HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point Rockers shaved a game off of Gastonia’s lead in the Atlantic League’s South Division with a 4-3 victory on Wednesday night at Truist Point. High Point starter Craig Stem struck out seven over his six innings of work, Ryan Dull earned his 18th save of the year, and Ryan Grotjohn hit a two-run homer to lead the Rockers to the win.
The Rockers are now 30-21 in the South Division race while the Honey Hunters fell to 33-19.
“We’re back. We needed that,” said Rockers manager Jamie Keefe. “They got to Stem early but he was able to keep the ball down in the zone after that and we were able to put some runs on the board. The seventh, eighth and ninth innings, (our bullpen) did exactly what they’re supposed to do.”
Gastonia’s Zach Jarrett homered with one aboard in the top of the first to give the Honey Hunters an early 2-0 lead off Stem (W, 3-2). The Rockers tied it in the third when D.J. Burt lined a single and scored on Grotjohn’s homer.
Gastonia forged a brief 3-2 lead in the top of the fourth on a solo homer by David Washington. But the Rockers battled back, tying the game in the bottom of the fourth off Gastonia starter Zac Westcott (L, 0-1). Beau Taylor led off the frame with a single, moved to second on a single by Quincy Latimore and scored on Burt’s single.
High Point tallied again in the bottom of the fourth against Westcott to take a 4-3 lead as Ben Aklinski walked, stole second, and scored when Zander Wiel hit a line shot off the wall in left.
Stem left with a quality start: six innings of work, allowing just four hits and three runs while walking one and striking out seven. Cam Bedrosian retired the Honey Hunters on eight pitches in the seventh, picking up a pair of strikeouts.
Gastonia’s greatest scoring threat came in the eighth when Jack Reinheimer led off with a double and was sacrificed to third by Kevin Santa. But Rockers reliever Jameson McGrane retired Jarrett on a foul tip third strike and induced a fly out to center by Scott Manea. Jarrett’s foul tip was disputed by Gastonia manager Goose Gozzo who was ejected on the play.
“We took care of business in that situation,” said Keefe. “We haven’t necessarily been throwing the right pitches in the right count but Beau (Taylor) was back there and he know this line-up really well. If we throw the ball like we’re capable of with Beau and Brian (Parreira) back there, we’ll be fine.”
Ryan Dull set the Honey Hunters down in order in the ninth to earn his league-leading 18th save of the season.
Grotjohn is riding a six-game hitting streak in which he is hitting .409.
“It’s amazing what having your parents in town can do for you,” laughed Keefe following the game. “We’re trying to get his parents an Airbnb through the playoffs.”
The series finale between the Rockers and Honey Hunters will be on Thursday at 6:35 p.m. at Truist Point. It will be the final home game of the regular season. The Rockers will host a South Division Championship Series at home on Friday, September 22.
NOTES: The Rockers activated catcher Beau Taylor from the injured list prior to the game. He had not played since taking a foul tip off his knee on August 22. The Rockers put catcher Jake Marshall on the inactive list.