HIGH POINT, N.C. – Quincy Latimore hit a solo homer and a sacrifice fly to account for all of the High Point Rockers’ runs in a 2-1 win over the Lexington Legends on Friday night in front of 2,801 fans at Truist Point.
Latimore blasted a solo homer leading off the seventh inning to tie the game at 1-1. With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the eighth, Latimore lifted a long fly to right field that was caught near the wall by Phillip Ervin. Johnny Field was able to score from third but Ervin’s throw, relayed to the plate by Tillman Pugh, was in time to cut down Ben Aklinski who was trying to score from second.
The late fireworks were a direct contrast to the first six innings which was a classic pitcher’s duel between High Point starter Craig Stem and Lexington’s J.J. Hoover. Neither pitched allowed a run through the first six innings with Hoover yielding just one hit and Stem being touched for only two safeties.
That changed when Isaias Tejeda led off the top of the seventh with a solo homer to left to put the Legends up 1-0. The inning ended on a 6-4-3 double play, the third twin-killing of the night for High Point.
Latimore matched Tejeda’s feat by leading off the bottom of the seventh with a solo shot to right-center. Hoover was able to get through the rest of the inning with no further damage.
Stem set down the Legends in order in the eighth, striking out Manuel Geraldo and Boog Powell.
Tied at 1-1, Field led off the bottom of the eighth and Aklinski followed, both singling through the hole at shortstop. After a walk to Jerry Downs, the Legends brought in reliever Jalen Miller from the pen. He struck out Zander Wiel for the first out before Latimore’s sac fly resulted in a Rockers run and the final two outs of the inning.
“I got the exact same pitch (on both hits) and took them both the opposite way,” said Latimore.
“There’s nothing better than seeing Quincy rounding the bases with that big smile of his,” said Rockers manager Jamie Keefe. “We’ve been together a long time and we needed that tonight.
“The energy in here tonight was unbelievable,” said Keefe. “After an 11-hour bus ride (back from Thursday night’s game at Long Island), we couldn’t ask for more than what the fans gave us tonight.
“Stemmer threw the ball great,” continued Keefe. “The last 19 games have been really hard (3-16 record). But tonight we put the ball in play and kept the walks down and Stemmer did a great job. Lexington can really swing the bats and when (Stem) has his two-seam (fastball) moving, he can play with them.”
Stem (W, 1-2) struck out five over his eight innings of work, allowed just four hits and walked three. Hoover (L, 2-6) went seven innings and struck out eight with four walks while allowing five hits and both High Point runs. Ryan Dull (S, 2) pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the ninth with a pair of strikeouts to earn his second save of the year.
High Point is now 32-25 on the year while South Division-leading Gastonia was rained out at Southern Maryland on Friday and remains 38-17 with 11 games left in the first half.
High Point and Lexington will play the second game of their three-game series on Saturday t 6:35 p.m. at Truist Point.