Home runs power HPU baseball comeback in 6-5 win over NJIT

• High Point scored five unanswered runs to battle back from down 5-1 and pick up the 6-5 win, clinching the series against NJIT
• All six Panther runs came by way of four home runs, the most in a game for HPU since 2010 and one shy of the program Div. I single-game record.
• Junior Carson Jackson had two of High Point’s four home runs and also pitched a scoreless ninth for the save.

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University baseball team used the long ball to battle back for a 6-5 win over NJIT on Sunday at Williard Stadium. The win over the Highlanders gave HPU its first season-opening series win since 2012.

“We had to really gut this win at today,” head coach Criag Cozart said. “NJIT came out swinging the bats well and they put us in an early hole. Drew Daczkowski was pitching well but everything they hit was finding a whole. The first half of the game was ugly but our guys stayed with it and showed great mentality. Carson Jackson hit two balls on the barrel that probably travelled a combined 900 feet and then Austen Zente had a great home run to put us in front. It was great to figure out a way to win the game and series.”

Down 5-1 in the sixth inning, High Point scored five-straight runs over the next three innings culminating with a two-run home run from junior Austen Zente in the bottom of the eighth inning to put the Panthers in front, 6-5.

The four home runs by the Panthers are the most in a single game by HPU since 2010 and one shy of the High Point Div. I single-game record of five. Jackson is the 15th different Panther player to record a multi-HR game in the Div. I era and the first since Josh Spano hit two out against Winthrop in April of 2015.

Junior Carson Jackson went 2-4 on the day with two solo home runs, his second and third of the season. He also pitched a scoreless ninth with one strikeout to earn his first save of the season and the third of his career. Zente finished 2-3 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored and junior Jordan Sergent went 1-4 with a home run, two RBI and one run scored.

Freshman Joe Johnson earned his first collegiate win with two innings of scoreless relief in which he allowed just one hit while striking out two. Fellow freshman Drew Daczkowski got the start and lasted 2-1/3 innings, allowing four runs, two earned, on six hits and three walks.

Chris Gibbons took the loss for NJIT after allowing two earned runs on one hit in one-third of an inning. Tyler Stafflinger was in line for the win after pitching 5-1/3 innings and allowing three earned runs on three hits while striking out three in his first collegiate start.

The Purple & White improve to 2-1 on the season with its first season-opening series win since 2012. NJIT falls to 1-2 to start the 2017 campaign.

High Point fell behind 4-0 after three innings as the Highlanders managed to take advantage of HPU miscues in the opening frames. The first run was scored on a double steal after a passed ball and another came on an error after a single to left.

Jackson got HPU on the board in the bottom of the fifth with his second home run of the weekend. The junior led off the Panther half of the frame and swung at the first pitch he saw, blasting it over the wall in left.

After NJIT pushed its lead back to four with a run in the top of the sixth, High Point answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning on a two-run shot from Sergent. The junior hit a 1-0 pitch from Stafflinger to the base of the scoreboard in right to pull HPU back within two.

The Purple & White continued to trim the lead in the following inning on Jackson’s second solo home run of the day. In the eighth inning, Zente worked the count full against Gibbons before launching the go-ahead home run over the wall in left for his first home run of the season and the fourth of his career.

High Point hits the road for the first time this season on Tuesday, Feb. 21 when the team will travel to Davidson, N.C., to face off with the Wildcats of Davidson College. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. It is the first of four-straight road games for the Panthers.