HIGH POINT, N.C. – Four Gastonia pitchers limited High Point to just two hits as the Honey Hunters took a 2-1 series lead in the Atlantic League South Division Championship with an 8-2 win on Friday night in front of 2,660 fans at Truist Point.
Gastonia starter Gunnar Kines went six innings and allowed both hits, a two-run homer to Ben Aklinski in the fifth inning and a single to Logan Morrison in the sixth, as the Honey Hunters built a 4-0 lead. Three Gastonia relievers put the Rockers down in order in each of the final three innings.
High Point starter Mitch Atkins (L, 0-1) went five innings, allowing six hits and four runs. He allowed a solo homer to Joseph Rosa in the first that put Gastonia up 1-0. In the fourth, Zach Jarrett doubled home a run and Jake Skole tripled home Jarrett as Gastonia went up 4-0.
High Point’s Zander Wiel drew a lead-off walk from Kines leading off the fifth and Ben Aklinski hit a two-run homer to left to cut the deficit to 4-2.
The Rockers gave up four runs in the sixth as reliever Junior Rincon faced four batters and three of them scored. After striking out Jarrett, Rincon yielded a triple to Skole, walked Herlis Rodrigues and walked Cole Freeman. Reliever Bryce Hensley came on and allowed a sac fly to pinch-hitter Luis Castro as Gastonia went up 5-2. But three consecutive singles brought home two more runs and the Honey Hunters held an 8-2 lead after six.
“Mitch gave us enough to win,” said Rockers manager Jamie Keefe. “They got to our bullpen tonight. But we’ll be ready to go tomorrow. We will be hitting on all cylinders.”
Gastonia was led by Rosa, Jarrett, Skole and Holderbach who each had a pair of hits.
Game Four of the best-of-five series will start at 6:35 p.m. Saturday at Truist Point. The Rockers will send righty Neil Uskali (5-5, 5.38) to the mound to face Gastnia’s righy Matt Solter (5-12, 4.15).
Should the Rockers win to even the series at 2-2, the decisive Game Five will be played at Truist Point on Sunday at 4:05 p.m.