HIGH POINT, N.C. – The Gastonia Honey Hunters scored five runs in the fifth inning to erase a 3-0 High Point lead and went on to defeat the Rockers 9-4 Friday night in front of a crowd of 2,188 at Truist Point.
Both starting pitchers cruised through the first three innings. High Point’s Bryan Quillens allowed four hits through four innings while striking out five and keeping the Honey Hunters off the board. Gastonia starter Dakota Chalmers struck out six Rockers in his three innings of work. Chalmers left after the third and the Rockers greeted reliever Reilly Hovis with a three-run outburst in the bottom of the fourth. With one out, the Rockers put together five straight base hits. Giovanny Alfonzo and Mike Gulino singled before Michael Russell doubled to score Alfonzo. Ben Aklinski beat out a slow chopper to short for an infield hit that scored Gulino. Jerry Downs then lined an RBI single up the middle to plate Russell and give High Point a 3-0 advantage.
Quillens exited after the fourth inning due to an injury and Cole Aker was summoned from the bullpen. After a lead-off single by Stuart Levy, Jake Skole hit a two-run homer. Aker walked Reece Hampton and Jack Reinheimer beat out an infield single. Gabriel Castellanos took over for Aker and allowed an RBI fielder’s choice to Zach Jarrett and also scored two runners on wild pitches as the Honey Hunters took a 5-3 advantage.
Levy doubled to lead-off the sixth for Gastonia and scored on a sac fly by Hampton to give the Honey Hunters a 6-3 lead. A triple by Joseph Rosa in the seventh followed by a run-scoring single from Jarrett and a sac fly by Levy put Gastonia up 8-3.
The Rockers rallied in the eighth, putting two runners on before Russell stroked an RBI double to make it an 8-4 game. But the rally died and Gastonia added another run on a single, an error and a wild pitch in the ninth.
Aker (L, 2-3) took the loss while Hovis (W, 6-5) earned the victory.
High Point is now 51-49 on te season and 12-22 in the second half. Gastonia improved to 70-30 and 25-9.
High Point and Gastonia meet in the second game of the three-game series on Saturday at 6:35 p.m. at Truist Point.