of the inning for a 3-1 Asheville lead.
The home team countered with three mores run in the third to pad the margin to 6-1. Justin Woods led the inning off with his first home run of the year over the center-field wall for a 4-1 advantage. Two Winthrop errors plus RBI-singles from Treadway and Graham gave the Bulldogs a five-run lead.
The Eagles chipped away at the Asheville lead with single runs in the fourth and fifth innings. In the fourth with two outs, Clay Altman doubled. He then scored on two wild pitches from Randall to make it 6-2.
In the fifth, Chad Smith’s two-out run-scoring single plated Jace Whitley to cut the lead to 6-3.
But Randall was able to work out of the trouble in both innings to keep Asheville in front.
The Bulldogs got an important insurance run in the sixth when McIntosh doubled in Houmard.
Houmard added three hits for Asheville. Miller and McIntosh had two each for the home team.
UNC Asheville and Winthrop continue their three-game series Friday afternoon at Greenwood Field starting at 3 p.m. The teams will finish up the season Saturday at McCormick Field when the Bulldogs and Eagles are scheduled to play at Noon.