GASTONIA, N.C. – Quincy Latimore hit a seventh inning grand slam in the nightcap and allowed the High Point Rockers to salvage a split of a doubleheader with Gastonia on Wednesday night at Caromont Health Park. The Rockers dropped the opening game 2-0 before rebounding with an 8-7 win in eight innings in the nightcap.
The Rockers had entered the seventh (and final inning) of the second game trailing the Honey Hunters 5-1 before erupting for six runs to take a 7-5 lead. The key blow was Latimore’s grand slam, his second of the season, that brought the Rockers from a 5-3 deficit to a 7-5 lead.
The critical seventh inning started when, with one out, Tyler Ladendorf and Michael Martinez singled before Michael Russell singled to center to score Ladendorf and make it a 5-2 game. Ben Aklinski then hit a chopper to third and the throw to second was dropped by second baseman Joseph Rosa, allowing Martinez to score and make it a 5-3 game. Jerry Downs then singled to load the bases and set the stage for Latimore’s grand slam to left center and put the Rockers up 7-5.
The lead was short-lived as the Honey Hunters tied the game in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings. Ryan Dull (W, 4-1) came on to work the bottom of the seventh and allowed singles to Jake Skole and Cole Freeman before Herlis Rodriguez flew out to right with Skole moving to third. Jack Reinheimer then delivered an RBI single to score Skole to make it a 7-6 Rocker lead. Rosa’s bloop single to center then scored Reinheimer to knot the game at 7-7.
In the eighth, Russell chopped an infield single to score Joe Johnson and give the Rockers an 8-7 lead. Tyler Higgins then set the Honey Hunters down in order to preserve the win and earn his second save of the year.
The Honey Hunters started the nightcap by striking for four runs in the bottom of the first off starter Neil Uskali and held the lead until the seventh inning. Uskali walked the first two hitters in the Gastonia line-up then hit Zach Jarrett with a pitch to load the bases. Luis Roman then drove in three runs with a triple and scored on a sac fly by Luis Castro.
Logan Morrison cut into the lead with a solo homer leading off the second for the Rockers to make it a 4-1 game. Gastonia extended the lead to 5-1 in the third on doubles by Jarrett and Castro with Castro claiming the RBI.
In game one, Gastonia lefty John Anderson (W, 12-4) handcuffed the Rockers, holding High Point to just five hits while striking out five in a 2-0 Honey Hunter win. Aklinski and Downs each managed a pair of hits for the Rockers.
Scoreless through three innings, Gastonia got on the board in the fourth when Freeman and Emmanuel Tapia each singled before Castro singled to right to score Freeman. In the sixth, it was another single by Freeman and a double by Tapia that led to Alex Holderbach’s sac fly to score Freeman and put Gastonia ahead 2-0.
Craig Stem (L, 5-6) threw a complete game for the Rockers, yielding eight hits while striking out one.
With the split, the Rockers now stand at 61-55 on the season and 22-28 in the second half of the Atlantic League season. With Kentucky losing to Lexington earlier in the day, High Point takes a 1.5-game lead over the Genomes in the Wild Card race. Gastonia, the South Division first half champion, continues to lead the second half race with an eight-game lead over Lexington.
High Point and Gastonia will conclude the three-game series on Thursday at 6:15 at Caromont Health Park with the Rockers sending Mitch Atkins to the mound to face Zack Godley.