HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point Rockers moved a step closer to clinching a berth in the Atlantic League playoffs but were unable to clinch a trip to the postseason, falling at home to Gastonia 10-3 on Tuesday night at Truist Point. With a magic number of two entering the game, the Rockers received the help they needed from Staten Island as the FerryHawks handed Kentucky a 4-1 defeat in New York.
High Point is 69-58 overall on the year and still holds a 5.5-game lead over Kentucky for the Atlantic League’s Wild Card playoff spot. Lancaster defeated York on Tuesday night to wrap up the second half North title. The Rockers hold a magic number of one win or one Genome loss in order to secure a spot in the playoffs.
The Rockers managed just two hits through the first seven innings before rallying in the eighth and ninth frames. Michael Russell and Logan Morrison each hit solo homers in the first two frames but the Rockers were held hitless in innings three through eight.
The Honey Hunters scored twice in the first when High Point starter Mickey Jannis (L, 2-2) walked lead-off hitter Reece Hampton who then stole second base. A single by Jack Reinheimer put runners on the corners. With Jannis’ knuckleball moving, catcher Roldani Baldwin had a challenge and Hampton was able to score on the first of two passed balls. A groundout from Zach Jarrett brought home Reinheimer to give the Honey Hunters a 2-0 lead.
Russell hit a lead-off homer for the Rockers in the bottom of the first to cut the deficit to 2-1 but a Herlis Rodriguez solo homer in the second extended Gastonia’s advantage to 3-1. Morrison answered with a solo homer to right in the second, drawing the Rockers within a run at 3-2.
Gastonia’s lead grew to 5-2 in the second when Hampton doubled, stole third and scored on a wild pitch and Reinheimer struck out but reached first on the same wild pitch. A stolen base, a wild pitch moved him to third and Jarrett singled to make it a 5-2 game. Reinheimer knocked a two-run single in the fourth to give Gastonia a 7-2 lead.
High Point rallied in the eighth and brought the tying run to the plate. With one out, Michael Martinez reached on a fielder’s choice and moved to second on a single by Giovanny Alfonzo before scoring on a Ben Aklinski single. Gastonia reliever Tim Naughton gave up a pinch-single to Tyler Ladendorf but then struck out Latimore with the bases loaded to escape the jam.
Jannis went four innings and allowed six hits and seven runs, five earned. He walked three and struck out five. Gastonia starter Gunnar Kines (W, 1-0) pitched six innings, holding the Rockers to two hits while striking out eight.
High Point and Gastonia will play the middle game of their three-game series on Wednesday night at 6:35 p.m. at Truist Point.