HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point Rockers used home runs from Michael Russell and Ryan Grotjohn to move back into first place in the Atlantic League’s South Division by defeating Frederick 6-3 on Wednesday night at Truist Point. The Rockers were able to capitalize on Gastonia’s 10-9 loss to Southern Maryland earlier Wednesday afternoon.
High Point is now 29-13 on the year and hold a half-game lead over second place Gastonia (28-13).
Kyle Barraclough (W, 1-0), who joined the Rockers in mid-May and has been used primarily as a reliever, made his second start of the season and allowed just a single run over his five innings while allowing three hits and two walks as he recorded a pair of strikeouts.
“It looked like a second start,” said Rockers manager Jamie Keefe of Barraclough. “(The ball) was coming out nice. He kept them off balance. They hit a couple of balls that found holes but it was a pretty good five innings on his part.”
Frederick jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the third when Luke Becker doubled with two outs and scored on an RBI single from Starlin Castro.
The Rockers tallied five times in the third inning as John Daly started the frame with an infield single and moved to second on a grounder to first by Joe Johnson. Shed Long, Jr. then drove a single up the middle, his second of three hits on the night, and Daly scored easily from second. After Frederick starter Elih Villanueva (L, 1-5) walked Michael Russell, Ben Aklinski plated Long, Jr. with a single. Grotjohn followed with a three-run homer, his fifth round-tripper of the year, and the Rockers led 5-0 after three innings.
A solo homer from Michael Russell in the fifth, his fifth of the year, gave the Rockers a 6-1 lead.
Jeremy Rhoades, Taylor Guerrieri and Cam Bedrosian each tossed scoreless innings out of the bullpen, combining to allow just one hit and one walk while striking out six. Frederick did touch closer Ryan Dull for a pair of runs in the ninth to account for the 6-3 final.
“Rhoadsy was outstanding, Cam threw the ball really well and Guerrieri is throwing more like himself,” said Keefe. “When he needs to make a pitch, he makes it. At the end of the day, it was pitching and defense. We certainly don’t have the offensive firepower we had but we put a team out there that played really good defense. Zander (Wiel) was fantastic at first base.” Wiel, who has primarily played in the outfield and served as the DH this season, was playing just his third game of the year at first base.
“The big factor in the game was Benny’s (Aklinski) RBI right before the homer,” said Keefe. “He had to grind through that at-bat. He got an off-speed pitch and he was able to send it over the second baseman’s head and he stayed right through it and got it out there.”
High Point and Frederick will conclude the series on Thursday at 6:35 p.m. at Truist Point. It will be Thirsty Thursday with drink specials throughout the ballpark. The game will be available on FloBaseball.com and also on the Mixlr app.