ROCK HILL, S.C. – Junior Jared Avidon pitched a complete-game shutout to lead the High Point University baseball team to a crucial Big South Conference win over Winthrop on Friday in Rock Hill, S.C. HPU beat the Eagles, 7-0, to even the series.
“From the minute we got to the ballpark today there was no doubt we would come away with a win,” said head coach Craig Cozart. “It was a tremendous game offensively. We battled at the plate all night. Jared Avidon gave us one of the most impressive outings I have seen in my 16 years of coaching. Our work isn’t done and we need to come out tomorrow and have the same type of game.”
Avidon went the distance for the first time in his collegiate career. The right-hander allowed nine hits but kept the Eagles from scoring with the help of some great defensive plays, including a 6-3 double play to end the game. He struck out two batters in the game and did not issue a walk. It is the second win of the season for Avidon.
High Point broke the game open with a four-run eighth inning. Ryne Rush led off the inning with a solo homer to dead-center field. Rush blasted his third home run of the season off Winthrop relief pitcher Steven Howell. Josh Spano tripled to the right-center field gap and scored on a single by Sean Wilson. Winthrop went to the bullpen again, bringing in Mitchell Knox to face Devin Bujnovsky. Bujnovsky, Ryan Retz and Mike Miedzianowski had three straight singles to make it a 7-0 game.
Willie Medina led off the game with a single through the right side. The shortstop stole second base and moved to third on a basehit by Dane McDermott. Medina scored the first run of the game on a groundout by Rush.
Spano smoked a single to left field to lead off the sixth inning. Wilson followed with a double to right-center field that was just out of the reach of Winthrop center fielder TJ Olesczuk. With two runners in scoring position, Bujnovsky singled up the middle to extend High Point’s lead to 3-0.
Winthrop threatened in the sixth inning but Avidon was able to work out of trouble and keep the Eagles from scoring. TJ Olesczuk singled to center field but slid past the second base bag trying to stretch it in to a double. Retz was there to apply the tag for the second out of the inning. The next two Winthrop batters singled but Avidon got Justin Hopper to groundout to end the threat.
Eric Ruth took the loss for Winthrop. He allowed three runs on eight hits in 6-2/3 innings. He walked two, including an intentional walk to Medina, and struck out three. Ruth finished the season with a 3-3 record.
Bujnovsky went 3-4 with two RBI and a run scored and Spano went 2-5 with two runs scored. Medina, Rush and Wilson all had two hits each.
The Panthers improved to 25-29 (10-13 Big South) and Winthrop fell to 17-34 (9-13 Big South).
High Point and Winthrop will play the rubber game on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Winthrop Ballpark. The winner of the game will secure the final spot in Big South Conference Tournament. Redshirt-sophomore Jaime Schultz will pitch for High Point. Winthrop has not announced a starting pitcher.