• High Point suffered its first conference series loss of the year, but still remains in a tie for second in the league standings.
• Senior Jordan Sergent extended his hitting streak to a career-best nine games by reaching base four times.
• Four different HPU hitters recorded multi-hit games as the Panthers tallied 11 hits on the day.
HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University baseball team battled back from an early hole, only to see Liberty regain the lead for good in an 8-3 loss on Sunday afternoon at Williard Stadium. The Panthers and Flames are part of three-way tie for second in the league standings.
“The game was right there for us,” head coach Craig Cozart said. “We made an untimely error in the sixth inning and didn’t make some pitches in two-strike counts that led to a four-spot. Offensively, we couldn’t move the ball forward when we had runners in scoring position. Credit their pitchers for getting strikeouts when they needed them.”
High Point (21-18, 12-6) suffered its first conference series loss of the season and fell to 2-2 in rubber games on the year. The Flames (24-14, 12-6) vaulted into a three-way tie for the second with the Panthers and Winthrop with nine conference games left for each team.
Liberty grabbed an early 2-0 lead on a two-run homer in the first inning against redshirt-sophomore Harrison Smith, the Panther starter. Smith would work in and out of trouble in the first, eventually getting a strikeout with the bases loaded to escape further damage. HPU evened things up in the last of the second on a sacrifice fly from freshman Tanner Wells and a two-out RBI double by junior Conner Dunbar.
Smith (0-4) worked into the fourth inning before leaving after a one-out double. A pair of wild pitches scored the go-ahead run for the Flames and gave the visitors a lead they would not relinquish. In the decisive sixth frame, Liberty had two on with one out when a potential double-play ball turned into an error that loaded the bases. A two-run double followed to grow the lead to 5-2 before the Flames tacked on two more tallies with a sac fly and an RBI single to lead 7-2.
In the bottom of the frame, junior JJ Woodard singled home senior Jordan Sergent to draw the Panthers back within four. After a fielder’s choice and hit batter loaded the bases with one out, Liberty’s Jackson Bertsch struck out back-to-back hitters to keep High Point from adding any more. The Panthers managed just three hits the rest of the way as Liberty added a solo homer in the top of the ninth to make it a five-run game.
Sergent was one of four HPU hitters that recorded multiple hits as he pushed his hitting streak to nine games. The senior outfielder reached base four times, going 2-for-3 with a pair of walks and a run scored. Freshman Travis Holt collected a pair of hits, as did senior Carson Jackson, and Woodard. Wells pushed his hit streak to eight games by going 1-for-3 with an RBI.
High Point now turns its attention to a pair of mid-week contests against local rivals. The Panthers travel to Elon on Tuesday at 6 p.m. before returning home on Wednesday to host North Carolina A&T at 6 p.m.