Site: High Point, N.C. (Williard Stadium)
Score: High Point 9, Campbell 4
W: Griffyn Shelton (1-0), L: Brendan Wright (0-1), S: Parker Dean (2)
Records: HPU 8-9 (6-5 Big South), CU 10-8 (5-5 Big South)
Next HPU Event: Friday, March 26 — vs. Gardner-Webb (Williard Stadium, High Point, N.C.), 4 p.m.
HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University baseball team won a crucial Big South matchup over Campbell University on Tuesday evening (March 23), 9-4.
The win moved the Panthers into fourth place in the Big South standings and just one game behind third place. The fourth-place spot has extra significance this year as only the top-four teams in the standings at the end of the season will advance to the Big South Conference Tournament at Segra Stadium in Fayetteville, N.C.
“I loved Joe Johnson at the top of the lineup, he had a huge night for us,” responded head coach Craig Cozart when asked what he liked from Tuesday’s win. “Adam Stuart added a home run as well and offensively I thought we did a good job of staying in our approach. We laid off on a lot of borderline pitches that allowed us to create offense from them putting us on base free. We had six guys on the mound and every one of them went out and pitched aggressively. [Campbell] hit one ball out of the ballpark but other than that there wasn’t much offensive production from that end. We also played flawless defense on a rainy night. To do all those things and get the win was very important for us in league play.”
Johnson and Stuart each sent one over the fence that everyone knew was gone from the moment they left the bat, with the two each picking up two hits in the game. Johnson’s was a three-run shot and Stuart combined his solo homer with a hit-by-pitch RBI later to be the only two Panthers with multiple runs driven in on the day. Joining the duo with multiple hits was Peyton Carr, who had two and scored two runs to move into second place in runs scored on the team with 13 so far this year.
The Panthers got on the board early, putting two runs on the board in their half of the first. After reaching on a walk, Johnson came around to score while Campbell was turning a double play before the second run of the inning came as Blake Sutton knocked in Carr on a single through the left side to give HPU a 2-0 lead after six outs.
It was another bullpen game for the Panthers as David Keith started on the mound before Chris Apecechea pitched a scoreless second. The Panthers turned to Teddy Merritt in the third and Campbell got on the board with a two-run homer to left to tie the game. Dawson Place was the next man up out of the pen in the fourth and kept the Fighting Camels at bay in two innings of work, picking up three strikeouts and allowing no hits and just one walk. Campbell took its first lead of the game in the sixth after a one-out double, which came around two batters later to make it 3-2.
High Point wasted no time taking back the lead, putting up four in the sixth to take it for good. Justin Ebert led off the inning with a walk and Travis Holt reached on a fielder’s choice to put the runners on first and second with no outs. The two advanced on a wild pitch before Johnson sent a no-doubter over the wall in right for the three-run homer that proved to bring home the game-winning run.
Johnson had a little extra emphasis on his bat flip after the home run, drawing a warning to both benches after some extra jawing across the diamond. Brady Pearre reached on a walk a few batters later and was brought in on a Cole Singsank triple that stretched the Panthers’ lead to three, 6-3.
The Fighting Camels got one back in the seventh, but the Panthers matched it in the bottom half of the frame when Stuart sent a long ball over the left-field wall to push the lead back to three. It was another no-doubter from the moment it left his bat – his first of the season. High Point took advantage of some Camel mistakes in the eighth inning, extending its lead by two more.
The first pitch of the eighth hit Johnson and was deemed to be in retaliation for his home run by the umpire, leading to the pitcher and Campbell head coach being ejected. That led the visitors to do some defensive maneuvering, bringing their first basemen in to pitch, their right fielder to first, and a substitution in right. The new pitcher struggled to find the zone, walking the next two batters and throwing two wild pitches that led to Johnson scoring.
First base was open and the Fighting Camels decided to intentionally put Sutton on first and send the fielders back to their initial positions after a pitcher had enough time to warm-up in the bullpen and enter. That didn’t help Campbell too much either, as his second pitch hit Stuart to bring home another run before ending the inning with a double play.
Parker Dean threw the longest for the Panthers, going the final three innings of the contest while picking up three strikeouts with one run and two hits allowed for his second save of the season. Griffyn Shelton was in line for the win after pitching the sixth, picking up the first victory of his career.
High Point will be back in action as it hosts Gardner-Webb for another Big South series this weekend. Game one of the series is set for Friday afternoon (March 26) at 4 p.m. before wrapping up with a doubleheader on Saturday (March 27) that begins at 1 p.m. It’ll be the last weekend series at Williard for a while, as it’s only midweeks at home for the Purple and White until the first full weekend of May.