HPU Baseball Battles Back For 6-5 Win At Liberty

• High Point scored four unanswered runs to come from behind for a 6-5 road win at Liberty on Thursday.
• Sophomore Josh Greene tied the game at 5-5 with a two-run triple in the seventh inning.
• Sophomore Chris Clare went 3-4 with a walk, a double, two RBI and two runs scored for the Panthers.

LYNCHBURG, Va. – The High Point University baseball team scored four unanswered runs to come-from-behind for a 6-5 win at Liberty on Thursday night in Lynchburg, Va. Sophomore Chris Clare accounted for four of HPU’s six runs with two RBI and two runs scored.

“This was the type of win that we have been looking for all season,” head coach Craig Cozart said. “To go down early then fight back and win the game late was awesome. The top of our lineup was very competitive. Hats off to our bullpen too, they shut down Liberty’s bats and allowed us to come back and win the game. Now we need to go into tomorrow’s game with the same mentality and secure the series.”

High Point trailed, 5-2, heading into the seventh inning before scoring three runs in the seventh to tie the game and a run in the eighth to take the lead. Senior Dane McDermott scored the Panthers’ first run in the seventh on an RBI single by Clare after reaching on a bunt single. After a walk by senior Josh Spano, sophomore Josh Greene ripped a triple to the fence in right to score both Clare and Spano and tie the game.

The Panthers took the lead one inning later as senior Cody Manzella led off the inning with a triple and came home for the go-ahead run on a balk by Liberty pitcher Alex Close.

Redshirt-junior Joe Goodman struck out the side in the ninth to secure the win for HPU, picking up his sixth save of the season.

Junior Michael Hennessey earned the win for High Point after pitching two scoreless innings and striking out four. Hennessey improved to 2-4 on the season with the win.

Close took the loss for Liberty, dropping to 1-2 in 2015. Close pitched 1-1/3 innings and allowed one earned run on one hit while striking out three.

High Point improves to 26-23 overall and 13-9 in the Big South on the season. The win clinches HPU’s third-straight season with a winning record in conference play. Liberty drops to 32-20 overall and 15-7 in the conference with the loss.

The Flames got on the board first with a run in the second inning thanks to two-out hitting. Will Shepherd got LU’s first hit of the night with a two-out double and Nick Paxton hit an RBI single to score the Liberty right fielder.

An error by freshman Carson Jackson came back to haunt the Panthers in the third as Liberty scored three unearned runs to take a 4-0 lead. The HPU first baseman let a ground ball get under his glove with two outs and the Flames took advantage with a walk and a three-run home run by Close.

High Point came back with two runs of its own in the top of the fourth inning to cut the Flames lead in half. Senior Brady Williamson led off with a single and came home from first on a double by Clare. A bunt single by Spano and a slow roller to third by Greene brought home Clare to make the score 4-2.

Liberty answered the Panther runs with a leadoff home run by Shepherd in the bottom of the fourth.

The Panthers scored five earned runs off Liberty starter Jared Lyons, the most earned runs given up by the left-hander this season. Clare finished 3-4 at the plate with a walk, a double, two RBI and two runs scored while Greene went 2-5 with a triple and three RBI.

The High Point bullpen pitched 5-2/3 innings of scoreless relief after entering the game in the fourth for senior John McGillicuddy. Junior Tyler Britton, Hennessey and Goodman combined to give up just two hits and one walk while striking out nine.

High Point will try and clinch its sixth conference series of the season when the Panthers and Flames meet in the second game of their three-game series on Friday, May 15, at 7 p.m., in Liberty Baseball Stadium. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3.