HIGH POINT, N.C. –High Point’s Justin Nicolino allowed just three hits over seven innings as the Rockers shutout out the Long Island Ducks 6-0 on Saturday night in front of a crowd of 2,374 at Truist Point.
Nicolino (W, 3-0) allowed a one out double to Brantley Bell in the first inning followed by a walk to Alejandro De Aza but left both runners stranded. Nicolino then set down the next 16 batters until Bell beat out an infield single with two outs in the sixth. After Bell stole second, De Aza laced a sharp single to right. Ben Aklinski picked the ball up and fired a strike to the plate where catcher Brian Parreira tagged the sliding Bell for the third out of the inning. It marked Aklinski’s seventh outfield assist of the season.
“Nicolino pitched beautifully,” said Rockers manager Jamie Keefe. “That’s one heckuva a lineup over there, they’ve got a lot of hitters with big league time. He controlled the zone from the first hitter and throughout his seven innings. He was loving it and having fun and he is really fun to play behind because he’s throwing strikes and getting ahead of hitters. Our defense was really outstanding tonight.”
Nicolino went seven innings and allowed three hits while walking one and striking out six. Jameson McGrane retired the Ducks in order in the eighth and Ryan Dull tossed a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
Long Island starter Joe Iorio (L, 3-6) retired Shed Long, Jr. on strikes to start the first but then gave up a single to D.J. Burt. Daikan Yoh grounded to Long Island third baseman Joe DeCarlo who mishandled the ball leaving runners at first and second. Aklinski then unloaded his 12th homer of the year to give the Rockers a 3-0 lead.
In the eighth, the Rockers tallied three more runs. A single by D.J. Burt and a walk to Yoh set the stage for a two-run double from Ryan Grotjohn. Parreira then brought Grotjohn around to score on a single for a 6-0 advantage.
Game three of the series is slated for a 4:05 p.m. first pitch on Sunday at Truist Point. The Rockers will celebrate the birthday of their mascot, HYPE. The game will be streamed live on Flo Baseball and also available on the Mixlr app.
NOTES: The Rockers’ shutout was their first since beating Charleston 16-0 on May 2… It was the first time the Ducks have been shutout since suffering a 4-0 defeat at Staten Island on May 14…Sunday’s starters will feature knuckleballer Mickey Jannis (8-3, 3.21 ERA) against Robert Stock (5-1, 4.08). In his last outing, Stock no-hit Southern Maryland 4-0 on July 18. It was just the sixth no-hitter in Atlantic League history. Both Jannis and Stock have previously pitched at the Major League level.