HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point Rockers scored four runs in the sixth inning to erase a 3-2 deficit and went on to defeat the Gastonia Honey Hunters 7-3 Sunday afternoon in front of a crowd of 2,491 at Truist Point.
High Point manager Jamie Keefe sent pinch-hitter J.R. DiSarcina to lead-off the sixth inning as a replacement for DH Quincy Latimore. Because Rockers’ starting pitcher Ivan Pineyro left the game before the sixth inning, the Rockers lost the pinch-hitter and, thus, Latimore. DiSarcina responded with a double to the wall in left-center. After Zander Wiel drew a walk, Ben Aklinski beat out a fielder’s choice at first with DiSarcina moving to third. Roldani Baldwin’s sac fly scored DiSarcina and tied the game at 3-3. Tyler Ladendorf followed with a walk before Michael Martinez singled to score Aklinski and put the Rockers ahead 4-3. Jay Gonzalez then sliced a double to left to score Ladendorf and Martinez and put High Point on top 6-3.
“J.R.’s double got us going in the sixth,” said Rockers manager Jamie Keefe.
The Rockers added an insurance run in the seventh when Wiel singled, stole second, and scored on a single by Aklinski.
Gastonia had taken an early 3-0 lead in the third inning on a double by Stuart Levy, an RBI single from Herlis Rodriguez and a two-run homer from Joseph Rosa. The Rockers got two of the runs back in the bottom of the third when Gonzalez walked and scored on Michael Russell’s homer to left. It was Russell’s sixth home run of the season.
The score remained 3-2 in favor of Gastonia until the Rockers’ four-run sixth.
Pineyro went four innings and allowed three runs on four hits. Five High Point relievers each went one inning and limited the Honey Hunters to just one hit the rest of the way. Cameron Cotter (W, 1-0) pitched the top of the sixth and set Gastonia down in order with one strikeout to earn his first professional win.
“The bullpen was great today, especially the young guys who did it for us,” said Keefe, noting that the relief efforts of Mickey Jannis, Austin Parsley, Bryce Hensley and Ryan Dull, along with Cotter, were they key to the Rockers’ win.
Gastonia starter Dakota Chalmers (L, 1-2) pitched 5.2 innings, yielding six hits and six runs while walking three and striking out four.
The Rockers took two out of three from Gastonia over the weekend and improved to 60-54 overall and 21-27 in the second half of the season. The Rockers started the day 1.5 games out of the Atlantic League’s Wild Card playoff berth but picked up a full game with the win and a Kentucky loss in the first game of their doubleheader with Lexington. Lancaster maintained the top spot in the Wild Card race but the Barnstormers also are leading the North Division second half standings and could qualify for the playoffs by winning the division.
“This was a great series,” said Keefe. “It’s just what we needed. Now we get right back after (Gastonia) on Tuesday.”
The Rockers will have a day off on Monday and then start a three-game series at Gastonia at 6:15 p.m. at Caromont Health Park.