GASTONIA, N.C. – The first two batters of the game for the High Point Rockers belted home runs and set the tone for the Rockers’ 11-5 win in the final game of the four-game series over Gastonia at Caromont Health Park. The win gave High Point the series win by a 3-1 count and High Point’s six home runs tied a club record for homers in a game.
Third baseman Michael Russell went five-for-five with three doubles and a homer while Ben Aklinski and Tyler Ladendorf each collected three hits as part of High Point’s 14-hit attack. Ladendorf hit homers in the fifth and ninth innings.
High Point improved to 50-46 overall and 11-19 in the second half of the Atlantic League season.
Russell led off the game with his fourth home run of the year to stake the Rockers to a 1-0 lead. Aklinski followed with his 17th homer of the season to put High Point up 2-0. In the ninth, Logan Morrison and Ladendorf would also hit back-to-back homers.
Gastonia’s Zach Jarrett brought home the Honey Hunters’ first run with a sac fly that plated Jack Reinheimer.
High Point added two more runs in the second RBI singles by Russell and Giovanny Alfonzo. Gastonia made it a 4-2 game in the third on a Luis Roman RBI single. The Rockers tallied three times in the fourth to take a 7-2 lead. Mike Gulino pounded a two-run homer and Aklinski singled to score Russell who had doubled. Tyler Ladendorf’s solo homer in the fifth gave High Point an 8-2 lead.
High Point starter Craig Stem (W, 4-3) allowed a three-run homer to Jarrett in the fifth Gastonia pulled within three at 8-5. But High Point went back up at 95 in the eighth when Russell walked, stole second and third and scored on a double by Aklinski.
Ladendorf and Morrison’s homers in the ninth gave the Rockers an 11-5 lead.
Stem went five innings and allowed eight hits and a walk while striking out three and giving up five runs. Junior Rincon shut the Honey Hunters down in the sixth and seventh while Cole Aker threw a shutout eighth inning. Tyler Higgins kept Gastonia scoreless in the ninth. Gastonia’s Roger Bernal (L, 2-1) allowed eight hits and seven runs in 3.1 innings of work.
The Rockers will have an off-day on Monday and then play at Southern Marylaned in a three-game set starting on Tuesday, August 9.