HIGH POINT, N.C. – High Point University increases its winning streak to seven straight this Wednesday, dropping Wake Forest 7-5 on a walk-off dinger from freshman AJ Holcomb. the Panthers’ contest with the Demon Deacons was their fifth in the past five days, as the side has gone a perfect 5-0 since Saturday.
“The way that we’ve been playing, I’m not surprised,” said Head Coach Craig Cozart. “What we did over the past five days has been amazing. To go 5-0 on five consecutive days, coming off the series sweep of Asheville, going on the road to beat a tough Elon team, and then to walk-off against Wake Forest is just the icing on the cake so to speak. What I challenged our guys with, was that baseball is not a game where you can kind of turn things on and off. Just because we’re headed into exams, doesn’t mean that we can take the foot off the gas, and I’m really proud of their effort.”
Stranding a pair of base runners in the first three innings, the Purple & White fell behind early in their midweek contest, spotting Wake Forest four runs before the start of the fourth inning. The Panthers cut their deficit in half during the bottom of inning number four on a trio of knocks from Joe Johnson, AJ Holcomb and Sam Zayicek.
Johnson started off the frame on a leadoff single, before Holcomb delivered his second knock of the night with a double down the left field line. Zayicek traded places with Holcomb while driving in Johnson, collecting a pair of RBI on a double to left.
Both sides went scoreless until the seventh inning, with righty reliever Jonny Vizcaino providing three shutout innings of work. Vizcaino sprayed two hits and walk over his appearance while striking out five Demon Deacon batters. He faced three over the minimum while keeping the Panthers in striking range, with the home club grabbing the go ahead in the seventh.
After senior JJ Woodard stroked a leadoff double to start the frame, the Purple & White tallied back-to-back groundouts before HPU started a three-hit, three-run rally. Holt’s third knock of the afternoon put runners on the corners for Johnson, who sent a single to left field to score Woodard. Catcher Daniel Millwee collected the tying RBI on his double to left, as a wild pitch from the Wake Forest pitcher drove in the go ahead.
“They were pretty disciplined, laying off some quality breaking balls,” said Cozart, in regards to his team’s offensive performance. “We saw all three of Wake Forest’s weekend starters tonight. They don’t play this weekend, just like us, and they threw their weekend rotation at us. I think that is makes what our guys did even more impressive. Holt was tremendous, Millwee got the big hit to get things going in the ninth, and then Holcomb going 4-for-5 with the walk-off home run is pretty special. He sat on a breaking ball right there. The pitcher left a slider on the plate and he crushed it. It was a lot of fun. Those are the kind of ball games you live for, and we had good fan support tonight and they were definitely entertained.”
Despite registering six Ks, right-hander Grey Lyttle surrendered a home run in the eighth to even the score at 5-5, but shut out the Demon Deacons in the ninth to give High Point the walk-off opportunity in the final frame of the night.
With Millwee getting on base for the second time with a single to right, freshman AJ Holcomb stepped into the box with two outs on the board, and extra innings all but guaranteed. The first-year Panther had other plans however, scorching a two-run walk-off shot over the left field wall to end the game 7-5 in favor of HPU. Holcomb’s two-ran smash is the third of his young career in Purple & White, and secured his team’s eighth straight win inside Williard Stadium.
>> Holcomb finished with a career-high four knocks, falling a triple shy of the cycle; he’s gone 7-for-12 (.583) in his last three appearances
>> Holt extended his hitting streak to seven with his three hits, he’s averaged .529 since April 20th
>> Johnson, Millwee and Zayicek had two hits apiece with the latter two each collecting a double apiece
>> Millwee extended his current on base streak to 29 straight games, he’s reached in all but one contest in 2019
COMING UP NEXT
The Panthers have some time off before getting back to work against Gardner-Webb. HPU will dive back into conference play against the Bulldogs on May 10th, competing in their final home series of the 2019 regular season.