HIGH POINT, N.C. – High Point’s Quincy Latimore blasted a three-run homer with two outs in the seventh inning to break a 4-4 tie and lift the Rockers to a 7-4 win over the Lancaster Barnstormers on Wednesday night at Truist Point.
Latimore’s homer helped High Point overcome an early 4-1 deficit and it was a measure of redemption for the 34-year-old outfielder who has been with the Rockers from their birth in 2019 but is coming off a knee injury that kept him out of action until this month. He had also struck out in each of his first three at-bats against Lancaster starter Dominic DiSabatino. But in the seventh, Latimore was facing reliever Brandyn Sittinger (L, 4-7).
“It looked like old times in the seventh but not in my first three at-bats,” said Latimore following the game. “But I came through when we needed it the most and that’s what counts.”
After this third strikeout, Latimore had sought the advice of hitting coach George Greer.
“What am I going to do?” Latimore asked the veteran coach. “George told me to shorten up (my stride), widen (my stance) and take a two-strike approach. I got (the count) to 2-0 and I chased a low pitch but the swing felt good, I wasn’t fooled by it. Then he came with a 2-1 fastball and I got all of it.”
Latimore’s homer broke a 4-4 tie and set the table for Rockers relievers Jameson McGrane, in the eighth, and Ryan Dull, in the ninth, to shut the door on the Barnstormers over the final two innings. The save was Dull’s 14th of the year.
“I knew he was down on himself,” said Rockers manager Jamie Keefe of Latimore. “He didn’t look like himself but I knew George would talk to him.”
Just prior to the momentous home run, Keefe called time to speak with Latimore along the third base line.
“I just told him to relax and get something good to hit,” said Keefe. “I told him ‘they’re not going to pitch around you.’ I can’t feel better for anybody more than I do for him. I’m pumped up for him.”
Much like Tuesday’s game, Lancaster came out swinging right from the very start. After Melvin Mercedes beat out an infield single to lead off the top of the first, Yeison Coca doubled to put runners on second and third. Andretty Cordero delivered a sac fly to left and Coca scored on a groundout by Ariel Sandoval for a 2-0 ‘Stormer lead.
The Barnstormers added a run in the third on a single by Mercedes and an RBI double from Cordero to put Lancaster up 3-0.
High Point cut into the lead in the fourth when Daikan Yoh walked and scored from first on a double in the gap by Ryan Grotjohn. The ‘Stormers make it a 4-1 game in the fifth when Mercedes singled, his third consecutive hit, and scored on Ariel Sandoval double.
The Rockers tied the game with three runs in the fifth. After Brian Parreira and Shed Long, Jr. started the frame with singles off Lancaster starter Dominic DiSabatino, D.J. Burt cleared the bases with a triple to right center and Ben Aklinski followed with a sac fly that brought Burt home to knot the game at 4-4.
Mitch Atkins started the game for High Point and went five innings after allowing seven hits and four runs but left with the game tied 4-4. Bryce Hensley (W, 6-1) pitched the sixth and seventh innings, allowing just one hit and earning his sixth win of the year.
Game three of the series is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. Thursday night at Truist Point. It will be Thirsty Thursday with drink specials in the ballpark. The game will be streamed live by FLO Baseball and also available on the Mixlr app.
NOTES: Latimore’s home run was his first of the season but the 49th of his Rockers career. He and Zander Wiel are tied for the franchise lead with 49 homers each… Ryan Dull’s 14th save of the year sets a club record for saves in a season. Dull already holds the club record with 27 career saves… The win for Bryce Hensley gave him the Rockers’ all-time lead in victory as it was the 14th of his career. Craig Stem has 13 career wins as a Rocker… Lancaster has blasted 10 doubles in the first two games of the series… Thursday’s pitching matchup will have the Rockers going with RHP Ryan Weiss (5-3, 4.61) against Lancaster righty Brent Teller (6-4, 7.34)