Aklinski belts another Grand Slam, Rockers win 6-3 in Gastonia
RECAP: High Point Rockers 6, Gastonia 3Tuesday, August 1, 2023
GASTONIA, N.C. – High Point’s Ben Aklinski hit a grand slam, his second in the last three games, to help the Rockers overcome a 2-0 deficit and go on to a 6-3 win over Gastonia on Tuesday night at CaroMont Health Park.
Gastonia’s David Washington touched High Point starting pitcher Jheyson Manzueta (W, 4-1) for a solo homer in the second to give the Honey Hunters an early 1-0 lead. That lead became 2-0 in the fifth as Manzueta yielded a double to Scott Manea, a single by Zach Jarrett and a walk to Braxton Davidson to load the bases. Manzueta then walked Washington to force in a run before retiring Pedro Gonzalez to exit the inning.
Gastonia starter Sal Romano pitched into the sixth when John Daly hit a one-out double and Romano issued a walk to D.J. Burt. Romano was lifted for Todd Van Steensel (L, 1-2) who walked Shed Long, Jr. to load the bases before Aklinski unloaded his grand slam. It was Aklinski’s 15th homer of the year and his third grand slam of the season.
High Point reliever Sam Selman set down the Honey Hunters in the sixth and Cam Bedrosian did the same in the seventh. Gastonia did score a run off Jameson McGrane in the eighth on a solo homer by Gonzalez.
With a one-run lead heading to the ninth, the Rockers added a pair of insurance runs for a 6-3 advantage on a Michael Martinez RBI single and added a fifth run when Martinez scored on a wild pitch by Gastonia’s Bryan Blanton.
Ryan Dull pitched the ninth and after allowing a lead-off single to Jarrett, he then fanned Davidson, Washington and Gonzalez to seal the High Point win. The save was Dull’s 16th save of the year in 16 save opportunities.
The Rockers improved to 54-30 on the year and tied their season-best mark at 24 games over .500. High Point (13-8 second half) increased its lead in the Atlantic League’s South Division to 1.5 games over Gastonia which is now 11-9.
High Point and Gastonia will meet again on Wednesday at 6:35 p.m. at CaroMont Health Park for game two of the three-game series. The game will be streamed live on FLO Baseball and also available on the Mixlr app.