HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point Rockers fell to the Gastonia Honey Hunters 7-3 on Saturday night in an exhibition baseball game at Truist Point.
Ryan Grotjohn had a two-run single in the sixth inning to account for two of the Rockers’ runs while High Point native and Winston-Salem State grad Randy Norris led off the ninth with a solo homer to right.
“It was good to knock the dust off and get back out here,” said Rockers’ manager Jamie Keefe.
MLB veteran Brandon Leibrandt started for High Point and walked the first two batters he faced, leading to a Zach Jarrett RBI single that give Gastonia a 1-0 lead. Jarret would add an RBI double in the third as the Honey Hunters went up 4-0 after three.
“Leibrandt had to grind today,” said Keefe. “His legs weren’t really underneath him. He couldn’t really get his fastball going but he and (catcher) Beau Taylor battled through it.”
Austin Ross threw a scoreless fourth inning for High Point while lefty Bryce Hensley kept the Honey Hunters off the board in the sixth. With Kyle Halbohn on the mound in the seventh, Gastonia received a two-run single from Atlantic League All-Star Carlos Franco to go ahead 6-3. Gabriel Castellanos allowed a run in the eighth while Jeremy Rhoades worked a three-up, three-down ninth for High Point.
The Rockers were held hitless by Gastonia starter Ian McKinney through his three innings of work and two more hitless innings from righty Zach Mort. Second baseman D.J. Burt blooped a single to right in the sixth for High Point’s first hit of the night and Grotjohn’s two-run single made it a 6-3 after six.
“The pitchers have been ahead of the hitters ever since we got here,” said Keefe.
“I didn’t see anything out there tonight that I didn’t like,” Keefe continued. “Defensively, we’re going to be fine. We’re more athletic than we have been. Our defense in the outfield will be fine and our infield defense is nice.”
The Rockers will play at Gastonia at 3:35 p.m. on Sunday afternoon in another exhibition game.
The Rockers open the Atlantic League season on Friday, April 28 at 6:35 p.m. at Truist Point against the Long Island Ducks. Tickets for the Opening Night contest are specially priced at four for $28 and are available at www.highpointrockers.com and through the Truist Point Box Office.