GASTONIA, N.C. – After going hitless for six innings, the High Point Rockers’ bats came alive in the seventh inning, scoring four runs, and going on to win their second straight game over Gastonia with a 7-3 victory on Wednesday night at CaroMont Health Park.
The win helped the Rockers increase their lead over the Honey Hunters in the Atlantic League’s South Division. The Rockers are now 55-30 overall and 14-8 in the second half. The loss dropped Gastonia to 11-10 and 2.5 games behind High Point in the second half.
High Point starter Mitch Atkins (W, 1-1) got off to a rough start, allowing three first inning runs before settling in and shutting out the Honey Hunters over the next five innings. In the first, Scott Manea singled with one out and then scored on a Zach Jarrett homer, his 21st of the year. After Atkins walked Braxton Davidson, Eric De La Rosa doubled off the netting in left to plate Davidson and stake Gastonia to a 3-0 advantage.
Gastonia starter Brett Daniels and reliever Kelvin Gonzalez kept the Rockers hitless through the first six innings. Daniels went four innings and walked one while striking out four. Gonzalez allowed a walk and fanned two in his two innings of work.
The Rockers waited until the seventh inning to start their rally. Trent Fennell (L, 0-1) came on for Gonzalez and hit Ben Aklinski with a pitch before Quincy Latimore reached on an error by Gastonia second baseman Kevin Santa. Fennell then loaded the bases by walking Beau Taylor. After inducing a pop fly from Zander Wiel for the first out, Daikan Yoh singled to score Aklinski, marking High Point’s first hit of the night. That set the stage for Michael Martinez to double to left field, scoring Latimore, Taylor and Yoh and giving the Rockers a 4-3 lead.
The Rockers increased their lead to 5-3 in the eighth when Gastonia’s Harry Rutkowski allowed a single to Aklinski before issuing a one-out walk to Taylor. Wiel then singled to center to score Aklinski and pad the Rockers’ lead.
The Rockers added two more runs in the top of the ninth. Gastonia’s Harry Rutkowski walked Martinez and D.J. Burt and then hit Shed Long, Jr. with a pitch to load the bases. Aklinski lined a double off the netting in left to score two and increase High Point’s lead to 7-3.
Atkins went six innings and walked two and struck out four while scattering seven hits. Taylor Guerrieri tossed a 1-2-3 inning in the seventh and Jeremy Rhoades pitched around a one-out single in the eighth to continue Gastonia’s scoreless streak. Kyle Halbohn kept the Honey Hunters at bay in the ninth, leading to the 7-3 final.
Aklinski had two hits and two RBI on the night while Martinez led all hitters with three RBI. Jarrett finished with three hits and a pair of RBI for Gastonia.
NOTES: D.J. Burt has reached base in 40 consecutive games thanks to a ninth inning walk… It is the second-longest streak in the Atlantic League in the last two years, trailing only a 50-game streak set in 2022 by Carlos Franco with York… Aklinski continues to lead the ALPB with 75 runs scored.