HIGH POINT, N.C. – A late rally from High Point University baseball fell just a pair of runs short this Sunday, as William & Mary took the series finale by a score of 8-6. Two outs into the bottom half of the ninth, a freshman-led offensive burst sparked a four-run rally to get within striking distance of the Tribe, but would leave the tying runs of the afternoon on the bases to end the contest.
“What you hope is that that keeps those [freshmen] hungry and it puts some pressure on your regular guys to know that ‘If I don’t perform there are guys behind me that are ready to get something done’ and push them to another level,” said Head Coach Craig Cozart. “…Our guys will keep fighting, we’ll keep coaching, and we’re going to get this thing right before conference play get’s going.”
The Purple & White were the first on the board against W&M with catcher Daniel Millwee sending a solo shot to right center to make it 1-0. Millwee’s bomb was his third in the past five games, collecting three-run homers against NC Central and North Carolina A&T. The senior is now slugging .529 for the 2019 campaign, while his nine RBI tie a team-high.
The Tribe would come back to take a lead in the third however, before a Sam Zayicek RBI single knotted things at two apiece in the fourth. Travis Holt recorded a two-out double in the frame to get himself into scoring position for the Zayicek knock up the middle.
It would be all William & Mary in the ensuing three innings, with the visitors tacking on six unanswered runs for an 8-2 advantage. The Panthers recorded a single knock from the fifth through the eighth, before some impressive freshman performances helped the HPU bats come alive in the final stanza.
Facing a six-run mountain to climb, pinch-hitting freshman Casey Haire drew a two-out walk to get the Panther offense going, before an AJ Holcomb single and a William & Mary error loaded the bases for the home team. After recording a career-high three hits in his previous appearance, first-year Panther Evan Bergman sent a double to left field to make it 8-4, before Conner Dunbar scored on yet another Tribe error later in the frame.
Bergman crossed home on the following at bat with Joe Johnson dropping in his second hit of the afternoon on a single to left. Johnson would represent the tying run on the base paths but would get stranded at first as the final score reflected in favor of the visiting Tribe.
>> The Panthers’ five freshmen batters accounted for three hits and a single drawn walk on the day, as AJ Holcomb and Casey Haire both reached first in the first plate appearances of their careers
>> Trent Harris made his first appearance on the mound in a Panthers uniform, as he and fellow freshmen Jack Nathan and KJ Wells held William & Mary scoreless in the final three innings
>> Redshirt-sophomore Jimmy Hoeferkamp made his collegiate debut as a pinch-runner, scoring a run in the ninth inning
>> Bergman is currently on a team-best four-game hitting streak, he’s averaging .375 since February 19th
COMING UP NEXT
The Panthers complete their home stand with a Tuesday contest against Elon, with first pitch scheduled for 4 PM. HPU has split their home and home series with the Phoenix over the past two years, with the road team coming out victorious in all four of those previous matchups.
“We’ll get out Tuesday and get after it,” said Cozart. “Hopefully Muhammed Eid can continue to do what he’s been doing on the mound, and give us a chance to get ourselves rolling offensively.”