High Point, NC- Elih Villanueva struck out 11 and Felix Pie drove in three runs as the Kentucky Wild Health Genomes defeated the High Point Rockers 6-2 on Thursday night at Truist Point.
Pie’s two-run home run in the third inning off Rockers starter Ivan Pineyro (4-2) gave the Genomes a lead they would not relinquish and provided more than enough offense for Villanueva’s masterful start.
The Genomes took a 1-0 lead almost instantly, when Luke Becker tripled on the first pitch of the game and scored moments later on a wild pitch. In the bottom of the first inning, the Rockers appeared to pick up exactly where the offense had left off last night, however, when Ben Aklinski (16th) and Jerry Downs (15th) hit back-to-back home runs for a 2-1 lead.
In the third, with a runner on first base, Pie launched a towering home run down the right field line, keeping it fair and putting Wild Health ahead 3-2. He would also score in the sixth on a wild pitch after hitting the Genomes’ second triple of the game.
Kentucky would add two more runs in the eighth inning off Bryce Hensley to close the scoring.
Villanueva (8-8) was masterful, allowing just one hit after the first inning and whiffing 11 Rockers, including four straight and five out of six in one stretch. As a unit, the Rockers only managed a pair of singles after the first inning and had only four total base runners over the last eight innings.
The win moves the Genomes back ahead of the Rockers in the Wild Card race by one game with now 40 games remaining. The Rockers head to Gastonia for a four-game weekend series, beginning with a doubleheader at CaroMont Health Park tomorrow at 3:15. Their next home series is next weekend, August 12-14 at home against Gastonia.