HPU Baseball Storms Back, Beats No. 21 Coastal Carolina, 8-5

• High Point scored seven runs in the last two innings, including five in the top of the ninth inning to rally past No. 21 Coastal Carolina, 8-5.
• Senior Hunter Lee was 2-for-4 with three RBI, including the go-ahead two-run single with one out in the top of the ninth inning.
• The Panthers pounded out 15 hits, one shy of a season high, and had four players record multi-hit games.

CONWAY, S.C. – The High Point University baseball team scored seven runs in its final two at-bats to come from behind and shock the No. 21 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, 8-5, on Friday night at Springs Brooks Stadium.

Senior Hunter Lee provided the go-ahead two-run single with the bags packed and one down in the top of the ninth inning, his second and third RBI’s of the game.

“This is a huge team win,” Lee said. “We were frustrated with the Ohio State game (earlier in the day) and we had some struggles early in this game. But we had some guys really step up in key situations – Nick Niarchos got a big hit and Daniel Millwee was just on fire. Luckily we had some guys on (in the ninth), so I could just stick with my approach and keep it up the middle.”

The Panthers (6-7) found themselves trailing 5-1 after seven innings and having just left the bases loaded an in the top of the seventh. Senior Carson Jackson led off the eighth with a single before the game seemingly swung on a would-be double play ball that was booted to put two on with no outs. Junior Nick Niarchos brought home Jackson with a safety squeeze and was followed two batters later by Lee, who stroked a two-out RBI single to cut the deficit to 5-3. Another single and a walk loaded the bases, but HPU could not add on.

Nevertheless, the Panthers knocked around Coastal Carolina (11-4) pitcher Shaddon Peavyhouse (1-2) in the ninth. Redshirt-junior Daniel Millwee doubled to lead off the frame before Jackson reached after being hit by a pitch. After a strikeout, Niarchos chopped an RBi single through the right side to slice the Chants’ lead to 5-4. A walk loaded the bases for Lee, who scolded a 2-2 pitch right back up the box to drive in two and give HPU its first lead of the day at 6-5.

The Purple & White weren’t done adding on, though, as freshman Tanner Wells drove home a run with a two-out infield single and Lee scored on an error to grow the lead to 8-5.

Redshirt-junior Jonny Vizcaino, who had held the Chants at bay for 2.1 innings already, came back out for the ninth and struck out a pair of hitters around a two-out single to secure the comeback triumph. Vizcaino (2-0) allowed only an unearned run in 3.1 innings of relief to earn his second win of the year. He struck out three and walked a pair in relief of senior Jordan Sergent. The Panther starter pitched well, holding CCU to four runs (three earned) on six hits in 5.2 innings. He also doubled his previous career high with six punchouts.

Similar to the game earlier in the day, HPU had to dig itself out of an early hole. The Chanticleers took the lead on a solo homer from Zach Biermann leading off the second and added two more runs with two outs when Kieton Rivers tripled off the glove of senior Austen Zente to make it 3-0. A two-out error an inning later proved costly as Coastal added on an unearned run to and led 4-0.

High Point’s offense picked up steam in the later innings, ultimately cashing in for the first time on a sacrifice fly from Jackson in the last of the sixth to cut the lead to 4-1. A double play nullified a further threat as HPU stranded a man at third.

The Panthers loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh for Millwee, who grounded out to short on the eighth pitch of his at-bat. Coastal then used an error in the last of the seventh to plate its second unearned run of the day, increasing the edge to 5-1. However, the four-run margin would tie for the largest comeback of the season as HPU pounded out seven runs on seven hits in the final two innings for the comeback.

Lee was one of four players to record a multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with a run scored and three RBI. Wells and Jackson collected three hits and an RBI a piece, while Millwee was 2-for-6 with a run scored. Niarchos, getting his first at-bats of the season, was 1-for-3 with two runs driven in.

The Panthers continue the Environmental Staffing Chanticleer Classic on Saturday at 11 a.m. against Ohio State.