HPU Baseball Rallies Late for an 8-5 Win at UNC Asheville

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The High Point University baseball team scored three times in the top of the ninth to pick up an 8-5 win over UNC Asheville in the first game of a three-game series on Saturday afternoon in Asheville, N.C. Sophomore Josh Spano drove in the winning runs with an RBI single in the ninth.

“We had a hard time getting going today but we put up some big numbers at the end of the game and that will typically win you ballgames,” head coach Craig Cozart said. “When you outscore your opponent in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings that usually gives you a good result. I am really proud of our guys’ effort today but tomorrow is not going to be any easier. We have to come back and be ready to roll.”

With the scored tied 5-5 heading into the ninth, HPU put its first two base runners on with a walk by sophomore Dane McDermott and a single by senior Willie Medina. The runners moved up to second and third on a sacrifice bunt then came in to score on the single by Spano. Spano moved to third on a single by sophomore Spencer Angelis and a wild pitch then came in on a sacrifice fly by senior Ryan Retz.

Asheville managed to load the bases with no outs in the bottom of the ninth but sophomore Joe Goodman got a strikeout and redshirt-junior Sean Townsley induced a pop up to second before striking out Hunter Bryant for the final out of the game.

Junior John Maloney picked up the win for High Point after pitching one inning in relief and allowing one run on one hit while striking out one. Townsley picked up his first career save for the Panthers.

Billy Creighton took the loss for the Bulldogs after giving up three runs on four hits and a walk in 1-2/3 innings of work.

The win by High Point was its first when trailing after six innings this season. The Panthers improve to 20-20 overall and 7-6 in the Big South. UNC Asheville drops to 13-27 overall and 2-11 in the conference with the loss.

Asheville jumped out to a 2-0 lead after six innings thanks to an RBI single by Phillip Treadway in the second and an RBI single by Creighton in the sixth.

High Point battled back to tie the game in the top of the seventh, scoring two run on an RBI double by redshirt-senior Sean Wilson. Retz led off the inning with a walk then moved to second on a single by graduate student Adam Barry. A sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third for Wilson who hit a double down the right field line to tie the game.

The Bulldogs came right back in the bottom of the seventh, scoring two runs to go back ahead, 4-2. Eli Miller led off the bottom of the seventh with a home run to right field and Ian Graham hit a two-out RBI single to put Asheville up by two runs.

HPU took the lead for the first time in the bottom of the eighth inning with three runs to jump ahead by a score of 5-4. The Panthers loaded the bases with one out after back-to-back singles by Spano and Angelis and a walk to Retz. After Spano was called out at home on a fielder’s choice, sophomore Cody Manzella ripped a two-out single to left, scoring both Angelis and Retz to tie the game. Asheville called in Creighton to try and cut down the rally but a wild pitch allowed Barry to score from third, putting High Point ahead 5-4.

Asheville tied the game once again in the bottom of the eighth with a solo home run by Treadway, knotting the game up at 5-5.

Manzella finished the game 3-3 at the plate with two RBI. Angelis also finished with three hits, going 3-5 with a run scored. Spano finished 2-4 with two RBI and Medina went 2-5 on the day with a run scored.

High Point and UNC Asheville will meet once again on Sunday, April 21, at 1 p.m., in the second game of its three-game series. The Panthers will try and clinch their second-straight Big South series with a win over Asheville.