HPU Baseball Panthers Drop Opener to Dukes, 3-1

• High Point’s pitching staff allowed only two hits in a 3-1 setback to JMU in the season opener on Friday
• Freshman Travis Holt collected a multi-hit game in his collegiate debut, going 2-for-3 with a pair of singles
• Sophomore Drew Daczkowski struck out seven in 4.1 innings, allowing only one hit in the start for HPU

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University baseball team yielded just two hits to visiting James Madison on Friday night, but was unable to muster any offense in a 3-1 setback. HPU out-hit the Dukes 8-2, but ultimately left 11 runners on base.

“Unfortunately we played as poorly as we could offensively, but we pitched at a pretty high level to keep it close,” head coach Craig Cozart said. “Baseball sometimes doesn’t make any sense at all. Nearly every guy that we put on base free through a walk scored. We come up with a bases loaded situation offensively twice and couldn’t drive anybody in. That’s the ball game right there. If you don’t take advantage of bases loaded situations, you’re not going to win many ball games.”

“It’s just game one, so we’ll come out (on Sunday) and figure out a way to win the series.”

Sophomore starter Drew Daczkowski was strong in the opening day start for HPU (0-1), lasting 4.1 innings. After a 1-2-3 first inning, Daczkowski (0-1) walked consecutive hitters to put two on with none out. Michal Morgan then delivered an RBI double to right-center, putting JMU (1-0) up 1-0. A sacrifice fly two batters later from Josh Jones pushed the Dukes advantage to 2-0.

Daczkowski retired 10 of the final 11 hitters he faced for HPU in his outing, striking out six out of nine batters in one stretch. The righthander gave up two runs on a hit and two walks, striking out seven. Senior Rion Murrah came on in relief and fanned three in 2.1 scoreless frames.

HPU had chances all night to strike, but was unable to find the clutch hit. The Panthers stranded 11 runners on base and were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position.

In the last of the second, senior Carson Jackson attempted to score on a would-be passed ball with two outs, but was tagged out at the plate by JMU starting pitcher Colton Harlow. The Panthers loaded the bases in the fourth with nobody out on two errors and a single from Jackson, but an infield fly call turned into a double play when senior Blake Schunk was thrown out at home trying to advance on the play.

HPU packed the bags again in the seventh inning with one away, but Kevin Kelly struck out Schunk and Jackson to extinguish the threat.

The Dukes added an insurance run in the eighth on a walk, single, and a wild pitch, increasing the lead to 3-0. HPU’s lone run came in the last of the ninth when senior Hunter Lee smoked a two-out single up the middle to score sophomore Joe Johnson, who had tripled earlier in the frame.

Freshman Travis Holt was 2-for-3 with at the plate with a pair of singles. Johnson also collected a pair of hits, including HPU’s lone extra-base knock.

Harlow (1-0) picked up the victory for JMU, striking out six while scattering five hits in 5.2 scoreless innings. Kelly was credited with the save with 2.2 innings of relief, allowing a run on two hits with five strikeouts.

After an off day Saturday due to scheduled poor weather, the Panthers and Dukes will complete the series with a doubleheader on Sunday afternoon. First pitch in game one is scheduled for 12 p.m. with the second game to follow 45 minutes after the conclusion of the opener.