HPU baseball falls to UNCG in season opener, 9-3

• High Point fell to UNCG by a score of 9-3 at Williard Stadium in the season opener on Friday.
• Sophomore Hunter Lee went 3-4 with three doubles and a walk for the Panthers.
• HPU’s record in season openers drops to 5-12 in the Div. I era with the loss.

HIGH POINT, N.C. – A six-run third inning sunk the High Point University baseball team as it dropped its season opener to UNCG by a score of 9-3 on Friday night at Williard Stadium. Sophomore Hunter Lee enjoyed a strong start to the season, going 3-4 with three doubles for HPU.

“Unfortunately this game came down to a six-run third,” head coach Craig Cozart said. “Our offense is not built to play that kind of game. On the mound, we were not competitive with two outs. We gave up two-out walks and two-out hits and that was the story of the night. When you do that and leave 12 guys on base that’s how you get beat 9-3. This is just game one so we need to make sure we focus on playing a better brand of baseball tomorrow.”

Redshirt-senior Scot Hoffman started on the mound for High Point and took the loss after going 2-2/3 innings and allowing six earned runs on six hits and four walks with two strikeouts.

UNCG reliever Andrew Wentz got the win for the Navy and Gold after pitching 4-1/3 innings of relief and allowing just one earned run on four hits and a walk with five strikeouts. Hunter Smith started for UNCG and pitched 4-2/3 innings, giving up two runs, one earned, on five hits and three walks with three strikeouts.

Lee posted his second-career three-hit game with three doubles to go along with a walk and a run scored in the season opener. Senior Dominic Fazio was the only other HPU hitter to record multiple hits, also going 3-4 with an RBI and a run scored.

The Spartans broke open the game with a six-run, two-out rally in the third inning. UNCG strung together six-straight hits. Five Navy and Gold hitters picked up RBI, including Ryne Sigmon, who hit a two-run single, and Dillon Stewart, who hit an RBI double.

After UNCG scored two more runs in the top of the fourth inning, the Panthers answered back with two of their own in the bottom of the frame. Sophomore Austen Zente hit a one-out single for his first collegiate hit then came around to score on an RBI double of the left field line by Fazio. The HPU designated hitter then scored on an error by the Spartan first baseman for the second run of the inning.

Lee got another run back for the High Point in the sixth inning when he recorded his third double of the day and came home on a wild pitch by Wantz three batters later, making the score 8-3.

UNCG added a run in the eighth inning on a passed ball by freshman catcher JJ Woodard to make the final score 9-3.

The loss drops HPU’s record on opening days to just 5-12 since joining Div. I in 2000. The Panthers are now 4-3 in season openers at Williard Stadium.

High Point will try and even the three-game weekend series at a game apiece when the two teams meet at UNCG Baseball Stadium in Greensboro, N.C., on Saturday, Feb. 20. First pitch is set for 2 p.m.