• Seniors Austen Zente, Carson Jackson, and Jordan Sergent extended their hitting streaks to 13, eight and seven games, respectively.
• Junior Conner Dunbar was 3-for-3 with two walks at the dish to lead the HPU offensive attack.
• The three-game series continues on Saturday afternoon at Williard Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.
HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University baseball team fell in its series opener to visiting Liberty on Friday night at Williard Stadium, 18-8. The Panthers and Flames are now tied for second in the Big South standings.
“Tonight was a miserable night of baseball,” head coach Craig Cozart said. “Sometimes you have to flush games and move on and that’s what we’ll do. We need to figure out a way to even up the series tomorrow.
“On a side note, it’s unfortunate that Hunter Lee’s 28-game hitting streak came to an end. The game of baseball is really hard and what he did for 28 games is really special. I look forward to him starting another streak tomorrow.
Lee saw his career-best 28-game hitting streak come to an end with an 0-for-3 day. The senior second baseman walked three times, tallied one RBI and drove two balls to the warning track, but was unable to collect a hit for the first time since February 27. He has still reached base in all but one game this year and recorded at least one hit in 35 of 37 games.
High Point (20-17, 11-5) allowed at least one run in seven of the first eight innings to the Flames (23-13, 11-5). Liberty scored three in the first, a run in the third, two more in the second and put the game out of reach with five unearned runs in the top of the fifth.
The normally reliable HPU defense, which entered Friday’s game with the second-best fielding percentage in the league, committed six errors that led to seven unearned runs.
The Panthers’ first tally came in the last of the fourth inning on an RBI single from senior Jordan Sergent, who extended his hitting streak to a career-best seven games. Senior Austen Zente pushed his hitting streak to 13 games with a two-hit night.
HPU got its offense going in the last of the eighth inning, plating five runs. Zente singled home a run and was followed by an RBI knock from freshman Travis Holt. After a run-scoring wild pitch, senior Carson Jackson cranked a two-run triple to straightaway center, extending his hitting streak to eight games. Jackson was one of four Panthers with multiple hits, led by junior Conner Dunbar’s perfect night at the plate (3-for-3, 2 R, 2 BB).
Junior Andrew Gottfried suffered the toughest outing of his season, lasting only three-plus frames. Gottfried (4-4) was charged with six runs (five earned) on eight hits while taking the defeat. Garret Price (6-2) started for Liberty and gave up only one run on seven hits in six innings.
The Panthers and Flames continue their three-game set with the middle game on Saturday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.