Site: High Point, N.C. (Williard Stadium)
Game One Score: Radford 9, High Point 5
W: Greg Duncan (2-0), L: Trent Harris (0-1)
Game Two Score: Radford 4, High Point 2
W: Ryan Bywaters (1-2), L: Dawson Place (1-1), S: Alex Perkins (3)
Records: RU 7-7 (3-3 Big South), HPU 5-7 (3-3 Big South)
Next HPU Event: Tuesday, March 16 — vs. Longwood (Williard Stadium, High Point, N.C.), 4 p.m.
HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University baseball team was swept by Radford University this weekend after dropping both games of a doubleheader on Saturday (March 13). It marks the first time the Panthers have been swept in a weekend series since May 10-12, 2019, against Gardner-Webb.
One weekend after scoring 31 runs in three games, HPU’s offense struggled to get much going, totaling eight runs in the series. High Point committed more errors than runs scored this weekend with a total of 10 mishaps in the series – six of them coming in game one of the doubleheader.
Cole Singsank led the Panthers with five hits in eight at bats on Saturday, picking up a double in each game. Singsank had two hits in the first game and three in the second, giving him a total of four multi-hit games on the season, tied for the third-most on the team. Peyton Carr is one of the two Panthers with more multi-hit games than Singsank as Carr sent two balls over the wall in left-center in the first game in back-to-back at bats for his fifth game with multiple hits, tying him with Joe Johnson for the most this year. That gives him a team-leading three homers on the season and HPU two players with multi-homer games already in the campaign, something the Purple and White have not had since the 2018 season.
Carter Sheppard had a career-day coming out of the bullpen in the second game, throwing a career-high 90 pitches over a career-high 6.0 innings of work. The redshirt freshman didn’t allow a run in his appearance, the second time this season he’s pitched without allowing an earned run. He only gave up three hits and walked two while striking out six to match his career-best.
The outing lowered his ERA on the season to 1.10, the best in the Big South among qualifying pitchers with at least one inning pitched per team game played. Along with Grey Lyttle having the fourth-best ERA in the conference (2.25), the Panthers are the only team in the Big South to have two pitchers in the top-five of ERAs and are only joined by next week’s opponent USC Upstate with two in the top 10.
The defensive miscues came early and often in game one for HPU, with the first occurring on the second pitch of the game. Radford’s speedy leadoff hitter reached on an infield single but the throw was wild and allowed him to take second. He advanced to third on a sac bunt and later came around to score on a sac fly to get the Highlanders on the board in the first.
High Point knotted things up in the second with a two-out RBI single from Travis Holt. Singsank doubled to the gap in right with two outs and came around to score when Holt smoked one past the second baseman. Holt made it to third on a single from Sam Zayicek but a popup to third left the runners on the corners.
Radford retook the lead in the third inning and didn’t lose it after that, taking advantage of a pair of Panther errors in the inning. Two more High Point errors in the fifth proved costly, allowing the Highlanders to score four in the frame. The leadoff batter reached on one and then stole second before a one-out walk was issued to put two on. Another walk loaded the bases and all three came around to score on the next at bat.
A single to right scored the runners from second and third, and an errant throw to the plate allowed the third run to score from first and the batter to safely advance to third. He later came around to score on a groundout to first. The Highlanders tacked two more on in the sixth with a two-RBI single with the bases loaded that came on the 13th pitch of the at bat.
High Point got one back in the bottom of the sixth when Carr hit his first home run of the day to left-center. He was up again in the seventh and improved on his earlier effort, this time sending a three-run shot over the wall to plate Johnson and Ryan Russell, just over the glove of the Highlander defender trying to make the robbery at the fence, to make it 8-5. HPU only had one more baserunner after the second home run and Radford tacked on one more in the ninth to take game one, 9-5.
Radford had used a lot of bunting and small ball to move runners around the basepaths in the first two games of the series but took it to another level in the second inning of game two on Saturday, laying down four different bunts to bring four runs across. Two walks started the inning and the bases were loaded after a bunt single before a double to right plated two. The small ball started after that, with the next three Highlander batters laying down sacrifice bunts to score two more and put a runner on third before a groundout ended the inning.
The four runs were all Radford needed in the game, holding HPU to just two, with both coming in the sixth inning. Carr singled up the middle to start the inning and took second when Russel drew a pinch-hit walk. Blake Sutton was up next and took the Radford small-ball approach, laying down a sac bunt to get both runners in scoring position. Carr scored when Singsank ripped one hard to third for an infield single and Russell came home on a sac fly from Holt to cut the deficit in half.
Neither team picked up a hit in the seventh or eighth innings, but each team had one in the ninth. Radford had two in the final inning, getting back-to-back singles to start the inning and put runners on the corners. The runner on first was retired two pitches later when the Highlander batter ripped a liner right back up the box at Panther pitcher Chris Apecechea, who showed some quick reflexes to snag the ball and get the flip over to first for the double play.
High Point got a leadoff single from Singsank in the ninth to bring the tying run to the plate. Singsank moved 90 feet closer on a fly ball to right but a pair of strikeouts, including one on a 13-pitch at bat, ended the Panthers’ rally.
HPU will look to put the weekend behind it and bounce back with the team’s first midweek game of the season on Tuesday (March 16). Longwood will occupy the third-base dugout for a conference matchup before the Panthers lead the Triad for the first time this season when they head to Spartanburg for a three-game set with conference-leading USC Upstate next weekend (March 19-20).