CHARLESTON, W.Va. – It didn’t take long for new High Point catcher Roldani Baldwin to make a good impression on his Rockers teammates. The former Boston Red Sox farmhand and Dominican Republic native was released by Boston’s Class AAA Worcester team on August 5. On Tuesday of this week, he joined the Rockers and manager Jamie Keefe immediately inserted him into the starting line-up.
Baldwin was behind the plate for Tuesday’s 8-4 win over Charleston as he belted a three-run homer in helping to power the Rockers to the win.
And if that wasn’t enough to convince his teammates that he can play, Baldwin gave an encore performance on Wednesday night, collecting a double and a homer and scoring twice in leading the Rockers to a 4-1 win over the Dirty Birds. The win was the fourth straight for the Rockers as they heat up in their second half pursuit of the Atlantic League’s South Division pennant.
Baldwin had some familiarity with the Rockers, having been a Red Sox teammate with Jeter Downs, the brother of High Point first baseman Jerry Downs, and pitcher Kutter Crawford, the brother of former Rockers reliever Jonathon Crawford.
“Roldani’s had an immediate impact,” said Keefe on Wednesday night. “He is a very experienced catcher who has been around the game a long time and has great tools. He knows how to work with our pitching staff and has earned the trust and respect of his teammates very quickly.”
Baldwin’s arrival will add to High Point’s already talented corps of catchers in Mike Gulino and Dakota Mulcay
Wednesday night’s game was scoreless through five as starters High Point’s Ivan Pineyro (W, 5-3) and Charleston’s Derrick Adams (L, 5-7) kept the hits to a minimum. Pineyro, who moved into a tie for the team lead with his fifth win of the season, went five innings and allowed just three hits and two walks while striking out three and keeping Charleston scoreless. Adams went eight innings and allowed just two runs on eight hits while striking out seven and not issuing a walk.
The Rockers broke the ice in the fifth when Baldwin doubled to lead off the inning. Jay Gonzalez was thrown out on a swinging bunt by Adams, moving Baldwin to third. From there, Giovanny Alfonzo drove a fly ball to right with Baldwin scoring on the sacrifice fly.
In the sixth. Michael Russell singled, moved to second on a single by Ben Aklinski then took third on a Downs ground out. Zander Wiel’s fly ball to center scored Russell on yet another sacrifice fly.
The Dirty Birds cut the lead in half in the seventh off reliever Devin Fontenot. Charleston’s Devon Torrence drew a walk and then the former Ohio State cornerback stole second and moved to third on a ground out by Miles Williams. Scott Burcham lined a single to center to bring Torrence home and make it a 2-1 game.
But Baldwin settled matters in the top of the ninth. Ricardo Gomez relieved Adams to start the inning and Quincy Latimore beat out an infield single. Baldwin then blasted a home run to left to put the Rockers up 4-1 and seal the win.
Tyler Higgins allowed one hit and struck out one in pitching the ninth inning and earning his first save of the season.
The Rockers are now 55-49 overall and 16-22 in the second half. While High Point still has a substantial deficit to make up in catching Gastonia for the second half title, Wednesday’s win, coupled with a loss by Kentucky, put the Rockers at least temporarily in a tie for the top wild card berth, pending the outcome of Lancaster’s game with York.
The Rockers will go for the sweep of the three-game series on Thursday night at 6:35 p.m. at Appalachian Power Park.