EAST BOSTON — Winthrop starting pitcher Zack Mills put himself ahead of the game before he even took the mound in the opening inning on Thursday morning at East Boston Stadium.
The sophomore hit a two-run, inside-the-park home run to lift the Vikings to a 15-2 victory against East Boston that snapped a four-game losing streak.
“He hit a home run then went out to pitch; his feet weren’t even touching the ground when he went out there,” Winthrop coach Fred DeMarco said. “[It helps] when you’re a pitcher and you hit yourself a two-run home run before you even get out there.”
Mills (2-0) struck out seven in five innings and allowed one earned run. He went 2 for 4 at bat with 3 RBIs.
“It was a high pitch but I was lucky to get a piece of it,” Mills said of the home run that also knocked in senior first baseman Michael Paulson. “I got it over the left fielder’s head and I put my head down and kept running.
“It helped me because it gave me breathing room and gave us a lead in the first.”
Mills’ first victory of the season came after a relief appearance in a season-opening, 7-6 walk-off victory against Watertown. He pitched 2.1 innings against Watertown before Winthrop (2-4, 0-4 Northeast Conference) dropped four straight games.
“Oh man it’s been really tough,” DeMarco said of the losing streak. “We went through some really bad stints where we couldn’t pitch well or hit well.”
Freshman leftfielder Tyler Gillis also collected his own inside-the-park home run in the sixth inning that scored three runs. He finished the game 2 for 4. Danny Eruzione was 2 for 3 with an RBI.
East Boston (3-4, 2-0 Boston City League) scored its only runs of the game in the second and the fifth innings. First, senior Anthony Difeo (1 for 3) tripled to knock in sophomore Michael Theriault (2 for 4), who singled in the fifth to score freshman John Cinelli. Junior Manuel Martinez was also 1 for 3 on the day.
Sophomore pitcher Henry Conner (1-1) recorded the loss after striking out four batters and walking six in four innings. He gave up six runs, including two earned runs.
The Jets were also playing without two starters who were benched for missing practice. Those two players, along with two other starters, also sat out in a 10-6 loss to Chelsea earlier in the week for the same transgression.
“We’ve only played one game with our full lineup,” Eastie coach Phil Brangiforte said. “They need to come to practice and do what they need to do to play ball. I think we have a good team when we’re together. We just need to stay together.
“We couldn’t string anything together. We made a couple mistakes and the kids get down on themselves. They don’t realize if you get a hit in three out of 10 at bats you’re hitting .300. They strike out and they think it’s the end of the world. It’s not.”
Winthrop hosts Beverly at 4:30 p.m. on Monday and East Boston plays at Maimonides at 2 p.m. on Sunday before traveling to Madison Park at 3:30 p.m. on Monday.
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