Ninth-Inning Magic Works Again for HPU Baseball in 3-1 Win

• Redshirt-junior Daniel Millwee collected his second go-ahead RBI in the ninth inning this week in HPU’s 3-1 win over Asheville.
• Junior Andrew Gottfried, sophomore Garrett Letchworth, and senior Rion Murrah combined to hold the Bulldogs scoreless for the final eight innings.
• High Point has now won eight games this season when tied or trailing after the sixth inning, including three in the ninth inning or later.

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – For the second straight game this week, the High Point University baseball team scored two runs in the ninth inning to escape with a road victory, this time pulling out a 3-1 triumph over UNC Asheville in the opener of a three-game series on Friday night at Greenwood Field.

“Sometimes you have to win games with pitching and defense, and tonight we turned two of the most ridiculous double plays I’ve seen in a long time,” head coach Craig Cozart said. “But I have to tip my cap to Coach (Jason) Laws. We finally had an inning where we could create some offense (in the ninth), and he pulled the trigger with a slash bunt and a safety squeeze. Coach Laws put us in position to win.”

High Point (26-20, 14-8) had been held in check offensively all night before breaking through in the ninth. Freshman Tanner Wells and senior Carson Jackson led off the frame with singles to put two on for redshirt-junior Daniel Millwee. After showing bunt on the first pitch, Millwee squared again, only to pull back and smack a single up the middle to score Wells with the go-ahead run. Millwee, who also had the go-ahead knock at Elon on Tuesday, has now collected 10 go-ahead and three game-winning RBI’s in his first season in the Purple & White.

After a pitching change, junior JJ Woodard laid down provided the insurance with a perfect safety squeeze up the first base line to score Jackson and give High Point a 3-1 advantage they would not relinquish.

HPU was in position to break the tie due to great performances on the mound and in the field. Asheville (12-34, 7-15) went ahead with a two-out RBI single in the first inning against junior Andrew Gottfried. From there, though, the Bulldogs would be limited to just one hit in the next six innings as HPU tied the game with a two-out single from junior Conner Dunbar in the fifth inning.

Gottfried retired 12 of 13 from the second through fifth innings before a leadoff error and a two-out walk ended his day in the sixth. Sophomore Garrett Letchworth was called upon with the game in the balance and was able to strike out Brandon Lankford to keep things even, 1-1.

Letchworth erased a one-out walk in the seventh thanks to a phenomenal double play started by senior second baseman Hunter Lee, who dove full extension to his left, spun on his knee and fired a dart to Dunbar at short to start a 4-6-3 twin-killing.

Senior Rion Murrah entered in the eighth and gave up back-to-back one out singles and then balked to put two in scoring position. From there, Murrah (4-2) coaxed a weak groundout and a flyout to escape the jam. Protecting a lead in the ninth, Murrah allowed two straight singles to open the frame, but again got a ground ball to Lee, who backhanded the ball on a knee and glove-flipped to Dunbar for another highlight-reel 4-6-3 double play, nullifying the rally.

Murrah picked up his fourth win of the year with the two scoreless innings of relief, allowing four hits, but striking out one and getting the key double play. Gottfired settled for a no-decision after giving up a run on three hits with three strikeouts in 5.2 innings. Combined with Letchworth, the trio held Asheville to 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

“Gottfried dug in for us and got us into the middle innings,” Cozart said. “Letchworth had a huge strikeout, and it wasn’t easy, but Murrah put up two zeroes to secure the win for us.”

The Panthers will look to claim a series victory in the middle game of the set on Saturday at Greenwood Field. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN+.