LEXINGTON, Ky. – The High Point Rockers overcame an early 3-0 deficit, answering with a seven-run fifth inning before going on to take a 10-6 win from the Lexington Counter Clocks on Friday night at Counter Clocks Field.
Daikan Yoh banged out three hits and drove in a pair of runs for High Point while Zander Wiel and Ben Aklinski each had two hits.
Mitch Atkins made his first start of the season for the Rockers after a long recovery from an elbow injury. The 37-year-old is in his seventh season in the Atlantic League and has been playing professionally since 2004. Atkins allowed the Counter Clocks a single run in the second when Hector Roa homered to give Lexington an early lead. The ‘Clocks made it a 3-0 game in the fourth when Logan Brown reached first on a third strike wild pitch. Roa doubled to put runners on second and third before Brandt Broussard delivered a two-run ground-run double.
Lexington lefty Mike Kickham (L, 1-3) retired the first 10 Rockers he faced as the game moved into the fifth and the Rockers offense came to life with a seven-run outburst. High Point sent 12 men to the plate, starting with Beau Taylor who led off the inning with a homer. Yoh, Brian Parreira and Joe Johnson each stroked consecutive singles to load the bases. Michael Martinez plated two with a double and Ryan Grotjohn picked up an RBI with a single that scored Johnson. Wiel beat out an infield single that allowed Martinez to score before Aklinski hit his 10th homer of the year, a two-run shot that also scored Wiel and left the Rockers with a 7-3 edge.
Kentucky scored three times in the bottom of the fifth to cut High Point’s lead to one at 7-6 with Logan Brown’s two-run homer causing the most damage.
High Point struck for three more runs in the top of the seventh to jump out to a 10-6 lead. The Rockers touched Lexington reliever Jack Maynard for a single by Grotjohn, a double by Wiel and a walk to Aklinski to load the bases. A walk to Emmanuel Tapia scored one and then Yoh singled to center to bring home Wiel and Aklinski.
Atkins went 4.2 innings, one out shy of securing the win. Bryce Hensley (W, 4-1) bailed out Atkins in the fifth by striking out Roa for the final out and then kept the Counter Clocks off the scoreboard in the sixth while allowing one hit and striking out two before giving way to Jeremy Rhoades in the seventh. Rhoades surrendered a single hit during his one shutout inning and Austin Ross put the ‘Clocks down in order in the eighth and finished off Lexington with a scoreless ninth, recording four strikeouts over his two innings of work.
The win gives the Rockers a 4-2 mark in the second half of the Atlantic League season, a half-game behind 4-1 Gastonia. Both clubs won their 45th overall game of the season on Friday, the most of any ALPB club.
Game two of the series is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. on Saturday at Counter Clocks Field in Lexington. The game will be streamed live by FLO baseball and also available on the Mixlr app.