HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point Rockers bottom of the batting order came through in a big way on Friday night in leading the Rockers to a 10-4 win over Charleston in front of a crowd of 2,318 at Truist Point. In truth, the top of the batting order wasn’t too shabby either.
High Point’s six through nine hitters combined for eight hits in 15 at-bats to help the Rockers win for the 23rd time this season, improving to 23-9 and continuing to hold a half-game lead over 22-9 Gastonia.
All four of those six through nine hitters, catcher Beau Taylor, left fielder Michael Martinez, shortstop Ryan Grotjohn and third baseman Michael Russell, collected at least two hits vs. Charleston. Russell hit a pair of doubles and drove in three runs, Taylor had two singles and a run batted in, and Martinez and Grotjohn each had a double and a single.
The top of the order celebrated the return of second baseman Shed Long, Jr. who had been out of action with a broken toe since May 5. Long, Jr. started the Rockers on the right path with a first inning triple. In just eight games, Long, Jr. has been held hitless just twice while collecting 12 hits.
“Having Shed back was huge,” said Rockers manager Jamie Keefe. “Just having him around the ballpark is great. He got us going tonight.”
High Point put its first run up on the board when Long, Jr. tripled with one out in the first and scored on a groundout by John Nogowski. High Point struck three times in the second on singles by Ben Aklinski and Beau Taylor and an RBI double from Michael Martinez and a two-run double into the leftfield corner off the bat of Russell. The Rockers extended the lead to 5-0 in the third when Nogowski walked then moved to second on a walk to Aklinski. After Nogowski stole third, Charleston pitcher Derrick Adams (L, 2-3) attempted to pick Aklinski off first but he was able to get into a rundown between first and second, allowing Nogowski to trot home with High Point’s fifth run of the night.
The Dirty Birds scored three times in the fourth to cut the gap to 5-3. After High Point starter Liam O’Sullivan (W, 2-2) allowed an infield hit to Luis Roman, Telvin Nash homered to right-center, a two-run shot. Bobby Bradley drew a walk and scored on a double by Diego Goris.
The Rockers scored twice more in the fourth when Martinez singled and Grotjohn drew a walk. D.J. Burt then doubled into the rightfield corner, scoring two runs and giving the Rockers a 7-3 lead.
High Point added an unearned run in the sixth as Grotjohn singled, stole second and third, and scored when Burt’s grounder to third was misplayed by Diego Goris for an error. Grotjohn’s run increased High Point’s lead to 8-3. The Dirty Birds made it 8-4 in the top of the seventh on a Yefri Perez walk, a stolen base, and an RBI double by Jalen Miller. The Rockers got that run back in the bottom of the seventh when Nogowski singled, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on Taylor’s single.
High Point’s final run came in the bottom of the eighth when Grotjohn and Russell slammed back-to-back doubles with Russell picking up the RBI.
High Point and Charleston will return to action in game two of the three-game series on Saturday with a 6:35 p.m. start at Truist Point. The game will be streamed live on FloSports and MixLR will carry the Rockers’ audio broadcast of the game.