HPU Baseball Panthers Take An 8-6 Loss On St. Paddy’s Day

HIGH POINT, N.C. – Clawing their way back from an early deficit, High Point University baseball was unable to complete a come back against visiting Campbell this Sunday, falling to the Camels by a final of 8-6.

The Panthers collected double-digit knocks for the second day in a row during this weekend’s three game series, while an impressive 4.2 inning performance from senior Jonny Vizcaino kept the Purple & White within striking range. HPU’s comeback effort was denied in the ninth however, as a base-running mistake ended the afternoon at a two-run deficit.

“What Jonny [Vizcaino] did today is a lot of what we saw last year,” said Head Coach Craig Cozart. “He’s a really good guy to kind of bridge the gap when you don’t get a good start out of your starting pitcher…It wasn’t easy, he had to make a lot of high-leverage pitches with runners in scoring position but he figured out a way to get out of it.”

After surrendering eight runs through the opening four innings, the Panther offense got going in the bottom half of the fourth, led by a three-run homer from catcher Daniel Millwee. Ryan Russell opened the frame with a leadoff walk before a double down the right field line from Joe Johnson planted a pair of runners in scoring position for Millwee. The senior backstop responded with his fourth homer of the year, sending a fly ball to left center, to make it 8-3.

“[Daniel] Millwee with the big three-run homer to get us rolling is nice to see, and we got going offensively a little bit [after that],” said Cozart “But we have to flip the script, we have to start pitching better as starters and we’ve got to get out of the gates a little bit better offensively…”

The Panthers would tack on a total of six unanswered from innings number four through seven, plating their fourth run of the afternoon on a delayed double steal in the sixth. Johnson opened the frame with his second hit of the day, before moving over to third on a Sam Zayicek single to center. The junior crossed home the eighth time this season on the following at bat, coming in moments before the tag was laid on Zayicek going to second.

HPU cut the Camel lead to just two runs in the seventh, as first baseman JJ Woodard reached on a throwing error to open the stanza. A single from Conner Dunbar put runners on the corners, with Woodard scoring on a failed fielder’s choice opportunity at home. Russell drove in the Panthers’ final run of the game with his sac fly RBI, but would see his team go scoreless for the remainder of an 8-6 loss.

“Coach [Jason] Laws has done a great job in the last two days of figuring out a way to generate some offense…,” said Cozart. “He’s done a good job doing some things to generate offense; first and third squeezes, bunts for hits, some hit and runs. Evan Bergman smoked a ball in the last inning there which ends up being a double play because we don’t touch second base. If that ball’s through the gap, all of a sudden it’s a one-run ball game with the tying run on second at least.”

>> Going 2-for-4 in the box on Sunday, Trent Harris extended his current on base streak to seven straight games, collecting an OBP of .423 since March 5th
>> With his three-run homer, and a bunt single in the eighth, Millwee has reached first in all but one of his 15 appearances this season. He leads the Panthers with a .508 slugging percentage and 12 runs scored in 2019
>> Freshman Evan Bergman saw his eight-game hitting streak come to an end this Sunday, but collected his fifth RBI of the season in the process. All five of his runs driven in have come in his last six appearances
>> Vizcaino’s 87 pitches are a new career-high for the senior since arriving on HPU’s campus, eclipsing the 78 he threw against Longwood last March
>> Sophomore Jacob Winger gave up a single base runner in his 1.2 innings of shutout work to close the game, he’s recorded three straight scoreless appearances out of the pen

Joe Johnson is expected to take the hill for this Monday’s series finale, wrapping up the Panthers’ weekend with Campbell at 4 PM. The Panthers will play four days in a row for the first time this year, getting on the road for a Tuesday matchup with Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.