Site: Spartanburg, S.C. (Harley Field)
Score: High Point 3, USC Upstate 1
W: Grey Lyttle (2-3), L: Jordan Marks (3-1), S: Parker Dean (1)
Records: HPU 7-7 (5-3 Big South), UPST 12-3 (5-3 Big South)
Next HPU Event: Saturday, March 20 — at USC Upstate (DH) (Spartanburg, S.C.), 1 p.m.
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The High Point University baseball team had its first road game of the season on Friday (March 19) and used a burst of offense in the late innings to pick up the 3-1 victory over USC Upstate.
Two of the best pitchers in the Big South were facing off in the game in High Point’s Grey Lyttle and Upstate’s Jordan Marks. Lyttle got the better in this one, picking up his second win of the season in his fourth quality start after surrendering only three hits in six innings of shutout work with eight strikeouts. Marks was handed his first loss of the season with one run allowed on six hits with five strikeouts in 6.2 innings. The two entered tied atop the conference lead for strikeouts, with Lyttle taking a three-strikeout lead at 40-37 on the season after Friday’s affair.
The Panthers switched up their batting order a bit, dropping Brady Pearre down to the three-hole and moving Joe Johnson and Peyton Carr up to the leadoff and two-hole, respectively. The change seemed to work as Johnson and Pearre combined for five hits and both of High Point’s RBIs, including the second home run in as many games for Johnson.
High Point had the first threat of the day in the second when Blake Sutton doubled down the line in left to start the inning. He was later put out at third when Cameron Irvine reached on a fielder’s choice. Sam Zayicek then walked and both moved into scoring position on a wild pitch but were stranded there on a groundout to short.
Upstate also put a runner on third in the second, having runners on the corners with one out after a Panther error. The threat was quickly neutralized thanks to a hard-hit ball to second that started a 4-6-3 double play to turn two and get out of the inning.
HPU had Johnson on third in the fifth inning after a double and a wild pitch but a fly ball to left ended the inning before he could take the final 90 feet. The seventh was a different story as the Purple and White finally got on the scoresheet to break the scoreless tie.
Travis Holt started the inning off with a single to left and then took second on a sacrifice bunt. He came around to score three batters later when Pearre ripped a single up the middle to plate Holt and move Johnson to second after he drew a walk. Cole Singsank was up next and took a base on balls to load the bases with two outs but a grounder to second ended the inning before the Panthers could extend their lead.
The bottom of the seventh and the eighth inning were uneventful, with High Point getting some insurance runs in the ninth. Johnson homered to right, his first non-opposite-field home run of the season to lead things off and make it 2-0. Carr followed by drawing a walk and moving to second on a single from Pearre. Singsank hit one towards the third baseman next and reached on an error that moved everyone up a base and scored Carr for the 3-0 lead.
Sutton reached on a bunt single to load the bases with no outs before Irvine sent one to right. His flyball was caught and Pearre took off for the plate but the throw from the right fielder was in time and on-target to get him at the plate.
Upstate was able to take one back in the ninth, starting the inning with a bunt single and moving him to third with a hit batter and a single to left. A bases-loaded walk brought the one run home before two consecutive popups to first sealed the victory for the Panthers.
High Point will look to take the series with one win in two chances tomorrow as part of Saturday’s doubleheader (March 20). Game one will start at 1 p.m., with game two beginning approximately 45 minutes after the completion of the first.