HPU Baseball Panthers Pitch First Shutout, Roll to 12-0 Victory

• Nine different Panthers recorded at least one hit, led by four players who posted multi-hit games. Additionally, nine different players scored at least one run.
• Sophomore Drew Daczkowski and junior Matt Hodges combined to toss HPU’s first shutout of the season, limiting Winthrop to four hits.
• High Point hit a season-high four home runs, including the first of the season for both senior Blake Schunk and junior Conner Dunbar.

HIGH POINT, N.C. – A seven-run fifth inning and a lights-out performance on the mound vaulted the High Point University baseball team to a 12-0 romp over Winthrop on Friday evening at Williard Stadium. It marks the first shutout of the campaign for the Panthers, who have won the first two games of the series against the league’s preseason favorite.

“Tonight was about as complete a baseball game as you can play,” head coach Craig Cozart said. “We played errorless baseball and pitched extremely well with Drew Daczkowski giving us a quality start. Offensively, we were special and on the attack for nine innings. It’s been a great two games thus far, and we’re in a position to sweep, so I hope we take advantage of it.”

The fireworks started fast for HPU (14-12, 6-2) with senior Austen Zente leading off the home half of the first with a solo homer to left field. It was the start of a perfect night for Zente, who reached all five times at the dish and collected three hits, including his team-best fourth dinger. Senior Blake Schunk clocked his first home run of the season, a two-run shot in the second inning, to put HPU’s advantage at 3-0.

High Point broke the game open with its largest inning of the year, scoring seven times in the fifth inning. Winthrop (12-15, 6-2) committed three errors in the frame, threw four wild pitches, had a passed ball and a balk. Zente started the outburst by singling, moving to second on a wild pitch, reaching third on an error and scoring on another wild pitch. Senior Hunter Lee extended his hitting streak to a career-best 18 games with an RBI single to right field, making it 5-0.

Lee would later score on a balk to make it 6-0 before HPU plated another run when Eagle starter Zach Peek (2-2) dropped the throw back from the catcher and senior Carson Jackson sprinted home on the error. A two-out hit by pitch and error extended the inning for junior Conner Dunbar, who took advantage by lacing a three-run homer over the left field wall for his first career round-tripper.

The 10-0 advantage was more than enough for sophomore Drew Daczkowski, who authored his best start of the season. Daczkowski (2-2) retired the first six he faced before facing a bit of trouble in the third. With runners at second and third and nobody out, Daczkowski coaxed a fielder’s choice that eliminated the lead runner before striking out two batters around a hit batter to hold Winthrop off the board.

Daczkowski induced a double play in the fifth inning before seeing his day come to an end following a two-out walk in the sixth. His longest start of the season lasted 5.2 frames as he struck out six, walked two and only allowed three base hits. Junior Matt Hodges came in to extinguish the rally and retired 10 of the 11 hitters he faced to earn his first save of the year. A night after tossing a one-hitter, High Point allowed only four hits against a Winthrop squad that came into the series leading the Big South in batting average through six conference games.

The Panthers added on to their lead in the sixth inning on a two-out RBI single from senior Jordan Sergent and a pinch-hit solo home run from sophomore Joe Johnson in the eighth inning. Nine different batters recorded at least one hit led by Zente (3-for-3, HR, 2 R, RBI), Lee (2-for-5, 2 R, RBI), Sergent (2-for-5, 2B, R, RBI), and Dunbar (2-for-5, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI), who each posted multi-hit games. Additionally, nine different players scored a run and six different Panthers had at least one RBI.

HPU is in position to sweep its first Big South series of the season on Saturday afternoon in the series finale. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.