DURHAM, N.C. – After giving up a run in the first, High Point University baseball scored 10 unanswered this Tuesday to defeat NC Central 10-1. With the midweek win the Panthers complete the home-and-home sweep against the Eagles this year, and are 4-0 against MEAC opponents in 2019.
“We had our big inning there in the middle of the game. Joe Johnson leading us off with another home run and [JJ] Woodard was really good in two-out RBI situations,” said Head Coach Craig Cozart. “We took advantage of them putting us on base free quite a bit. You’ve got to score runs in the midweek if you’re going to win ball games. Beyond that, it was nice to see a bunch of guys get out there on the mound, and we saw some guys do some really good things.”
Spotting NCCU a run in the bottom half of the first, the Panthers responded with a run of their own in the following frame to knot things at one apiece. Senior Daniel Millwee led off the second with a two-bagger before scoring on a JJ Woodard single later in the inning to make it 1-1.
The sixth would be the deciding term for HPU however, scoring six runs on two hits, three walks and a pair of HBPs. Joe Johnson scored the go ahead, and ultimate game-winner, starting the frame off with his third homer of the season to right field. Johnson launched his long ball on a 3-1 count, clearing the fence by nearly 20 feet for his second dinger in as many games.
Woodard loaded the bases later in the inning, reaching first on a hit by pitch after back-to-back walks from Millwee and Travis Holt. Left fielder Sam Zayicek recorded an HBP of his own to turn the score to 3-1, before Holt crossed home on a fielder’s choice RBI from Trent Harris. The third walk of the inning would load the bases for a second time, creating an RBI opportunity for freshman Brady Pearre.
Pearre was up to task in the situation, recording the first hit of his career on a single to right. With the Eagle outfielder misplaying the ball, Pearre’s knock would roll all the way back to the outfield fence, to clear the bases and give the Panthers a 7-1 advantage going into the seventh.
The Purple & White extended its lead in the top half of the eighth, with Harris and Evan Bergman becoming the third and fourth Panther batters to reach first on a hit by pitch. A Pearre walk would load the bases once again, as freshman AJ Holcomb delivered a two-RBI double down the left field line. A wild pitch in the following at bat brought in Pearre from third, as HPU held its 10-1 lead through the remainder of the afternoon.
Using eight different arms on the day, the Panther pitching staff combined for nine strikeouts, while holding the Eagles to just four hits in the contest. Senior righty Jonny Vizcaino led the way with a team-high four Ks, as the Purple & White held NCCU scoreless through the final 26 outs of its night in Durham.
“This was more about getting some guys back out there,” said Cozart. “And giving them some opportunities to see what type of depth we have for next weekend.”
>> Vizcaino faced just one over the minimum during his 2.0 innings of work, with his lone baserunner reaching on a fielding error
>> 11 different Panthers reached first on the night, with Woodard going 2-for-3 with an HBP
>> Senior Conner Dunbar reached in three of his five plate appearances, recording a single and two walks
>> The Panther pitching staff stranded 11 Eagle base runners, holding NC Central to a .138 batting average on the night
>> Woodard is currently on a four-game hitting streak, he’s averaged .429 since the start of the Panthers’ series with Upstate last weekend
COMING UP NEXT
The Panthers will host their second Big South series of 2019 this Friday through Sunday, as Charleston Southern comes to Williard for a three-game weekend series. HPU is on a 10-game winning streak against the Buccaneers, they haven’t lost to CSU since 2012.