CONWAY, S.C. – The High Point University baseball team dropped the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader at Coastal Carolina, 9-7. Ryan Retz hit a grand slam in the top of the seventh inning to tie the game 7-7 but the Chanticleers answered back with two runs in the bottom half of the inning. The rubber game of the Big South series will begin at 6 p.m.
“We didn’t play a good brand of baseball on the defensive end,” said head coach Craig Cozart. “We made too many mistakes and had too many free passes that led to too many runs. It was great that we scored a lot but we didn’t do enough defensively to keep them in check. Now we need to go out an win the series.”
High Point made five errors in the game that led to four unearned runs for the Chanticleers. The Panther pitching staff didn’t walk a batter but they did hit two batters.
Coastal Carolina reliever Woody Nisbet walked Mike Miedzianowski and Cody Manzella to lead off the seventh. The Chanticleers went back to the bullpen and brought Ben Smith in to face the top of the lineup. Sean Wilson worked a one-out walk from Smith to load the bases. Ryne Rush struck out to bring up Retz with two outs. Retz crushed the first pitch from Smith over the leftfield wall to tie the game 7-7. It was the first career grand slam for Retz and his second homer of the season.
The Chanticleers took the lead right back in the bottom half of the inning, scoring two runs credited to HPU reliever Kyle Wigmore. Wigmore gave up hits to Daniel Bowman and Alex Buccilli to lead off the inning and Joe Goodman came in to try and keep the tie intact. Tucker Frawley and pinch-hitter Ted Blackman came up with RBI singles to put CCU back on top 9-7.
Wigmore took the loss, allowing two runs on three hits in 1-1/3 innings. He is 0-2 on the season.
Despite allowing the grand slam to Retz, Smith got the win for Coastal Carolina. He improved to 2-1 on the season after throwing two innings of relief, allowing two runs on one hit with two walks and five strikeouts.
Ryan Connolly earned his ninth save of the season with a perfect ninth inning.
The Panthers jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Wilson was hit by a pitch to lead off the game and Willie Medina drove him home with a double down the leftfield line. Rush singled to put runners on the corners and Retz picked up his 27th RBI of the season with a single to right-centerfield. Devin Bujnovsky drove in the final run of the inning with a groundout to first base.
Coastal Carolina scored two runs in the third inning and three more in the fourth to take a 5-3 lead. In the third inning, Sloan Gilliam reached on an error and HPU starter Matt Armstead hit Brian Pruett with the 3-2 pitch and both baserunners came around to score.
The Chanticleers put up three straight hits to start the fourth inning and an error by Spencer Angelis allowed the first two runs to score. Justin Creel drove in a run with a groundout to Medina at short to extend Coastal’s lead to 5-3.
Two more HPU errors in the fifth inning allowed Coastal Carolina to push the lead to 6-3 and knocked Armstead out of the game. Armstead allowed seven runs, three earned, on eight hits in 4-2/3 innings. He had one strikeout and hit two batters.
Coastal Carolina starter Tyler Herb allowed three runs in the first inning before settling in. He went six innings, allowing three runs on five hits with three walks and five strikeouts. He gave up just two hits after the first inning.
Retz went 2-4 in the game with five RBI and a run scored. Medina was 1-3 with two walks and two runs scored.