• The Panthers scored three runs in the top of the eighth inning, pushing across the winning run on an error.
• At 9-3, High Point is off to its best 12-game Big South start since joining the league, surpassing the 2006 team (8-4).
• HPU secured its first Big South sweep of the year (second overall), and the first conference sweep since Charleston Southern last year (5/5-7/17)
CHARLESTON, S.C. – A three-run eighth-inning rally led the High Point University baseball team to a 4-3 comeback victory over Charleston Southern on Sunday afternoon at CSU Ballpark, finishing off the Panthers’ first Big South series sweep of the season.
“I’m very proud of the guys for figuring out a way to get the sweep,” head coach Craig Cozart said. “I’m glad we had some guys step up on the mound and keep us in the ballgame on a Sunday. Conner Dunbar’s bunt go us going for our three-run inning, and once again, we played flawless defense, which is the only reason we stayed in this ballgame. It was a really, really good weekend.”
High Point (17-14, 9-3) has now won 12 consecutive contests against the Buccaneers (11-23, 3-9), including the last two sweeps in conference play for HPU. The Panthers are also off to their best start in Big South play in the Div. I era (since 1999), bettering the previous mark of 8-4 through 12 games in 2006. The sweep was the first on the road in conference play since winning three in a row at UNC Asheville from March 18-20, 2016.
Trailing 3-1 entering the eighth, junior Conner Dunbar ignited the comeback with a bunt single up the first base line. After a flyout, Dunbar stole second, moved to third on a throwing error, and scored on an RBI single from freshman Travis Holt to make it 3-2.
A single and a walk loaded the bases for senior Carson Jackson, who hit a high chopper up the middle. The shortstop, Josh Asbill, stepped on the second base bag while bobbling the ball and threw wildly past first. The fielder’s choice evened the contest, while the bad throw allowed senior Hunter Lee to race home with the go-ahead tally.
Given the lead, the Panthers turned things over to senior Rion Murrah, who emphatically shut the door by retiring all six batters he faced in two innings. His second save of the year locked down HPU’s fourth one-run win and ninth comeback of the year, five of which have come when tied or trailing after seven innings.
The Panthers dodged in and out of trouble early in the game, stranding multiple CSU baserunners in three of the first four innings. Redshirt-junior Jonny Vizcaino started and pitched 2.1 scoreless innings with the help of a double play forced by sophomore reliever Garrett Letchworth in the last of the third inning.
The Buccaneers ultimately broke through with a pair of two-out runs in the fifth inning to grab a 2-0 advantage. HPU quickly answered with a solo home run from senior Austen Zente in the top of the sixth, his team-leading seventh of the year. Zente added to his incredible weekend with his second three-hit game of the series, going 3-for-4 with a home run, run scored, and RBI.
CSU came back with a two-out RBI single in the sixth inning to regain a two-run advantage at 3-1. However, sophomore Joe Johnson (1-0) would prevent further damage and pitch a scoreless seventh inning to ultimately earn his first win of the year.
Led by Zente, HPU’s top three hitters in the order went a combined 8-for-12. Holt tied a career high with three hits, scoring once and driving in another. Lee was 2-for-4 with a pair of singles and a run scored to extend his hitting streak to 23 games.
High Point returns home on Tuesday to host UNCG at 6 p.m. The Panthers will attempt to avenge a 12-6 loss to the Spartans in Greensboro on March 27.