WALDORF, Md. – High Point’s John Nogowski blasted his seventh home run of the year, in the top of the ninth inning, to break a 3-3 tie and propel the Rockers to a 4-3 win at Southern Maryland on Tuesday night at Regency Furniture Stadium. The win leaves the Rockers with the best record in the Atlantic League at 14-3 while Southern Maryland falls to 11-5.
Ryan Dull earned his fourth save of the year by setting the Blue Crabs down in order in the ninth with a pair of strikeouts. The win marked the 995th of Rockers’ manager Jamie Keefe career as he approaches his 1,000th all-time victory.
The Rockers took an early 1-0 lead when D.J. Burt led off the game with a single and then stole second before Ben Aklinski doubled to left to give High Point the early advantage. That lead increased to 2-0 in the top of the third when Burt homered to left, his second of the year.
The Blue Crabs began to claw back, scoring a single run in the bottom of the third when Felix Aberouette and Michael Wielansky each doubled with Aberouette scoring to pull So. Maryland to within one at 2-1. So. Maryland then took a 3-2 lead in the sixth when Michael Baca singled with the bases loaded to score two with the go-ahead run cut down at the plate behind a throw from Rocker leftfielder John Daly and a relay from shortstop Ryan Grotjohn to catcher Beau Taylor. Daly then would provide offensive heroics as he hit his first homer as a Rocker with one out in the seventh to tie the game again at 3-3.
The score remained knotted at 3-3 until Nogowski hit his solo homer to left with one out. The homer gave reliever A.J. Cole (W, 1-1) the win after he recorded the final two outs of the eighth inning. James Dykstra (L, 1-1) took the loss after allowing a walk and Nogowski’s homer in the ninth.
Nogowski finished the night with three hits including a double while Taylor joined Burt with two hits apiece. Baca and teammate K.C. Hobson led So. Maryland with two hits each.
High Point and Southern Maryland will play game two of this three game series on Wednesday at 6:35 p.m. at Regency Furniture Stadium. The Rockers will send righty Neil Uskali (0-0, 0.00) out for his second start of the season. Southern Maryland will counter with the Atlantic League’s all-time win leader and three-time defending ALPB Pitcher of the Year in Daryl Thompson (2-0, 5.03). Thompson has 93 career wins and is the Atlantic League’s all-time leader in games started and strikeouts.