HIGH POINT, N.C. – Tallying a come-from-behind win on Friday, High Point University baseball takes a series advantage over visiting Charleston Southern in a 9-4 game one victory. Coming back from a three-run deficit, the Panthers were boosted by a five-run seventh inning to open the weekend, out-hitting the Bucs 14-7 on the night.
“Honestly, our guys have been working really hard offensively,” said Head Coach Craig Cozart. “They’re getting rewarded for it right now, and this is more of the offense that we thought we had. So it’s good to see things start going in that direction. 14 hits is plenty on a Friday night to get a win I would think, and it definitely was tonight.”
After falling behind by three runs in the first frame, the Purple & White cut their deficit to one in the bottom half of the fourth on a pair of hits and two errors from the CSU defense. Junior Ryan Russell drove in the Panthers first run of the night on an RBI single to center, before advancing to third on a fielding error from the Charleston Southern second baseman. HPU worked the delayed double steal later in the inning to make the difference 3-2, with Russell crossing home on the play.
The home side took its first lead of the night in the fifth, backed by a solo shot from starting first baseman JJ Woodard, and a Joe Johnson RBI double. Woodard’s homer was the senior’s fourth of the year, sending a ball over the left field fence, while Johnson’s two-bagger to score Daniel Millwee gave the junior his 19th RBI of the 2019 season.
Johnson would add his 20th during the seventh for a team-high two runs driven in, as the Panthers responded to a CSU game-tying score in the sixth with a five-run offensive outburst in the following inning.
With six hits in the frame, all nine of High Point’s starting nine in the lineup recorded an at bat, with Travis Holt opening the frame with his second of three knocks on the evening. The Panthers would start the bottom half of the seventh with four straight singles to go ahead 6-4, backed by RBI knocks from Johnson and Millwee.
Freshmen Evan Bergman and Brady Pearre backed up their teammates with back-to-back singles to score Johnson and Millwee, before senior Conner Dunbar capped off the offensive onslaught on a sac-fly to make it 9-4.
Making his second start of the year this Friday, Grey Lyttle surrendered a trio of runs to open his night on the mound (2 ER) before settling in for four-plus frames of shutout baseball. Lyttle’s 5.2 innings of work saw the junior strikeout five CSU batters, on the way to his second straight 100-pitch performance.
“Grey [Lyttle] is a really hard-nosed competitor,” said Cozart. “For him to figure out a way to get us 5.2 innings today, and keep us basically in the same position as we had in the first inning, is pretty special.”
Senior Jonny Vizcaino took care of the last 10 outs of Friday’s matchup, sending down a career-high seven batters on strikeouts. After giving up a walk in his first batter faced, Vizcaino retired the next nine CSU players to step into the box, striking out the side in both the seventh and eighth innings. Facing just two over the minimum against the Buccaneers, Vizcaino has delivered a WHIP average of 0.80 during his last four appearances, surrendering just a single earned run over that span of time (10.0 IP). He earned the winning decision against CSU in game one, his first of the 2019 season.
“He [Jonny Vizcaino] really stood up and I’m glad that he was able to get us home and we didn’t have to go any deeper into the bullpen,” said Cozart. “That was special. And the middle of our order was special. It was nice to see [Travis] Holt get three hits after moving him into the two-hole…I look forward to seeing the guys come out with a similar energy, and hopefully even better results tomorrow.”
>> Daniel Millwee and Travis Holt each extended their active on-base streaks to 11 on the afternoon. Millwee finished his night 2-for-5 (.400) with three runs scored, while Holt went 3-for-5 (.600)
>> With a pair of runs driven in, Joe Johnson now has a team-leading 20 RBI on the year, he has five overall in his past four appearances
>> JJ Woodard’s long ball puts him in a tie with Millwee for a team-high (4), while the senior currently leads the Panthers in slugging (.467)
>> Batting in the second through fifth spots in the lineup, Holt, Woodard, Millwee, and Johnson accounted for 12 of their team’s 14 knocks on the afternoon. Their 14 hits as a team trail only the 16 they put up against JMU earlier this year, for a season-high
COMING UP NEXT
The Panthers enter game two of their weekend series with the Bucs on Saturday at 6 PM. Junior righty Harrison Smith is expected to take the bump, coming off the complete game, Big South Starting Pitcher of the Week performance he registered last week at USC Upstate.