HPU Survives and Advances in 11 Innings Over CSU
• Senior Jordan Sergent tied the game with a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the ninth and Senior Carson Jackson provided the walk-off sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 11th inning.
• After not recording a walk-off triumph in more than two years, HPU has now recorded consecutive walk-off victories.
• Senior Rion Murrah was phenomenal in relief, tossing five innings and allowing only one run on five hits.
LYNCHBURG, Va. – Down to its final out in the opening game of the Big South Baseball Championship, the High Point University baseball team rallied to pull out an 11-inning, 6-5 victory over Charleston Southern on Tuesday morning at Liberty Baseball Stadium. The No. 2 seeded Panthers advance to face the winner of No. 3 Liberty and No. 6 Radford on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
“What can you say about our guys,” head coach Craig Cozart said. “This was a gutsy performance. They stayed with it, never lost faith, and figured out a way to get it done in the end once again. I have to tip my cap to Charleston Southern – they played sensationally.
“Joe Johnson and Rion Murrah did a great job on the mound and we only walked one guy today and I think that’s the only reason we probably won this thing. Great job by Carson Jackson coming up big in that situation. I’m proud of our guys.”
Similar to the regular season finale on Saturday night, the Panthers (32-21) had their backs against the wall entering the bottom of the ninth. Trailing 5-4 to the Bucs (19-34), HPU put two on with one out via a hit by pitch and walk. After a flyout for the second out, senior Jordan Sergent came through clutch yet again with an RBI single to right-center, plating senior Hunter Lee with the tying run.
The game remained even until the home half of the 11th when Lee led off with a double to left-center and was followed by freshman Tanner Wells, who singled to shallow left. With runners at the corners, senior Carson Jackson slapped a line drive to shallow center that was hauled in on a diving attempt. Despite the catch, Lee was able to tag and easily sprint home with the game-winning run as High Point celebrated its second straight walk-off.
Charleston Southern came out roaring, taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning on a sacrifice fly. The Panthers immediately responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the second on a sacrifice safety squeeze bunt from junior JJ Woodard and an RBI single by junior Conner Dunbar.
Lee added to the Panthers advantage with a solo homer leading off the bottom of the third, his seventh of the year. The first team all-conference selection was one of four Panthers with multiple hits, going 2-for-4 with a double, home run, three runs scored, and an RBI.
The Buccaneers immediately responded with three two-out runs in the top of the fourth to take a 4-3 lead. Another two-out run in the top of the seventh extended the advantage to 5-3. Jackson got the run right back in the bottom of the seventh with a mammoth solo tater off the scoreboard in left-center to bring HPU back within one and set the stage for the eventual dramatics. Jackson was 2-for-5 in the game with the dinger, two runs scored, and two RBI.
High Point got through the 11-inning affair using only two pitchers. Sophomore Joe Johnson got the start and posted a solid six innings, yielding four runs on seven hits with three strikeouts and a walk in a no-decision. Senior Rion Murrah entered in the seventh and finished off the game with five superb frames on the hill. Murrah (5-2) saw his scoreless-inning streak end at 17.0 innings with the run in the seventh, but then held the Bucs off the board for the rest of the game.
The first team all-conference performer pitched around hits in each of his five innings on the bump, but utilized a double play and a caught stealing to keep Charleston Southern off the board.
HPU now moves into the winner’s bracket and awaits the winner of No. 3 Liberty and No. 6 Radford on Wednesday afternoon. First pitch is tentatively scheduled for 4:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast ESPN+.
*****Courtesy of Kevin Burke*****