HIGH POINT, N.C. – After postponing its opener with Longwood until Saturday, High Point University baseball starts this weekend’s series in with a 3-1 win, after an impressive mound performance from the Panther pitching staff.
“Watching film on Longwood we knew that they were very aggressive, so Harry [Smith] and Grey [Lyttle] did a great job of exploiting that, but they were aggressive at the same time,” said Head Coach Craig Cozart. “They were tremendous, attacking the strike zone and finishing hitters. They had a couple of situations where [Longwood] had guys in scoring position, where [Smith and Lyttle] they executed pitches, which we hadn’t done a great job of lately. We were really good on the mound, played flawless defense and had clutch two-out hitting. Sam Zayicek had the game-winner, and [Conner] Dunbar giving us some breathing room with two-out RBIs was huge. We haven’t played a game like that in a long time and it was nice to see us win a more classic-style of game.”
Starting his night with a one-two-three inning, starter Harrison Smith tossed his second quality start of the year against the Lancers, spraying three Longwood hits over six innings of work, while surrendering just a single earned run against. Sending a pair of batters down on strikes in the first, Smith K’d the side in the following frame, on the way to a career-high 11 strikeouts overall.
The right-hander did have some early run support Saturday night, thanks to an RBI single from senior Daniel Millwee in the bottom half of the first. After Evan Bergman led off the Panthers’ offensive night on a single to center field, the freshman advanced to scoring position on a Travis Holt sac bunt, before coming home on the Millwee knock.
With a 1-0 deficit in the top of the third, the Lancers evened things up on a solo shot to left in the third, to record the lone mark against Smith on the night.
Reaching 103 pitches by the end of the sixth, Smith’s night would end with the score still level at one apiece, as Grey Lyttle took to the hill at the start of inning number seven.
The Purple & White grabbed the go ahead in the next frame after Lyttle faced the minimum in the top half. Millwee started things off with his second hit of the night on a double to left center, before trading places with freshman Sam Zayicek on another double from the first-year Panther. Senior Conner Dunbar tallied the insurance marker in the following at bat, as a single up the middle put things at 3-1 headed to the eighth.
Lyttle was all but perfect over the final six outs of the night, with his lone base runner allowed coming on a single in the ninth. The junior finished his three innings on the bump with five strikeouts, to earn his third winning decision of the 2019 season. He and Smith combined for 16 Ks overall against the Lancers, one shy of tying a program record, to take the one game advantage headed into Sunday.
>> The first four bats in the Panther lineup were responsible for five of their team’s seven knocks on the night, with Millwee’s two hits going for a team-high
>> Dunbar’s single gives the shortstop four hits and three RBI in his last two games
>> Holt and Joe Johnson each collected a hit against the Lancers’ pitching staff, with the latter also collecting a stolen base in the eighth
>> Millwee is currently on a 19 game on base streak, he’s reached first in all but one game on the season
COMING UP NEXT
The Panthers will look to clinch their third Big South series win with a victory over Longwood on Sunday. Regular game three starter Joe Johnson is expected to take the hill, with first pitch getting rescheduled for 11 AM.