CONWAY, S.C. – Cody Manzella‘s first collegiate hit drove in the game-winning run in the 12th inning to lift the High Point University baseball team to a 8-5 win over Coastal Carolina on Friday at Watson Stadium in Conway, S.C. The Panthers scored three runs in the 12th inning to pick up the Big South win.
“That was a tremendous, hard-fought victory,” said head coach Craig Cozart. “We had positive energy the entire game and the belief that we never waivered in the belief that we would win this game. It was so great to see Manzella with his first career hit to drive in the game-winning run. We still have a lot of work to do this weekend with tomorrow’s doubleheader but this is a great win.”
Jaime Schultz got the win, throwing 4-2/3 innings of relief. He allowed one run on four hits with four walks and two strikeouts. He stands at 2-2 on the season.
In the 12th inning Mike Miedzianowski stood at second base with two outs. Manzella sent his first collegiate hit in to centerfield to drive in Miedzianowski and put the Panthers ahead by a run. Sean Wilson followed with a single to score Manzella. Wilson came all the way around to score on the play thanks to a throwing error by Coastal Carolina.
“I was just trying to hit something hard,” Manzella said. “It felt great to get that hit and get the win for the team. I am so excited I don’t really know what to think right now. It will definitely take some time to process.”
With two outs in the ninth inning Daniel Bowman sent a pitch from Schultz down the rightfield line for his third triple of the season. Rich Witten drove in the game-tying run with a bloop single to rightfield. Witten fought off the pitch from Schultz that was in on his hands and it dropped in front of the outfielders and tied the game 5-5.
HPU starter Ryan Retz went 5-1/3 innings, allowing four runs, three earned, on four hits. He had two walks and two strikeouts in the game. He was in line for his sixth straight win before Coastal tied the game in the ninth inning. Joe Goodman threw two scoreless innings of relief. He struck out two while giving up one hit.
Goodman gave up a one-out hit to Tucker Frawley in the eighth inning. The next batter, Ted Blackman, walked and Cozart brought Schultz out of the bullpen. Schultz walked Justin Creel to load the bases but kept Coastal from scoring a run. Keith Picconi failed to get the squeeze bunt past Schultz and the pitched tossed the ball home for a force out. Schultz got a pop up to end the eighth and keep HPU ahead 5-4.
High Point broke a 4-4 tied with an unearned run in the sixth inning off CCU reliever Aaron Burke. Wilson reached on a throwing error by Burke to lead off the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Ryne Rush grounded to short and Coastal Carolina shortstop Brian Pruett threw the ball away allowing Wilson to score. It was the second error of the game for Pruett.
Coastal tied the game 4-4 in the fifth inning. Justin Creel was hit by a pitch to start the inning and snap a streak of 11 in a row retired by Retz. Keith Picconi hit a two-run homer to right field to cut HPU’s lead to 4-3. The Chanticleers tied the game on a throwing error by Medina that allowed Alex Buccilli to score.
Devin Bujnovsky hit a ball deep in the hole at shortstop for a bases-loaded single to drive in the second run of the game for HPU. Josh Spano reached on an error by Pruett and the Panthers added another run to take a 3-1 lead.
The Panthers added a fourth run in the fourth inning, ending Conway’s day early. Willie Medina laced a two-out double to leftfield. Rush followed it with a single to third but CCU third baseman Keith Picconi threw the ball away which allowed Medina to score.
Conway left the game after the error, lasting just 3-2/3 innings. He allowed four runs, two earned, on eight hits with two walks and five strikeouts on 90 pitches. Burke entered the game for CCU and got Retz to ground out to end the fourth inning.
Rush reached base in his first five plate appearances. He went 3-5, reached on an error and on a walk. Medina went 2-5 with two runs scored and his 13th sacrifice bunt of the season.
High Point goes to 23-18 and 8-5 in the Big South while Coastal falls to 24-13 with a 7-3 mark in the Big South.
High Point and Coastal Carolina will play a doubleheader on Saturday to avoid the rain that is in the forecast for Sunday. The first game of the twinbill will get underway at 2 p.m. with the series finale to start at 6 p.m.