HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University baseball team scored four times in the final three innings to pick up a 5-3 win over Liberty on Friday night in the second game of a day-night doubleheader at Williard Stadium. Senior Ryan Retz went 2-4 in the game and hit his second home run of the season.
“It was a heartbreaking loss in the first game, but it spoke volumes about the toughness and character of this team the way we came back and fought hard for a win in the second game,” head coach Craig Cozart said. “This was not an easy game tonight. Mike Krumm and Michael Heller were great out of the bullpen. We got pretty good contributions up and down the line offensively and I was glad to see Retz get one on the barrel. Now the next step is figuring out a way to play good clean baseball tomorrow and win this series.”
HPU scored twice in the sixth, once in the seventh and once in the eighth to overcome a 3-1 deficit and pick up the win, evening the three-game conference series at one game apiece. The High Point bullpen shut down Liberty’s offense late, holding the Flames to just two hits and a walk in the final four innings.
The Panthers got on the board in the first inning with a run on a groundout by sophomore Spencer Angelis. Senior Sean Wilson doubled into the right center gap with one out and advanced to third on a single by Josh Spano before scoring on the groundout to second by Angelis.
Liberty scored all three of its runs in the top of the fourth inning to take a 3-1 lead. The Flames tied the game with a sacrifice fly by Alex Close then took a two-run lead on a bases-loaded double down the left field line by Dalton Sype.
Down two, High Point scored twice in the sixth inning to tie the game at 3-3. Spano and senior Ryan Retz each got on with singles and advanced to second and third on a wild pitch. Freshman Brett Gemmell drove in the first Panther run with a grounder to short and graduate student Adam Barry followed with a double to the wall in left center to score Retz.
The Panthers pulled back into the lead in the following inning as Brandenburg doubled to the base of the left field wall to start the inning and came around to score on a suicide squeeze. Brandenburg was bunted to third by senior Willie Medina then bunted home by senior Scott Glover.
Retz added an insurance run for the Panthers in the seventh run with his second home run of the season to put HPU ahead, 5-3. The senior got a hold of a 1-2 slider and hammered it over the left field wall to put High Point in front by two runs.
Liberty managed to get the go-ahead run on base in the top of the ninth inning when it loaded the bases with no outs, but a heads up play by Retz helped HPU get out of the jam as the senior made a diving grab on a line drive to right then jumped up and doubled up Sype at first for the first two outs of the frame. Redshirt-junior Malcolm Clapsaddle then got Bryan Aanderud to fly out to center to end the game.
Retz finished the game with an RBI and two runs scored for HPU. Spano broke out of his recent slump by going 3-4 at the plate with a run scored and Barry finished 2-4 with one RBI.
Redshirt-junior Michael Heller picked up his first HPU win with 1-2/3 innings of scoreless relief work. Heller allowed two hits and struck out two batters. Clapsaddle got the save for High Point with a scoreless ninth inning. Redshirt-junior Sean Townsley got the start for High Point and lasted five innings, allowing three runs on five hits and three walks. The left hander matched his career high with seven strikeouts in the contest.
Brooks Roy started for Liberty and took the loss for the Flames. Roy pitched six innings and allowed four runs on nine hits while striking out three. Roy had allowed just two extra-base hits in his first five starts, but he surrendered four to the Panthers on Friday.
The game marked High Point’s first win in conference play this season and the first loss by Liberty in Big South action. HPU is now 11-12 overall and 1-4 in the Big South while Liberty is 15-8 and 4-1 in the Big South.
High Point and Liberty will return to Williard Stadium on Saturday, March 23, at 6 p.m., for the third and final game of their three-game series.