HIGH POINT, N.C. – Outscoring UNC Asheville 30-9 over the course of the weekend, High Point University clinched a series sweep of the Bulldogs this Monday with an 11-3 victory.
Similar to the pair’s Saturday slate, the Panthers got off to an outstanding start offensively, hanging five runs on the visiting side in the opening inning. All nine batters in the HPU lineup made a plate appearance in the bottom frame, collecting three hits and a pair of walks.
“I thought we played very well,” said Head Coach Craig Cozart. “We talked about, as a team, when your in a position to sweep, to try and get out of the box early and put some runs on the board. We were fortunate enough to do that in the first inning today, so I think that was huge.”
Delivering a one-out single, second baseman Travis Holt moved over to third on a Bulldogs wild pitch and a UNCA error, before Daniel Millwee and Joe Johnson loaded the bases on back-to-back walks. Junior Ryan Russell delivered the first of his two hits on the day with an RBI infield single, while Millwee came home on Asheville’s second error of the frame. With a 2-0 advantage, freshman AJ Holcomb doubled the home club’s lead with a single up the middle while a delayed double steal made it 5-0 Panthers.
Barring the unearned run he surrendered in the second, starting pitcher Andrew Gottfried kept the Bulldog hitters at bay in his 7.0 innings of work, spraying six UNCA hits across his quality start and surrendering just a single base on balls. Gottfried’s QS was his third of his past four appearances, as he was helped out by a pair of double plays from the HPU defense in both the fourth and fifth inning. The senior ace finished his day with four strikeouts, to move to a total of 202 on his career, as he becomes just the third Purple & White pitcher in Division I history to reach the 200 mark.
“It was nice to see [Andrew] Gottfried get his first win of the year,” said Coach Cozart. “He’s a senior and been our Friday night guy for the past couple of years, and he had a real tough start to the season, but he’s gotten himself back in line and his last three or four outings have been very good. Today’s the best that he’s been all year for us and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Hopefully he’ll continue to improve, and I like having him in game three. When you’re in game three you want somebody to go out there and throw strikes and compete. His stuff has gotten better, his pitch-making has gotten a lot better and it’s great to see a kid that works as hard as he does get rewarded for that.”
The Panthers weren’t done offensively, as the side once again brought nine hitters into the batter’s box in the sixth, scoring five runs in a frame for the second time on the afternoon. HPU’s offense got started on back-to-back knocks from Russell and JJ Woodard, with the former coming across on Woodard’s single to right center. Holcomb hit an ambush single during his third at bat of the day to put a pair on base, with the pair working into scoring position on a groundout in the next AB. Brady Pearre, Holt and Brian Rall delivered three straight two-out knocks to drive in four runs at the back end of the inning, taking a 10-1 lead into the seventh.
“We’ve been swinging the bat pretty good now for a couple of weeks but the last weekend at Presbyterian, even though we were getting plenty of hits, we weren’t scoring runs in bunches,” said Cozart. “I kept telling the guys to ‘stay the course’. When you start stacking together the number of hits that we are, then the runs should be right behind, and obviously through three games, it showed up this weekend.”
Coming on in relief during the eighth inning, sophomore Jacob Winger surrendered a pair of runs to the Bulldogs on the way to striking out five UNCA batters. With Holcomb scoring on Holt’s third hit of the day in the bottom of inning number eight, Winger finished the final six outs of the Monday contest, closing the afternoon on an 11-3 score in favor of the Panthers.
“We were able to hit the pitches in the zone, and I think we were able to do what the game allowed us to do and score some runs,” said Holcomb “…When you keep putting up runs, it just shows consistency and us playing hard no matter what.”
>> Holcomb and Holt each delivered three hits on the day, collecting a double apiece
>> Driving in two of the Panthers’ 11 runs, Pearre finished this weekend’s series with seven RBI in total, he’s hit .417 over his current five-game hitting streak
>> With a single and a walk, Millwee extends his current on base streak to 27 games
>> The Panthers stranded just four runners on the afternoon, out-hitting the Bulldogs 34-21 over the course of the three-game series
COMING UP NEXT
The Panthers get straight to work with a pair of midweek games scheduled. HPU travels to nearby Elon for a Tuesday matchup at 6 PM, while coming back home to host Wake Forest on Wednesday with a 6 PM first pitch.