LEXINGTON, Ky., – Zander Wiel hit his 24th home run of the year and drove in four runs to lead the High Point Rockers to a 9-7 win over the Kentucky Wild Health Genomes on Thursday night at Wild Health Field.
Wiel singled in two runs in the third inning and added a two-run homer in the seventh as Craig Stem threw seven innings and earned the win to improve to 3-3 on the year.
The Rockers scored four times in the third off Kentucky starter Max Povse. Povse retired the first six batters he faced but ran into trouble in the third. Tyler Ladendorf reached on a fielding error by Kentucky second baseman Luke Becker. After a flyout from Giovanny Alfonzo, Ladendorf stole second as Povse walked Mike Gulino. The pair then each moved up by stealing a base. A walk to Michael Russell loaded the bases and Jerry Downs double home two runs. Wiel then singled to score two more runs and give the Rockers an early 4-0 advantage.
The Genomes closed the gap in the bottom of the third when Stem allowed singles to Gavin Johns and Luke Becker to start the frame before Chis Shaw hit his ninth homer of the season to make it a 4-3 High Point lead.
High Point extended its lead to 5-3 in the fourth when Quincy Latimore reached on a throwing error by third baseman Jimmy Paredes then moved to third on a double by Alfonzo. Povse then committed a balk to bring Latimore in to score.
The Rockers went ahead 6-3 in the sixth when Ladendorf reached again on a error. He scored easily from second on Alfonzo’s liner off the wall though Alfonzo was thrown out trying to stretch the single into a double by rightfielder Teodoro Martinez. Samir Duenez hit a solo homer in the sixth for Kentucky to leave the Rockers with a 6-4 lead.
In the seventh, Downs led off with a single to left and scored on Wiel’s 24th home run of the year to give High Point an 8-4 lead.
Stem went seven innings and allowed nine hits and four runs while striking out five and throwing 101 pitches. Bryce Hensley came on in the eighth and allowed a single to Martinez and a walk to Duenez before Austin Rei homered to close Kentucky’s deficit to 8-7. Ryan Dull entered following the Rei homer and retired Johns for the final out of the eighth.
The Rockers added an insurance run in the ninth when Aklinski walked, Downs and Wiel were hit by pitches and Jay Gonzalez lifted a sac fly to center to score Aklinski for a 9-7 lead.
Dull gave up a pair of hits in the ninth but kept the Genomes scoreless to earn his seventh save of the season.
High Point improved to 5-15 in the second half and 44-42 overall. Kentucky is also 44-42 leaving the two clubs tied for the moment in the Atlantic League wild card race.
The Rockers will open a three-game series at Southern Maryland on Friday at 6:35 at Regency Furniture Stadium.