WALDORF, Md. – The High Point Rockers won a game of perseverance on Wednesday night, outlasting Southern Maryland 10-8 in 12 innings, the longest game in Rockers history. Michael Martinez, in just his second game after arriving in the U.S. from his home in the Dominican Republic, hit a two-run single in the top of the 12th to give the Rockers the win.
But don’t celebrate too long. High Point and Southern Maryland meet again just 12 hours after the conclusion of Wednesday night’s game. Thursday’s game time is set for 10:35 a.m. from Regency Furniture Stadium.
The win puts the Rockers at 15-3 on the season, continuing the best start to a season in franchise history. The Rockers own a 2.5 game lead in the South Division of the Atlantic League over 12-5 Gastonia.
The win also marked the 996th of Rockers manager Jamie Keefe who continues to move towards his 1,000th career win in his 21st season as a professional manager.
In the top of the 12th, the Rockers started the frame with pitcher Austin Ross (W, 1-0) on second base. John Daly singled to put runners on the corners before Daly stole second to put both runners in scoring position. Martinez then singled to right to score both runners and give High Point a 10-8 lead.
Neither team scored in the 11th inning as the Rockers escaped on a nifty double play when Burt caught a line drive in center and doubled off the Blue Crab runner at second. High Point pushed across a run in the top of the 10th when they started the inning with Brian Parreira on second. Pitcher Jeremy Rhoades sacrificed him to second before Blue Crab reliever Andre Scrubb, a former High Point University pitcher, walked Daly. D.J. Burt then singled through the right side of the infield to score Parreira and give the Rockers an 8-7 lead.
Austin Ross came on to pitch the bottom of the 10th inning and the Blue Crabs tied the game on a sac bun by Garrett Kueber to move the runner to third before a sacrifice fly by Braxton Lee tied the game at 8-8.
The Rockers jumped on top 2-0 in the first when centerfielder D.J. Burt led off the game with a double then scored on John Nogowski’s eighth homer of the season. But the Blue Crabs tied the game in the bottom of the second when Alex Crosby singled, moved to second on a disengagement violation by High Point starter Neil Uskali, then stole third. Crosby made it a 2-1 game when he scored on a ground out by Michael Baca before Felix Aberouette tied the game with an RBI single.
The Rockers forged a 3-2 lead in the top of the fourth when Ben Aklinski was hit by a pitch, stole second and scored on a fielding error on a ball hit by Daikan Yoh. But So. Maryland scored three times in the fifth for a 5-3 lead.
High Point regained the lead with four runs in the top of the eighth, emerging from the frame with a 7-5 advantage. John Daly hit a three-run homer to key the outburst, notching his second homer in as many nights. D.J. Burt added a run on a Nogowski single and a pair of errors by So. Maryland.
The Crabs added single runs in the seventh and eighth innings to re-tie the game at 7 apiece. The seventh inning run scored on a fielding error by Nogowski while the run in the eighth came on an RBI single by Crosby.
The Rockers loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the ninth but were unable to capitalize.
Hayden Shenefield (L, 0-1) pitched the top of the 12th and allowed two hits and a pair of runs while walking one and striking out one. Ross went three innings in relief, did not allow a hit while walking two and fanning two.
High Point and Southern Maryland will play the final game of the three-game series on Thursday morning at 10:35 a.m. at Regency Furniture Stadium.
NOTES: The game was the longest regular season game in Rockers history . . . The previous long was 11 innings vs. Charleston on May 11, 2022 . . . The Rockers played a 12-inning postseason game in the opening game of the League Championship Series last October . . . The Rockers stole a club record nine bases on Wednesday night . . . The previous record had been five set on four prior occasions . . . Michael Martinez, making just his second start of the year after joining the team over the weekend, set a team record by striking out five times.