• Senior Tony Fortier-Bensen and freshman Carson Jackson both went 4-5 in the loss to the Spartans.
• High Point committed six errors that led to five unearned runs.
• HPU is now 5-11 in season openers since joining Div. I and 1-9 in openers away from Williard Stadium.
HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University baseball team struggled in its 2015 season opener, falling on the road at UNCG by a final score of 12-8 on Friday afternoon. Senior Tony Fortier-Bensen and freshman Carson Jackson went a combined 8-10 with three RBI and three runs scored for HPU.
“Baseball is a crazy game sometimes,” head coach Craig Cozart said. “We thought heading into the season that pitching and defense would be our biggest strength and we didn’t do either one tonight. That being said, we competed very well from the sixth inning on. We swung the bat well and outhit them. Unfortunately we didn’t put ourselves in a position to win because of what we did in the first five innings.”
Fortier-Bensen went 4-5 with two runs scored while Jackson finished 4-5 with three RBI and a run scored. Senior Cody Manzella also performed well at the plate, going 3-5 with a run scored.
Four different players recorded multiple hits for UNCG, led by Zac MacAneney who went 3-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. Tyler Long, Collin Woody and Aaron Wright all finished with two hits and two RBI for the Spartans in the win.
Senior John McGillicuddy took the loss for the Panthers on the mound after pitching 2-2/3 innings and allowing five earned runs on six hits and three walks while striking out two.
UNCG starter Ryan Clark pitched five-plus innings to earn the win despite allowing four earned runs. Clark gave up seven hits and two walks while striking out just one.
The Panthers struggled in the field, picking up six errors in the contest, which led to five unearned runs.
High Point fell behind by a 3-0 margin in the first inning as first baseman Eric Kalbfleisch hit a two-run triple to center then came in on a fielder’s choice to give the Spartans a three-run lead.
The Panthers got on the board in the top of the third inning on an RBI groundout by senior Dane McDermott. Manzella hit a double just off the glove of a diving Woody at third for UNCG and scored on the McDermott ground out.
The Spartans answered right back in the bottom of the frame with two runs on a double off the left-field line by Woody, increasing the UNCG lead to 5-1.
Two HPU errors came back to haunt High Point in the bottom of the fourth inning as UNCG’s Shelton Tripp reached on a fielding error and advanced from second to third on a throwing error before scoring on a one-out sacrifice fly by Hunter King.
UNCG took advantage of another High Point error in the fifth to score four more runs and push its lead to 10-1. A one-out bases-loaded groundball to Clare was booted allowing one run to score. An RBI fielder’s choice by MacAneney and a two-run double by Long followed the error as the Spartans scored three more runs to take a nine-run advantage.
High Point pushed three runs across in the top of the sixth inning to close the deficit. Senior Josh Spano was hit by a pitch, sophomore Josh Greene walked and Fortier-Bensen singled through the left side to load the bases with no outs for Jackson, who hit a two-run single to center. After a single by Manzella loaded the bases again, sophomore Brenden Rivera hit a pinch-hit sacrifice fly to score HPU’s third run of the inning, making the score 10-4.
Wright would drive in two late runs for UNCG with an RBI double in the sixth and a solo home run in the eighth while HPU got an RBI single from sophomore Peter Ripke in the eighth and three runs in the ninth on an RBI single from Jackson and two wild pitches to make the final score 12-8.
With the loss, High Point drops to 5-11 in season openers since joining Div. I in 2000. The Panthers are now 1-9 in season openers away from Williard Stadium.
High Point and UNC Greensboro return to action on Saturday, Feb. 14, when the two teams will meet at Williard Stadium in High Point, N.C., for the second game of the three-game home-and-home series. First pitch is set for 2 p.m.