GASTONIA, N.C. – The High Point Rockers closed out the first half of the Atlantic League season with an 8-1 win over South Division first half champion Gastonia on Monday night at CaroMont Health Park. Jay Gonzalez posted his first five-RBI night game as a Rocker to lead the 13-hit attack.
The Rockers finished second in the South Division with a 39-27 record. Gastonia claimed the first half at 44-21. The win was High Point’s first over Gastonia this season after having lost the first six meetings.
High Point shortstop Giovanny Alfonzo set a milestone on Monday night. With a sixth inning single, Alfonzo surpassed Stephen Cardullo for the most basehits in Rockers history. The single was Alfonzo’s 231st basehit as a Rocker.
The Rockers started Liam O’Sullivan, an Atlantic League veteran who signed with the Rockers on Monday. O’Sullivan went four shutout innings, allowed just three hits and did not yield a walk while striking out one. Gastonia starter Jerry Keel sailed through the first two innings but walked High Point catcher Dakota Mulcay leading off the third. Mulcay moved to second on a ground out by Giovanny Alfonzo and took third on a wild pitch by Keel before scoring on a groundout by Jay Gonzalez.
The Rockers extended their lead to 4-0 by scoring three times in the top of the fourth. Logan Morrison started the rally by drawing a walk from Keel and moving to second when Quincy Latimore’s ground ball to third was misplayed by Luis Roman. Morrison and Latimore then executed a double steal before Tyler Ladendorf drew a walk to load the bases. Adam Taylor’s fly ball to center scored Morrison before Mulcay lined a single to center to score Latimore. Jay Gonzalez then singled home Ladendorf.
After a scoreless fifth, the Rockers added three more runs in the sixth to take a 7-0 lead. Mulcay singled with one out and Gastonia relieved Keel with Ezequiel Zabaleta. Alfonzo greeted Zabaleta with a single before Gonzalez then hit a three-run homer to center, his first home run of the season.
John Hayes took over for O’Sullivan to start the fifth and threw two hitless innings before Nathan Bates relieved to start the seventh. The Honey Hunters’ Jake Skole doubled and scored on a pair of ground ball outs to break-up the shutout. The Rockers added their final run in the ninth when Latimore singled and scored on a double by Zander Wiel.
High Point pitchers allowed just four hits all night while striking out five.
The Rockers return to Gastonia on Tuesday for a 6:15 meeting with the Honey Hunters. With two games in High Pont on Wednesday and Thursday and five in Gastonia, the two clubs will meet seven times this week.
NOTES: Giovanny Alfonzo had two base hits to collect his 231st career hit as a Rocker, surpassing Stephen Cardullo’s franchise record of 230.