Site: High Point, N.C. (Williard Stadium)
Game One Score: High Point 4, Towson 0
W: Harrison Smith (2-0), L: Josh Seils (0-2)
Game Two Score: Towson 12, High Point 5
W: Nick Ramanjulu (1-1), L: Nick Hernandez (0-1)
Records: HPU 5-2, TU 1-4
Next HPU Event: Sunday, Feb. 23 — vs. Towson (Williard Stadium, High Point, N.C.), 1 p.m.
HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University baseball team split its first doubleheader of the season, blanking Towson University 4-0 in game one before falling 12-5 in game two on Saturday (Feb. 22). The Panthers only picked up one shutout in 2019, keeping UNC Asheville off the board in HPU’s opening game of the Big South Tournament a year ago.
“Doubleheaders are tough,” head coach Craig Cozart said at the end of the day. “We looked pretty good in game one, throwing a shutout, and then we looked like we had never seen a baseball in game two.”
It was a pitcher’s duel to start the first game of the day, with the starters combining for seven strikeouts and just four hits through the first four innings of the game. High Point threatened in the fourth, putting runners on second and third but couldn’t bring any around to score until the bottom of the fifth.
Evan Bergman was hit by a pitch to start the inning and advanced to second on a bunt single from Trent Harris. The Panthers tried a double steal and Harris made it safely to second but Bergman was thrown out at third. Brady Pearre was up next for HPU and brought home Harris on a single down the third-base line. Pearre eventually made it to third when Travis Holt reached on an error. Holt stole second to give High Point two runners in scoring position but a flyout to right ended the inning with just one run on the board for the Panthers.
The Panthers made more noise in the sixth, extending the lead to 4-0 with a three-run inning. Justin Ebert singled up the middle with one out and advanced to second when Sam Zayicek singled to center. Bergman drew a walk to load the bases and Ebert came around to score when Harris singled to short. Towson’s shortstop made an error throwing the ball, allowing Zayicek to score and putting Bergman on third to give the Purple and White runners on the corners. Cole Singsank came in to pinch-hit and singled to short to plate Harris and pick up High Point’s fourth and final run of the game.
Harrison Smith came out to pitch the seventh inning and the senior sat the Tigers down in order, picking up his sixth and seventh strikeouts of the day to match his season-high from opening day. Smith’s day was done after the seventh, leaving with a line of no runs on two hits with one walk and seven strikeouts in seven innings of work.
Classmate Grey Lyttle came in to relieve Smith and had a huge eighth inning, striking out the Towson side. He came back out for the ninth and made things a bit interesting, allowing runners to reach second and third with two outs before getting a flyout to left to end the game and give the Panthers their first shutout of the season.
“Harrison got us through seven innings on right at around 80 pitches which was great,” Cozart said of his starter. “Grey came in and struck out the side and then messed around a little bit in the ninth inning but got it done. Two seniors that pitched like they had experience.”
Towson came out of the gates hot in the second game, scoring six runs in the first two innings as part of 12 unanswered runs to start the game. The Tigers got one in the first and chased High Point’s starter, Nick Hernandez, in the second inning with a five-run outburst, bringing in Trent Harris in relief. Harris was a bright spot early in the game for the Panthers, racking up six strikeouts in 3.1 innings of work while giving up two runs on three hits.
The Tigers tacked on five more in the sixth and one more in the top of the seventh to make it 12-0 before High Point found an answer in the bottom of the seventh. Bergman was hit by a pitch to start the inning and Ryan Russell walked. Both runners advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch and Justin Wilkins was hit by a pitch with the count full to load them up with one out.
Pearre sent one deep enough to center to score Bergman and then Holt singled to right to plate Russell. The bases were loaded again after Joe Johnson drew the second walk of the inning but a popup to short ended the inning for the Panthers.
High Point made some more noise in the bottom of the ninth but it wasn’t enough to erase the 10-run deficit it had dug itself into. Towson racked up two quick outs on the HPU hitters before the Purple and White mounted a small two-out rally. Holt was hit by a pitch and Johnson picked up his second walk in as many trips to the plate to get two on.
Holt came around to score when AJ Holcomb singled up the middle and Johnson followed suit on a Zayicek single to the gap in left that Holcomb took third on. Bergman singled through the right side of the infield to score Holcomb and make it three straight RBI singles for the Panthers but a groundout to first stopped the rally at three runs.
HPU and Towson will hit the diamond on Sunday (Feb. 22) for the rubber match of the series, with first pitch slated for 1 p.m. at Williard Stadium.