CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The High Point Rockers split a doubleheader with the Charleston Dirty Birds on Saturday at Appalachian Power Park. The Rockers shutout the ‘Birds 2-0 in the nightcap after Charleston took a 7-6 decision in the opener.
High Point won its 30th game of the season and improved to 30-22 on the year. With Gastonia (35-16) falling to Lexington on Saturday, the Rockers are 5.5 games out of first place in the Atlantic League South Division.
The Rockers took a 6-0 lead in the opening game. In the second inning, Zander Wiel doubled and scored on a single by Michael Martinez. Martinez moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and to third on a single by Tyler Ladendorf before scoring on a Mike Gulino sac fly.
In the third, Logan Morrison hit his fifth home run of the season, a solo shot to right, to put High Point ahead 3-0. Two batters later, Jerry Downs followed with his sixth homer of the year to extend the lead to 4-0.
Downs would hit his second homer of the game, and seventh of the season, with Ben Aklinski on board, to give High point a 6-0 advantage.
Charleston started to methodically cut into the lead. In the bottom of the fifth, High Point starting pitcher Ivan Pineyro allowed singles to Scott Burcham and Tyler Blaum before Scott Kelly was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Nick Heath’s sac fly scored one run and then Connor Justus singled home another run.
The Rockers acquired Pineyro in a trade with Sussex County of the Can-Am League. He went five innings in his first appearance as a rocker and left the game with a 6-2 lead.
In the sixth, Adam Choplick replaced Pineyro and allowed three consecutive singles to start the inning. Alfredo Gonzalez reached on an infield single, Engel Beltre singled to score Gonzalez and Scott Burcham followed with an RBI single.
Chasen Bradford came on to close the game in the seventh with the Rockers still holding on to a 6-4 lead. Yovan Gonzalez was hit by a pitch to start the inning, Alfredo Gonzalez singled and Beltre drew a walk to lad the bases. Charleston scored one on a Burcham 6-4-3 double play. But Tyler Blaum’s single scored Alfredo Gonzalez and then Corey Bird doubled to left center to score Blaum with the winning run for a 7-6 Charleston victory.
The nightcap was scoreless through six innings until Ben Aklinski drilled a pinch-hit homer leading off the top of the seventh. It was Aklinski’s ninth home run of the season and gave High Point a 1-0 lead. Logan Morrison then slashed a single to right and Tyler Ladendorf doubled to the wall in left, allowing Morrison to come around and score for a 2-0 lead.
Bryce Hensley (W, 1-1) pitched a scoreless sixth for the Rockers and struck out the side in the bottom to earn the win.
Austin Glorius went five innings and struck out a season-high seven batters. Bryce Hensley threw a scoreless sixth inning .
The Rockers will conclude the series with Charleston on Sunday at Appalachian Power Park with a 5:05 p.m. first pitch.