CHARLESTON, S.C. – The High Point University baseball team came from behind to beat George Mason, 8-6, for its first win of the season on Saturday at The Citadel Memorial Challenge in Charleston, S.C. Senior Ryan Retz went 3-for-4 from the plate with one RBI and two runs scored and hit his first home run of the season.
Redshirt-junior Zach Haile pitched 4-1/3 innings out of the bullpen to get the win. In his first action for High Point since March 7, 2012, Haile struck out seven batters while allowing just two runs on five hits.
“It was really great to get the first win of the season today,” head coach Craig Cozart said. “The guys came out with a totally different energy. We got down early, but offensively we had an outstanding approach all day. Haile was big for us, he came in and dominated in the middle innings. His performance gave us a chance to get some things done offensively and pick up the win. It was by no means easy today but I am proud of our guys’ effort.”
George Mason took an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, but HPU got a run right back in the top of the second with a bases-loaded walk by senior Willie Medina. Sophomore Josh Spano led off the frame with a double off the bottom of the left-center wall and came around to score on the walk by Medina.
After George Mason pushed the lead to 3-1 with a run in the bottom of the third inning, the Panthers pulled back within one again in the top of the fourth inning when senior Sean Wilson was driven in with an RBI single by sophomore Cody Manzella to make it 3-2. Wilson hit a line drive into the right-center gap which rolled to the wall for a one-out triple. Manzella then hit a hard line drive at the Patriots’ second basemen to drive in Wilson on the next pitch.
GMU picked up a run in the bottom of the fourth to go ahead 4-2 and held that lead until the top of the sixth when High Point pulled in front for good with four runs to take a 6-4 lead. Retz opened the scoring for the Panthers with a solo home run over the left-center field wall. Wilson followed with a single to right and advanced to third on a fielder’s choice and wild pitch before scoring on an infield single by junior Kyle Brandenburg, tying the game at 4-4.
The Patriots made a pitching change hoping to stem the High Point momentum but HPU quickly loaded the bases as Medina singled and took second on a throw to third and Bujnovsky was hit by a pitch. Freshman Brett Gemmell was then called on to pinch hit for sophomore Spencer Angelis and hit an opposite-field single to plate two runs, making the score 6-4. It was the second pinch-hit in as many games for the freshman.
High Point added a run in the top of the seventh and another in the top of the ninth to extend the lead to 8-4. Retz scored HPU’s run in the seventh after being hit by a pitch. He moved to second on a bunt single by Wilson then came around to score on a single by Manzella who also drove in the run in the ninth with a sacrifice fly to plate Spano.
George Mason scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth on a home run to left by Nick Allen to pull within two runs but sophomore Joe Goodman came in and got the final two outs of the contest for his first save of the season. The sophomore struck out the final batter to end the game. As a team, HPU struck out 11 batters in the contest.
Redshirt-junior Sean Townsley got the start for the Panthers and went 3-2/3 innings, allowing four earned runs on three hits and four walks while striking out three.
George Mason starter Jared Gaynor was charged with the loss after going 5-2/3 innings and allowing five earned runs on seven hits and two walks. Gaynor also finished with three strikeouts in the game.
Manzella went 2-for-4 from the plate on the day and led HPU with three RBI. Spano and Wilson both had two hits and two runs scored in the game.
High Point moves to 1-1 on the season while George Mason falls to 0-2.
The Panthers will play their third and final game at The Citadel Memorial Challenge in Charleston, S.C., on Sunday at 1:30 p.m., against host The Citadel.