HPU Baseball Panthers Give Deacons All They Can Handle In Midweek Loss

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – High Point University baseball collects 12 hits and three home runs in a high-scoring 14-9 loss at Wake Forest this Tuesday.

“We fought the entire game. We never had any let downs, where we just conceded that we weren’t going to win this ball game. We played flawless defense, we just couldn’t keep the ball in the ballpark,” said Head Coach Craig Cozart “…Two out walks turn into two big innings for them [Wake Forest], and unfortunately that’s what beat us. We swung the bats well, we stayed aggressive and we continued to fight all the way until the end, so I don’t have a problem with our guys’ effort. The result is unfortunate, but if we come to the ballpark with that effort for the rest of the year, we’re going to win the majority of the games we play.”

In a contest that saw seven homers and 22 runs in all, the Panthers opened up scoring in the top half of the second, thanks to some head’s up baserunning from freshman catcher Brian Rall. After taking a five-pitch walk, the backstop advanced to second on a groundout in the following at bat, before moving over to third on a wild pitch and crossing home on a passed ball for a 1-0 advantage.

HPU continued to add to its lead in the third, with the Panthers’ middle infield proving responsible for a pair of solo home runs. Taking his first at bat of the night, senior shortstop Conner Dunbar sent the first pitch he faced over the right field wall, before second baseman Travis Holt sent one to left just two at bats later. The pair’s homers were both their second of the 2019 campaign, as the two each recorded a dinger in High Point’s 8-2 victory over Charleston Southern on March 31st.

“I was joking with [Dunbar] in the dugout, that he’s a second-half hitter,” said Cozart. “He got hot last year in the second half, so it can’t come soon enough, because if we get him going, we like what we’re doing.”

The home team would respond in the bottom half however, delivering five hits and seven runs to go out in front 7-3 before the start of the fourth.

The Panthers continued to eat away at their opponents’ lead over the following two innings, with freshman AJ Holcomb delivering an RBI single in the fourth, driving in his fourth run of the previous three games. HPU’s biggest offensive surge took place in the top of the fifth however, as the visiting side opened the frame with five straight knocks.

Dunbar collected his second hit of the night on a single to right, before Brady Pearre put runners on the corners with his second single of the contest. Holt drove in his second run of the evening after shooting one up the middle, giving first baseman Daniel Millwee a pair of base runners and the tying run on first.

Clearing the right field fence, the senior went opposite field for his sixth homer of 2019, bringing his RBI-total to a team-high of 25. Millwee’s long ball was his fourth three-run shot of the year, as five of his homers have come with men on base.

With the go ahead run on the board, the Panthers ceded their lead to the home team for a second time, with the Demon Deacons providing a six-run seventh to go up 13-8.

Dunbar’s third and final hit of the night would come on an RBI double in the eighth inning, but that would be all for the High Point offense on Tuesday, with the final score reflecting a 14-9 win for hosts Wake Forest.

>> Between Pearre, Holt and Millwee, the front third of the Panthers’ lineup was responsible for seven of their team’s 12 hits, while driving in a combined five runs
>> Dunbar finished his night a triple short of the cycle, going 3-for-5 at the plate with a pair of runs driven in
>> Freshman righty KJ Wells recorded a career-high four strikeouts in his 3.2 innings of work, retiring the first 11 batters he faced in order
>> Millwee has now touched first safely in his last 18 games, he’s reached in all but one game this entire spring
>> AJ Holcomb drew a career-high two walks against the Demon Deacons, garnering an OBP of .417 in his last three contests

The Panthers return to conference play while hosting Longwood University this weekend. The Purple & White is 14-8 against the Lancers all-time and has not lost a series to the side since 2013.