WALDORF, Md. – The High Point Rockers unleashed an offensive onslaught on Southern Maryland on Saturday, posting a 19-4 win over the Blue Crabs at Regency Furniture Stadium.
The Rockers improved to 35-16 on the year with the win while Gastonia (36-15) remained in first in the Atlantic League South Division following a 12-3 win at Staten Island.
The Rockers’ offense began when D.J. Burt led off the contest by reaching on an error. Burt moved to second on a single by Shed Long, Jr. and then took third on a long flyout to right by Zander Wiel. Beau Taylor grounded to first and the Blue Crabs retired Long, Jr. at second as Burt scored.
In the second, the Rockers put four more runs on the board as Emmanuel Tapia supplied an RBI single, Long, Jr. belted a two-run homer and Michael Martinez brought in a run on a fielder’s choice. The lead grew to 7-0 in the third when Daikan Yoh and Ryan Grotjohn singled and then scored on ground outs by Martinez and Ben Aklinski.
The Blue Crabs got to Nicolino for three runs in the bottom of the third. With the bases loaded, Nicolino forced in a run with a walk to Jack Sundberg. Ground outs by Philip Caulfield and Braxton Lee plated two more runs to make it a 7-3 game.
After a scoreless fourth inning, High Point added five runs in the fifth for a 12-3 lead. Pitcher A.J. Cole, who came on in relief of Nicolino, hit a solo homer to lead off the fifth, becoming the first Rockers pitcher to ever hit a homer. Long, Jr. delivered a two-run single and Beau Taylor and Yoh each moved runs across the plate with ground outs.
High Point extended the lead to 15-4 with a three-run seventh inning. Blue Crab reliever Josh Martin walked Yoh and Grotjohn then hit Ben Aklinski with a pitch to load the bases. Rockers reliever Bryce Hensley then bounced a single to left that scored two more runs. John Daly brought home the final run of the inning with a fielder’s choice.
High Point tacked on four more runs in the top of the ninth as Martinez singled home one, Zander Wiel walked with the bases loaded to force home a second run and Taylor delivered a two-run bases loaded double.
Lefty Justin Nicolino made his first start for the Rockers since returning to the club on Friday, throwing three innings and allowing just one hit while walking three and striking out two. Cole went two innings and fanned three while allowing two hits and a run.
Long, Jr. finished with three hits and four RBI while Taylor and Hensley each drove in two runs. Taylor, Yoh and Grotjohn each had a pair of hits and Aklinski scored three runs.
Game three of the series is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. on Sunday at Regency Furniture Stadium. The game can be watched via livestream on FloBaseball and the audio is on the Mixlr app.