GASTONIA, N.C. – The High Point Rockers managed just two hits but they were enough to defeat Gastonia 3-2 on Thursday night at Caromont Health Park. The win marked the 200th victory in franchise history and also the 200th win for Rockers’ manager Jamie Keefe at High Point.
High Point’s scheduled starting pitcher, Mitch Atkins, was pushed back to a Friday start so Keefe made Thursday’s game a bullpen game. Opting to go without at DH, reliever Junior Rincon was sent to the mound to start. In the second, Rincon walked Cole Freeman and, with two outs, Stuart Levy homered to give the Honey Hunters a 2-0 lead.
Gastonia starter Reilly Hovis did not allow a hit through four innings but was lifted after walking Tyler Ladendorf to start the fifth. Ezequiel Zabaleta (L, 4-1) came on and walked Jay Gonzalez then allowed a two-run double into the right-center gap by Giovanny Alfonzo to tie the game at 2-2. Zabaleta then walked Michael Russell and Ben Aklinski to load the bases. Zabaleta walked Logan Morrison to give the Rockers a 3-2 lead before the Honey Hunters turned to lefty Onas Farfan who retired Quincy Latimore to end the threat.
Mickey Jannis (W, 2-1) entered the game for the Rockers in the third inning and held the Honey Hunters hitless until Joseph Rosa lined a single to right with one out in the sixth. Rosa moved to second on a wild pitch, a knuckleball that got away from catcher Mike Gulino, but Jannis induced an easy ground ball out from Reece Hampton to escape any damage.
Jannis would complete five innings and allow just one hit while striking out four and walking two. Bryce Hensley came on in the eighth and allowed one hit while shutting out Gastonia before yielding to Tyler Higgins in the ninth. Higgins hit Jaylen Smith with a pitch with two outs but was able to retire Levy to earn his third save of the year.
Gastonia finished the night with four hits.
High Point is now 23-28 in the second half of the Atlantic League season and 62-55 overall. Kentucky defeated Lexington 8-3 Thursday night and the Rockers hold a 1.5-game lead over the Genomes in the ALPB Wild Card race.
The Rockers return home and start a three-game series at Truist Point against the York Revolution on Friday night at 6:35 p.m.