HPU baseball drops heartbreaker to Winthrop, 14-13

• High Point was eliminated from the Big South Baseball Championship with a 114-13 loss to top-seeded Winthrop on Saturday.
• The Panthers led, 13-8, but allowed six runs in the bottom of the ninth.
• HPU set a new program Div. I record with seven home runs in the contest, two each by senior Josh Greene and junior Zack Gray.

LEXINGTON, S.C. – The High Point University baseball team saw its season come to a close with a heartbreaking 14-13 loss to top-seeded Winthrop in the Big South Baseball tournament on Saturday afternoon in Lexington, S.C.

High Point led 13-8 entering the bottom of the ninth inning but the Eagles rallied for six runs to earn the walk-off victory. Hunter Lipscomb hit a three-run home run and Babe Thomas followed with a solo shot for Winthrop then with two outs and two on, Matthew Mulkey hit a fly ball off senior Jeremy Johnson that kept carrying and hit off the wall in center for a game-winning double.

Junior Cooper Jeffers suffered the loss for HPU after allowing the tying and go-ahead runners to reach base while recording one out in the ninth. He drops to 1-3 for the season with the loss.

Zach Peek allowed one hit and struck out one in 1-2/3 scoreless innings of relief to earn the win for Winthrop, improving his record to 5-1 for the season.

High Point finishes the season with a 30-23 record while Winthrop improves to 33-22 and advances on to the Big South Semifinals.

“This was a heartbreaking way to end the season,” head coach Craig Cozart said. “The guys really played their guts out today. It is a terrible shame that the decision was made to play a conference tournament game on a high school field and a routine fly ball essentially decided who won and lost. I feel like our guys were robbed on a quality experience due to that decision. We had a great season and I am proud of my guys. I continue to be optimistic about the future of HPU baseball.”

The Panthers and Eagles combined to hit a conference tournament record 13 home runs in the game. High Point set a new program Div. I record with seven home runs on the day including two each from senior Josh Greene and junior Zach Gray. Redshirt-senior Tim Mansfield and juniors Blake Schunk and Austen Zente also went yard on the day for HPU. The previous High Point Div. I record for home runs in a game was five against Radford on April 18, 2010.

The Panthers jumped on Winthrop early with two runs in the top of the first to take a 2-0 lead over the top seed. Greene started the scoring with a solo home run to straightaway center, his sixth of the season. After a double by Schunk, junior Carson Jackson hit an RBI single to score the third baseman.

One inning later, High Point doubled its lead to on a two-run home run off the bat of Gray. The Panther first baseman turned on a 1-1 pitch and easily cleared the wall in right for his second home run of the season.

Schunk continued to add to the Panthers’ home run total with a solo shot to leadoff the third, pushing HPU’s lead to 5-0. Schunk swung at the first pitch he saw and hit it well over the wall in right-center for his first home run of the season.

The Panthers added two more home runs to their total in the fourth as Gray hit his second of the game to leadoff the inning and Mansfield hit a two-run home run, his second of the season, to push the lead to 8-0.

Winthrop scored three in the fourth on a Thomas home run and four in the fifth on home runs by Mulkey and Lipscomb to pull back within one of the Panthers at 8-7 after five innings.

Zente hit High Point’s sixth home run of the game and their third to lead off an inning with a solo shot in the sixth, his 10th of the season. The outfielder fouled off three-straight balls before hitting a 3-2 pitch out for his 10th home run of the season.

High Point scored four times in the eighth to push its advantage to 13-7. Greene drove in the first two runs with his second home run of the contest and his seventh of the season. Mansfield singled to leadoff the inning and came home on the Greene four-bagger. HPU scored two more runs in the inning as Jackson scored on a throwing error after stealing third and Woodard drove in Lee with an RBI single.

Greene finished 2-5 with two home runs, three RBI and two runs scored in his final game with the Panthers. Six HPU players recorded multiple hits in the contest. Zente went 3-6 from the leadoff spot with a home run, one RBI and two runs scored. Both Mansfield and Schunk ended the day 2-6 at the plate with two runs scored while at the bottom of the order, Woodard finished 2-3 with an RBI and Gray went 2-5 with two home runs, three RBI and two runs scored.