HIGH POINT, N.C. – For the second night in a row, the High Point Rockers dropped a heartbreaking one-run game to Southern Maryland. On Saturday night in front of 2,328 fans at Truist Point, the Blue Crabs claimed a 5-4 win from the Rockers.
High Point put the tying and go-ahead runners on base in the ninth inning with one out but Blue Crab reliever Endrys Briceno struck out Tyler Ladendorf and Ben Aklinski to preserve the Southern Maryland win.
The loss was High Point’s 10th straight to start the second half of the Atlantic League season.
The Rockers got on the board first when Michael Russell led off the second inning with a double. With two outs, Giovanny Alfonzo hit a routine ground ball up the middle and as Southern Maryland shortstop Michael Baca went to make the play, the ball hit second base and ricocheted into shallow left field, allowing Russell to score.
Joe DeLuca hit a solo homer leading off the third for Southern Maryland to tie the game at 1-1. The Blue Crabs added a pair of runs in the fourth on a single by Michael Wielansky, an RBI tiple from Zach Collier and a run-scoring ground out by David Harris to give SMD a 3-1 lead.
The Rockers jumped back in front with a three-run sixth inning. Walks to Aklinski and Zander Wiel allowed Quincy Latimore to drive in a run with a double. Russell was intentionally walked to load the bases and Chris Proctor’s infield out plated a run before Jay Gonzalez sliced a run-scoring single to left to give the Rockers at 4-3 lead.
High Point starter Liam O’Sullivan went six innings and allowed six hits and three runs while striking out two. He departed after the sixth with a 4-3 lead. Chasen Bradford (L, 2-3) came on and yielded a double to DeLuca and a two-run homer to Ryan Haug to put the Crabs back on top 5-4. Patrick Baker relieved SMD starter Alex Merithew in the sixth and pitched through the seventh to earn the win and improve to 3-1.
High Point went down in order in the seventh and eighth innings before rallying against Briceno in the ninth. After striking out Chris Proctor to open the frame, Gonzalez beat out an infield single and Briceno walked pinch-hitter Logan Morrison to put two aboard with just one out. But the two strikeouts quelled the High Point threat as Briceno earned his sixth save.
The Rockers and Blue Crabs put the finishing touches on this three-game series at Truist Point on Sunday with a 4:05 p.m. first pitch.