GASTONIA, N.C. – The High Point Rockers overcame an early 2-1 deficit and withstood a bases-loaded situation in the ninth to defeat Gastonia 9-5 on Wednesday night at CaroMont Health Park.
The Rockers are 48-25 overall on the season and 7-3 in the second half. High Point holds a half-game lead over 6-3 Gastonia in the race for the second half pennant in the South Division.
Trailing 2-1 after four innings, the Rockers scored four times in the fifth to take a 5-2 lead. Gastonia starter Gunnar Kines (L, 8-3) had retired eight straight Rockers when Ryan Grotjohn led off the fifth with a walk. Ben Aklinski singled into the left field corner, allowing Grotjohn to move to third but Aklinski was cut down trying to stretch the single into a double. Brian Parreira then flew out to right field, allowing Grotjohn to score on the sac fly and tie the game at 2-2. With two outs, D.J. Burt and Michael Russell each reached on soft singles to left field, bringing Shed Long, Jr. to the plate. Long, Jr. bounced a ground ball to third where Gastonia’s Pedro Gonzalez fielded the ball cleanly but threw it wide of first, allowing both Burt and Russell to score to put High Point ahead 4-2. After Daikan Yoh was hit by a pitch, Quincy Latimore doubled into the left field corner, scoring Long, Jr for a 5-2 Rocker lead.
Gastonia’s Zach Jarrett hit a solo homer off Rocker starter Jheyson Manzueta (W, 3-0) in the bottom of the fifth to make it a 5-3 game. The Rockers answered back in the top of the eighth with Parreira lining his sixth homer of the year over the fence in right field to extend the Rockers’ advantage to 6-3.
Gastonia tallied a pair of runs against reliever Jameson McGrane in the eighth. Braxton Davidson reached on a fielder’s choice and stole second. A walk to Scott Manea put two runners aboard in front of an RBI single by Eric De La Rosa that scored Davidson. David Washington then singled to plate Manea and make it a 6-5 game going to the ninth.
With one out in the ninth, Latimore reached on an infield single to short, his third hit of the game. John Daly was the designated pinch-runner and he scored easily from first when Taylor sent a double to left-center, raising High Point’s lead to 7-5. Aklinski then popped his 11th homer of the year to left-center, scoring Taylor ahead of him, to give the Rockers a 9-5 advantage.
Gastonia loaded the bases against High Point’s Ryan Dull in the bottom of the ninth on a pair of infield errors and a walk but Dull was able to retire the side on a strikeout and a pair of flyballs to the outfield.
Johnni Turbo homered in the bottom of the first inning, his second of the year, to give the Honey Hunters a 1-0 lead. The Rockers tied it in the second when Latimore singled and took third on a single by Taylor. Grotjohn’s sac fly to left was deep enough to give Latimore time to tag and score.
In the fourth, Gastonia took a 2-1 lead when Eric De La Rosa walked, took second on a balk by High Point starter Jheyson Manzueta, then scored on a double to left by Luis Curbelo.
Latimore finished the night with three hits, including a double and an RBI. Russell, Taylor, Aklinski, Parreira and Burt each had a pair of hits as part of High Point’s 13-hit attack. Jarrett had three of Gastonia’s seven hits on the night.
Game three of the series is scheduled for Thursday at 6:35 p.m. at CaroMont Health Park. The game will be streamed live on FLO Baseball and is also available on the Mixlr app.