HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point Rockers clinched a spot in the four-team Atlantic League playoffs with an 8-3 win over Gastonia in front of 3,352 fans at Truist Point on Thursday night. The win provided the Rockers with a Wild Card entry into the playoffs which begin next week.
The Rockers and Honey Hunters were scoreless through three as both starting pitchers, Mitch Atkins (W, 3-0) for High Point and lefty Ian McKinney (L, 7-4) for Gastonia, limited the opponent’s baserunners.
Gastonia broke the ice first with a pair of runs in the third inning. Emmanuel Tapia led off the inning with a double, moved to third on a single by Stuart Levy and scored on a single by Reece Hampton. Cole Freeman used a sacrifice bunt to move Levy to third and he scored on a groundout by Joseph Rosa.
The Rockers answered in the bottom of the fourth with a three-run outburst. McKinney walked Jerry Downs and Quincy Latimore to start the inning and then Zander Wiel blasted a three-run homer, his 31st of the year.
The Honey Hunters knotted the game in the fifth on a double by Levy who then moved to third on a ground out by Hampton, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Freeman.
The Rockers took the lead for good with three runs in fifth. Logan Moore looped a single to center and McKinney walked Michael Martinez to put two aboard. Quincy Latimore then hit the first pitch from McKinney for a towering homer to left, his 21st of the season, putting High Point in front 6-3.
The Rockers added single runs in the sixth and ninth with Giovanny Alfonzo collecting run scoring singles in both innings.
The Rockers improved to 70-59 overall and 31-32 in the second half of the South Division. The win clinched the Wild Card over the Kentucky Wild Health Genomes who are 64-63 with five games remaining and cannot reach the 70-win mark.
The Rockers will face Gastonia again next week in the Atlantic League’s South Division Championship Series. Games one and two are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, September 20 and 21 at Gastonia’s Caromont Health Park. The Rockers will host the Honey Hunters in game three at Truist Point on Friday, September 23. Games four and five, if necessary, will be played at Truist Point on Saturday and Sunday.
The Rockers finish the regular season this weekend with a three-game series at York on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.