HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point Rockers rallied for a pair of runs in the eighth inning behind a pair of rookies to post a come-from-behind 4-3 victory over Gastonia on Sunday afternoon at Truist Point.
On Sunday, it was a pair of youngsters who led the late charge for the Rockers. Catcher Brian Parreira stroked a solo homer in the seventh to pull the Rockers within one run at 3-2 and then singled home the tying run in the ninth. Leftfielder John Daly beat out an infield grounder, allowing Ryan Grotjohn to score the go-ahead run with two outs in the eighth.
High Point starter Liam O’Sullivan went five innings and allowed five hits while striking out three. But O’Sullivan’s grit helped him keep the Honey Hunters offense mostly in check. He was aided by a defense that saw Daly leap in front of the left field fence to rob Gastonia’s Cole Freeman of home run to end the second inning.
“Liam pitched his butt off,” said Rockers manager Jamie Keefe. “That’s as good as I’ve seen him throw. He kept the ball down in the zone and he gave us a chance to win.
“It was good to see the young kids come through when we really needed them,” said Keefe. “Brian really caught a great game tonight and his home run got us going. And Daly robbed that home run early in the game as well.”
Gastonia touched O’Sullivan for a single run in the first when shortstop Ryan Grotjohn made an errant throw on a grounder by Jack Reinheimer. Reinhimer would steal second and score on a single by J.C. Escarra.
High Point tied the game in the third when Daly drew a walk, stole second and scored on a single by John Nogowski. The Honey Hunters added two more runs in the fifth when Lamar Briggs singled with two outs, and was followed by Reinheimer’s single. Escarra doubled into the rightfield corner to score both runners for a 3-1 Gastonia advantage.
The Rockers trailed 3-1 when Parreira led off the seventh with a solo homer, his second of the year, to cut the deficit to 3-2. The eighth inning started with walks to Ben Aklinski and Grotjohn before Gastonia reliever Sal Romano struck out Daikang Yoh for the first out. Parreira then singled to right to plate Aklinski with the tying run as Grotjohn moved to third. With two outs, Daly hit a grounder to short but he was able to beat the throw to first as Grotjohn scored the go-ahead run.
“John doesn’t know how good he can be and he’s still learning the game but that’s what we’re here to help him do,” said Keefe. “I’ve never been so happy to see a ground ball like he hit because I knew, with his speed, he wasn’t going to let anybody beat him to first base.”
By taking two out of three games from the Honey Hunters, the Rockers have now won all five of their Atlantic League series. “It was another series win at home and to be able to leave here 13-3, we feel pretty good about that,” said Keefe.
Jeremy Rhoades (W, 3-0) pitched a three-up, three-down eighth inning with a pair of strikeouts to earn the win. Ryan Dull (S, 3) struck out two of the three hitters he faced in the ninth to earn the save. Romano (L, 0-1) took the loss for Gastonia.
Daly stole three bases on the day, one off the club record. Parreira led the Rockers with two hits and a pair of RBI. Escarra accounted for two of Gastonia’s five hits on the day.
The Rockers are now 13-3 and continue to own the best record in the Atlantic League, holding a 2.5 game advantage over Gastonia (10-5).
High Point will have Monday off and then will start a three-game series at Southern Maryland on Tuesday at 6:35 p.m. Rockers fans can follow the team on the road via the Mixlr audio app or on FloBaseball. The series will pit the two records in the ALPB as Southern Maryland will enter the series at 11-4 on the season.