HIGH POINT, N.C. – Ben Aklinski lined a base hit to the wall in centerfield with one out in the bottom of the ninth to provide the High Point Rockers with a 3-2 walk-off win over the Staten Island FerryHawks in front of a crowd of 2,319 at Truist Point.
Aklinski’s long single brought home Mike Gulino who had walked to lead off the bottom of the ninth with the game tied at 2-2.
“That game was a battle,” said Rockers manager Jamie Keefe. “That ball (Aklinski hit) was smoked. As a team, we’re just having a lot of fun right now.”
The game was tied at two going into the bottom of the ninth when the FerryHawks tapped Joe Kuzie to start the inning. After the walk to Gulino, Giovanny Alfonzo flew out to right before Johnny Field drew a four-pitch walk to put runners on first and second. Aklinski fouled off six pitches during the 10-pitch at-bat before ending the game with his shot to the outfield.
After the Rockers scored twice in the first, the game turned into a pitcher’s duel between Staten Island starter Julio Teheran and Rockers starter Jheyson Manzueta. Both pitchers commanded the plate. Teheran allowed just six hits over his six innings and struck out eight Rockers. Manzueta scattered seven hits and struck out four in his seven innings of work.
The Rockers took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. With two outs, Logan Morrison drew a walk and moved to second on a single by Quincy Latimore. Zander Wiel then tripled to right-center, scoring Morrison and Latimore for the Rockers’ first two runs of the game.
The FerryHawks tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the seventh. Yunior Santana reached base on a fielder’s choice before John Nester homered to left-center.
“Teheran made only two mistakes all night and we were able to take advantage of them,” said Keefe. “Other than that, he pitched his game. Jheyson made only one mistake and you don’t leave a fastball to Nester over the plate.”
High Point and Staten Island will play game two of the three-game series on Saturday at 6:35 p.m. at Truist Point.