HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point Rockers used 14 hits to score 14 runs in a 14-0 win over the visiting Lancaster Barnstormers Wednesday night at Truist Point.
High Point’s Zander Wiel hit two home runs, an inside-the-park homer in the second inning and a traditional way over the fence round-tripper in the eighth to account for four RBI.
The Rockers set a franchise record for largest margin of victory while scoring the third-most runs in a game.
Justin Nicolino (1-0) was brilliant on the mound for the Rockers, tossing six innings and allowing just three hits while striking out eight and not issuing a walk. Lancaster starter Dominic DiSabatino (0-2) took the loss.
Every Rocker hitter had at least one hit. Wiel led all hitter with four RBI while catcher Chris Proctor drove in three, and Tyler Ladendorf and Johnny Field had two RBI each.
The Rockers took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Jerry Downs blasted a home run to right, his second of the year.
In the bottom of the second, Wiel led off with a fly ball to right. The ball hit the wall as rightfielder Mark Zagunis battled the sun. The ball rebounded back towards the infield as Wiel steamed around the bases for the first inside-the-park home run in Truist Point history, staking the Rockers to a 2-0 lead. With two outs in the second, Chris Proctor singled and back-to-back doubles by Jay Gonzalez and Field expanded High Point’s lead to 4-0.
“When I was rounding second, I thought I had an easy triple,” said Wiel about his inside-the-park homer. “But I saw Jamie waving me home and I said ’90 more feet. I’m going to be gassed but here I go.’”
High Point made it a 5-0 advantage in the fourth when Ben Aklinski was hit by a pitch leading off the frame. He moved to second on an infield ground out by Ladendorf then scored when Proctor lifted a Texas League double to left that spun into foul territory.
High Point tallied four times in the fifth with Ladendorf driving in two with a triple and Logan Morrison adding an RBI double. In the seventh, the Rockers scored twice more and then finished with three runs in the eighth. A single by Michael Russell and a walk to Morrison set the table for Wiel’s three-run blast to left.
“Out bats really woke up tonight,” said Rockers manager Jamie Keefe. “We were grinding out some runs early in the game then Zander really broke out. A true inside-the-park homer. I haven’t seen one of those in a while.
“Defensively, a couple of plays Jay Gonzalez made in the outfield saved us a couple of runs. Justin (Nicolino) was outstanding from the first pitch and he pitched all the way up to the 90-pitch mark and really threw the ball well. And the two kids each got to pitch and that was outstanding.”
The two kids Keefe referred to were a couple of rookies who made their professional debuts vs. Lancaster. Righthander Max McDowell pitched the eighth inning for the Rockers and retired the Barnstormers with just one walk. Gavin Weyman pitched a one-two-three inning in the ninth. The pair signed with the Rockers on Wednesday to fill a hole in the bullpen left by minor injuries to relievers Austin Glorius and Johnny Barbato. Weyman is a former college pitcher at Towson who now works with the High Point University baseball team. McDowell pitched at St. Michael’s College in Vermont and was noticed by the Rockers staff while playing with the barnstorming Black Sox during an exhibition game in High Point.
High Point and Lancaster will conclude their three-game set on Thursday at 6:35 at Truist Point. The Rockers will send righthander Cooper Casad (0-0, 1.50) to the mound to face Lancaster lefty Augie Sylk (0-1, 9.00).