HIGH POINT, N.C. – After some weekend rain gave High Point University baseball a full week between contests, the hosting Panthers responded with a 6-4 win over visiting North Carolina Central this Tuesday night. The club was boosted by a three-run shot from designated hitter Daniel Millwee in the seventh, while relievers Garrett Letchworth, Matt Hodges and Grey Lyttle combined for 4.1 innings of work without an earned run to their name.
“…we figured out a way to win and that’s kind of been the way we’ve been doing things,” said Head Coach Craig Cozart after his 298th career victory. “[Daniel] Millwee came up in a huge situation when we had to get something done, with a three-run homer, to put us back in the lead and in control of the game. And fortunately our bullpen did their job tonight.”
With righties Andrew Gottfried and Harrison Smith holding the Eagles to just a single hit through the opening three innings, it would be freshman Trent Harris getting the Panthers on the board first, with the first RBI knock of his collegiate career. With starting first baseman JJ Woodard reaching on a single through the left side, junior Ryan Russell touched first on an arid throw from NCCU’s third baseman to give HPU a pair of runners in scoring position in the bottom of the second.
Harris responded to the situation, reaching for an outside pitch to drop a two-out single into left field and put his side ahead by a pair of runs. The Eagles’ offense would go on to score four in the proceeding two innings, while a failed pickoff attempt from NC Central reliever Chris Krennrich put the score at 4-3 headed into the seventh.
Hitting a pair of Panther batters in the bottom frame, NCCU’s Tom Guglielmello provided HPU with a couple of base runners, as starting DH Daniel Millwee stepped into the box for his fourth at bat of the night. Producing outs in his first three trips to the plate, Millwee erased any thoughts of those previous at bats with a no-doubter to left, putting his side back ahead 6-4. Tallying his first homer of the year, Millwee launched the third pitch of his at bat ten feet over the left field wall, giving the Panthers a two-run advantage on a single swing of the bat.
“When we’re playing like we are right now, which we’re not clicking on all cylinders, the little things matter,” said Cozart. “The little things are showing up, in a negative and a positive way…making big pitches, figuring out a way to create some runs and taking advantage of an RBI situation like Millwee did is good. So we just have to keep getting better, get into a rhythm. Baseball is a marathon, it’s not a sprint, which means you need to be able to get into a rhythm as a team.”
Cozart and company used a tandem of three arms to close out the final four innings of the Tuesday contest, as right-hander Grey Lyttle collected his second save of the season. Giving up a single base runner during his time on the bump, Lyttle combined with Matt Hodges and Garrett Letchworth for 4.1 frames of shutout baseball, giving up just three hits and two walks as a group.
The effort of the Panthers’ bullpen was enough to hold off any kind of Eagles’ comeback, as HPU capped off its first home victory of the young 2019 season.
>> Freshman catcher Brian Rall made his collegiate debut against NCCU batting in the nine-hole. The first-year Panther finished 1-for-3 at the plate, while gunning down an attempted steal of second in the first inning
>> With three plate appearances on the night, senior Nick Nicarchos delivered his first hit of the 2019 season, on a double to right center in the eighth
>> Singling in the bottom of the third, sophomore Travis Holt has opened the year on a five-game hitting streak. He’s hit in his last six games wearing a Panther uniform
>> Millwee’s three RBI put him at four for the season, just one behind Joe Johnson for a team-high. He’s reached first safely in every game of 2019 thus far, and is slugging a Panther-best .526 on the year
>> Letchworth, Hodges and Lyttle are still yet to have an earned run tagged to their name, with the trio combining for 8.2 IP of relief and a 13.5 K/9 average
COMING UP NEXT
HPU gets back on the road on Wednesday, taking the short trip to Greensboro for a 4 PM first pitch at North Carolina A&T. The Panthers are currently on a six-game winning streak against the Bulldogs, last losing to the program back in 2014.
“[North Carolina A&T] can really pitch,” responded Coach Cozart, when asked about his team’s approaching trip to Greensboro. “They’re fundamentally sound. I think they’re probably very similar to North Carolina Central offensively in that they’re going to grind things out, move the ball around and make you make plays. It’s not going to be easy. It’s never easy when you go over to their place, so our guys are going to have to dig down and find a different level.”