HIGH POINT, N.C. – Junior outfielder Ryan Retz singled in a run in the 11th inning to give the High Point University baseball team a walk-off win over Mercer on Saturday at Williard Stadium. Senior first baseman Sal Pezzino scored the game-winning run to give the Panthers the 4-3 victory.
“I am very proud of our guys today,” said head coach Craig Cozart. “This was the best all-around team effort I have seen this season. Our energy was tremendous and it kept us relaxed during some very tense moments in the game. Matt Armstead was big time for us on the mound and the bullpen was outstanding. Offensively, we kept grinding and eventually it paid off. Sal Pezzino and Ryan Retz came up big for us.”
Pezzino led off the 11th inning with a single through the right side. Ryne Rush hit a groundball deep in the hole at shortstop but Mercer’s Evan Boyd was able to make a play on it and throw to second base. Pezzino was safe at second because D.J. Hicks dropped the ball bringing Retz to the plate with two on and no outs. Retz singled down the leftfield line just over the head of the Bears’ third baseman allowing Pezzino to score the game-winning run.
“I was just looking for something I could hit hard up the middle,” Retz said. “I was a little out in front of it but I was able to get it down the line. The whole team was emotionally involved the entire game. We made big plays all game and I had no doubts we could come back and get the win.”
Redshirt-sophomore Jaime Schultz pitched 1-1/3 innings for his first win of the season. He evens his record for the year at 1-1 after taking the extra-inning loss to Elon on Wednesday. He walked one and struck out two in the win. Schultz entered the game in the 10th innings with two runners on to face pinch-hitter Jamie McMillan and got a groundball to second base to end the threat.
Dawson Brown took the loss for Mercer, his first of the season, to bring his record to 1-1. He allowed one run on two hits in one inning of relief.
Junior Devin Bujnovsky tied the game in the ninth inning with a sacrifice fly to score Rush. The fly ball also moved Retz to third base with just one out but Mercer reliever David Teasley struck out got the final two outs of the inning to send the game to extra innings tied 3-3.
Both starting pitchers gave their team a chance to win the game. Armstead went 7-2/3 innings allowing three runs on six hits with two walks and four strikeouts in his first start of the season. For Mercer, Brandon Barker went eight innings, allowing three runs on four hits with one walk and two strikeouts.
Freshman Stephen Wytiaz doubled to left centerfield with two outs in the second inning to drive home Retz and the put the Panthers on top 1-0. It was the first collegiate hit for Wytiaz who got the start as the designated hitter.
Mercer evened the game in the sixth inning. Nate Moorehouse led off the inning with a bunt single to third base and scored on a triple down the right field line from centerfielder Derrick Workman. Logan Gaines worked a two-out walk from Armstead to put runners on the corners with designated hitter Nick Backlund coming to the plate. Backlund hit one to the warning track but Bujnovsky made the catch at the wall to end the inning.
Travis Benn took Armstead’s first pitch of the seventh inning over the leftfield wall to give the Bears a 2-1 lead. Gaines extended Mercer’s lead to 3-1 with an RBI single in the eighth inning off HPU reliever Kyle Wigmore.
Junior Willie Medina picked up his first RBI of the season with a groundout to second in the eighth inning that scored Dane McDermott.
Retz went 3-5 in the game with an RBI and a run scored. He extended his hit streak to a career-best nine games.
High Point (7-5) will go for the series win over Mercer (10-2) on Sunday. First pitch at Williard Stadium is scheduled for 1 p.m. Junior Jacob Newberry will pitch for High Point still looking for his first win of the season.