HPU Baseball Panthers Clinch Second Straight Big South Series

HIGH POINT, N.C. – Tying a season-high with 16 hits on the afternoon, High Point University baseball clinched its second straight Big South series win this Sunday, with an 8-2 victory over visiting Charleston Southern. The Panthers’ big day on offense was backed by a superior performance from Joe Johnson on the mound, as the junior righty recorded a six-hit quality start.

“The best thing was Joe Johnson gave us a real quality start and pitched deep into the ball game,” said Assistant Coach Jason Laws. “…[Daniel] Millwee started with a two-run homer in the first and we had the opportunity to play with the lead early, and continue to expand that lead as the game went on.”

With the Bucs’ lone base runner reaching on an error in the top of the first, Daniel Millwee gave HPU a two-run advantage in the bottom half with his team-leading fifth home run of the season. Travis Holt reached early in the frame with a single up the middle before Millwee’s two-run shot to left extended the pair’s on base streaks to 13 consecutive appearances.

Holt and Millwee recorded three knocks apiece on Friday and Saturday night respectively, combining for 16 hits overall in the Panthers’ series against Charleston Southern. Adding another three RBI to his season total on Sunday, Millwee finishes his week with seven runs driven in, on the way to crossing home a total of nine times.

“Coach always preaches, of course winning the series and coming out on top, but especially when you’re tied 1-1 going into Sunday, that Sunday game is extremely important,” said Millwee. “…for us to win two series in a row on the weekend is huge. So hopefully we’re starting to get our stride going offensively…”

The Panthers added another run in the second off the bat of senior shortshop Conner Dunbar, who sent a solo shot to left field for his first homer of 2019. He adds his name to a list of seven Panthers with long balls during the current campaign, putting the home side out in front by three.

HPU continued to expand on its lead in the bottom of the third, with starting pitcher Joe Johnson securing his fifth knock of the weekend on a single to center field. The junior advanced after stealing second, before crossing home on a fielder’s choice later in the inning. A groundout RBI from senior Conner Dunbar increased the home team’s lead to 5-0, as Johnson continued to blank the Bucs through the first five innings.

Giving up just three hits through the first five innings, Johnson registered his first quality start of the current campaign, as the righty continued to get it done both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. His only two runs surrendered on the afternoon came in the top of the sixth, as the Benson, N.C. native finished a career best 4-for-5 at the plate.

“Joe’s a tremendous competitor and a very talented player,” said Coach Laws. “He’s been pitching for us on the weekends and still hitting in the middle of the order. That’s not something that you see very often…You don’t often see somebody who can impact your team on both ends of the ball like that. He’s definitely a special player for us.”

With a three-run lead in hand, Holt delivered his first career home run in the bottom of the sixth, clearing the left field wall for his team’s sixth run of the contest. The Panthers would get shutout in the seventh, before wrapping up their offensive day with two more runs in the eighth.

Following Holt’s third hit of the day, senior first baseman JJ Woodard followed up with a fielder’s choice in the following at bat, before Millwee scored the latter on a single up the middle. Johnson provided his third double of the series in the ensuing at bat, scoring Woodard from second to bring it to a final of 8-2.

Relieving Johnson after six innings of work, freshman KJ Wells and sophomore Jacob Winger combined for three shutout innings to end the contest. Winger inherited a pair of runners in the eighth with the tying run on deck, forcing a double-play ball and recording a strikeout to end the frame. The sophomore faced just five batters to record the final six outs of the contest, earning his second save of the year in the process.

>> Recording three hits against the Bucs on Sunday, Millwee finishes the series 8-for-13 (.615), along with six RBI, five runs scored and a 1.000 slugging percentage
>> Holt finishes his weekend 6-for-14 (.429) at the plate while Johnson hit 8-for-14 (.571) with four RBI in all
>> Johnson is currently on a five-game hitting streak, delivering a slugging percentage of 1.000 during that period. He currently leads the Panthers with 22 RBI on the year
>> Freshman Evan Bergman and junior Ryan Russell each had a pair of knocks on Sunday, with the latter drawing a walk and a run scored as well
>> In addition to their 16 hits, the Panthers’ three homers in this week’s finale also tie a season-high in 2019. Their five stolen bases tie the campaign-best they recorded against CSU on Friday, swiping 14 bags overall on the weekend

The Panthers have a scheduled rematch with UNCG in the coming midweek, matching up with the Spartans in Greensboro this Tuesday at 6 PM. HPU will be looking for some payback against their triad rival, dropping a 6-2 decision to UNCG at home earlier in the year.