RADFORD, Va. – High Point University baseball rides a quality start from Matt Hodges and a three-RBI night from Brady Pearre to even their series with Radford in a 3-1 victory. The Panthers retain their position at the No. 5 seed in the coming Big South tournament, thanks to the game two win, keeping the team’s hopes alive for a fourth-place finish in the conference.
Making the second start of his career, Matt Hodges held the Highlanders to a single hit over his 6.0 IP of work, shutting out the Highlanders to earn his third win of the 2019 season. Keeping the home team hitless through the opening two innings, Hodges ultimately faced just four over the minimum on Friday, while striking out five Radford batters. The lefty completed his first quality start while tossing a career-high 95 pitches, and never allowed more than a single Radford base runner per frame during his time on the hill.
“I just knew that I had a great defense behind me, so I tried to go out there and just throw strikes,” said Hodges. “Obviously the first two batters didn’t go that way, but I figured it all out, and just tried to go out there and throw strikes, keep them off balance and make them [Radford] make a play.”
With Hodges and the Panther defense keeping the Highlander offense at bay, freshman Brady Pearre got the job done on the offensive side, starting in the top half of the third. After leading the frame off with a single to center, senior Nick Niarchos moved into scoring position on a Conner Dunbar sac bunt to present the RBI-opportunity for Pearre. The first-year responded with a towering shot to left field that cleared the wall by over 10 feet, giving Pearre his third homer of 2019 and putting visiting HPU ahead by a pair.
“It was a fastball middle-middle basically,” said Pearre, commenting on his third inning home run. “I just got a good pitch to hit in a good count.”
Pearre would further add on to his team’s lead in the fifth, driving in Dunbar from second base on a single through the left side. The freshman’s three RBI tied a career-high and would stand as the Panthers’ lone runs of the night, with the first-year Panther currently hitting 4-for-8 (.500) against the Highlanders this weekend.
Coming in at the start of the seventh inning, Jonny Vizcaino recorded the final nine outs for High Point on Friday, striking out seven of the 13 batters he faced on the night. After surrendering a pair of base runners in his first frame on the bump, Vizcaino retired the next five batters he faced, before the Highlanders scored their lone run of the evening on an error in the ninth.
With just two hits and a single unearned run to his name, Vizcaino completed the first save of his career at High Point, as he and Hodges combined for a dozen Ks in the 3-1 victory and held the home side to just three knocks in all.
“As long as we get a shot to stay out of that play-in game [in the Big South tournament] we’re in a good spot,” said Pearre. “This game was huge tonight and tomorrow is even bigger. We’ll attack it as it comes.”
>> Conner Dunbar finished with a pair of knocks to go 2-for-3 with a run scored
>> Travis Holt’s single in the third gives the sophomore four hits against Radford this weekend, while AJ Holcomb tallied his third knock of the series off a single in the fourth
>> Hodges season ERA drops to a paltry 2.13 after his performance this Friday, he’s a perfect 3-0 on the season and has given up just a single earned run between his two starts against Elon and Radford this year
COMING UP NEXT
The Panthers look to grab a series win this Saturday, facing off with the Highlanders in an early afternoon finale at 2 PM. Senior right-hander Andrew Gottfried is expected to get the start on the mound, as the Panthers have a shot to clinch the No. 4 seed in the coming Big South tournament with a game three victory.
Panthers get a No. 4 Seed if:
High Point wins one of its final game with Radford AND Presbyterian loses its games against Charleston Southern