HIGH POINT, N.C. – Junior Tony Fortier-Bensen scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning as the High Point University baseball team walked off with a 5-4 win against UNC Asheville in the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon at Williard Stadium.
“Baseball is a tough game sometimes and things did not come easy for us in this game,” head coach Craig Cozart said. “I was pleased with our pitching and defense for the most part today. I was also very proud of the energy we showed in the ninth inning. We got that one run and were able to clinch the series.”
High Point came up to bat in the bottom of the ninth with the score tied at 4-4 after UNC Asheville scored a run in the top of the frame. Fortier-Bensen walked to lead off the inning and moved to third on a single by freshman Chris Clare. With one out and junior Brady Williamson
Senior John Maloney earned the win after allowing the tying run in the top of the ninth, improving to 3-3 on the season. HPU starter Cas Silber pitched three innings and allowed two earned runs on four hits and two walks while striking out two.
Criss suffered the loss for Asheville, dropping to 1-1 on the season. Criss pitched 1/3 of an inning and allowed one earned run on a hit and a walk. The Bulldog start Joe Zayatz pitched eight innings and allowed four earned runs on 10 hits while striking out five.
High Point improves to 30-20 overall and 17-9 in the Big South with the win over UNC Asheville. The 30 regular-season wins by HPU is a new program Div. I record. Asheville drops to 13-39 overall and 4-21 in the Big South with the loss.
The Bulldogs broke through first in the game, scoring two runs in the third on a home run by Hunter Bryant to take a 2-0 lead. With a runner on second and two outs Bryant swung at the first pitch he saw from Silber and hit it over the wall in left for his second home run of the season.
High Point came back to tie the game at 2-2 in the fourth on an RBI single by junior Cody Manzella and a sacrifice fly by junior Tony Fortier-Bensen. Junior Josh Spano led off the inning with a single and was followed by freshman Josh Greene who laced a double that fell just out of the reach of both the Asheville left fielder and center fielder. Manzella then drove in Spano for the first run and Fortier-Bensen drove in Greene to tie the game.
The Panthers took the lead in the sixth, scoring two runs to go ahead, 4-2. Freshman Brenden Rivera pinch-hit to lead off the inning and hit a 2-0 pitch into the Panther’s Den for a solo home run, his second of the season. HPU then added a second run on a sacrifice squeeze by freshman Chris Clare to score Brandenburg from third.
UNC Asheville came back with a run in the seventh on an RBI single by Tommy Houmard to make the score 4-3. The Bulldogs then tied the game at 4-4 in the top of the ninth with an RBI single by Eli Miller.
Manzella finished with three hits and an RBI for the Panthers while Clare had two hits and an RBI. Fortier-Bensen and Rivera each had an RBI and a run scored for HPU in the win.
High Point and UNC Asheville are currently playing in the second game of today’s doubleheader at Williard Stadium.