Site: High Point, N.C. (Williard Stadium)
Records: GWU 7-9 (6-4 Big South), HPU 8-12 (6-8 Big South)
Next HPU Event: Thursday, April 1 — at Charleston Southern (Charleston, S.C.), 6 p.m.
HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University baseball team was swept by Gardner-Webb University after completing the second and third games of the weekend series on Sunday (March 28).
Play on Sunday began with the remaining 6.5 innings of Saturday’s game (March 27), after game one of the scheduled doubleheader was suspended midway through the bottom of the third. The teams played that game to completion, with the Runnin’ Bulldogs coming from behind to win 5-4, and then played the final game of the series – won by Gardner-Webb 5-3 in a complete game from the GWU pitcher.
The Panthers used a good chunk of their lineup over the two games, playing 15 different position players and throwing eight arms on the day. Two HPU pitchers made their season debuts in the second game of the day in freshman Sam Garcia in his collegiate debut and Bryan Woelfel, who was making his first appearance since the 2019 season after recovering from a torn labrum.
Game One Score: Gardner-Webb 5, High Point 4
W: Sebasten Boivin (1-0), L: Parker Dean (1-1), S: Langdon Wilson (2)
High Point was leading 1-0 when Saturday’s game was halted, picking up the run when Justin Ebert singled through the left side of the infield to plate Cole Singsank. The Panthers were threatening early in the third before lightning in the area forced the stoppage, followed by heavy rains that kept the team off the field until the field was determined to be unplayable roughly five hours later. Joe Johnson ripped a double down the line in right with one out and Peyton Carr had a 3-1 count at the plate when the call was made.
The delay brought a premature end to Grey Lyttle’s day on the mound, which was an impressive one through three innings. The graduate student got the nine outs on 52 pitches and only gave up two hits with five strikeouts – four of which caught the Runnin’ Bulldog batters looking.
Play eventually resumed Sunday morning after a delay of just over 22 hours. Carr drew a walk and Johnson came around to score in the third on an error by the Gardner-Webb second baseman. HPU had two runners in scoring position after that when Carr took third and Brady Pearre reached second on a groundout to third by Singsank but a strikeout left the runners on.
Gardner-Webb answered in the fifth inning, tying things up with a two-run homer to right that was hit into strong winds. The Runnin’ Bulldogs took the lead two batters later after a single and a throwing error on a pickoff attempt put a runner in scoring position that came around to score on a single through the hole in the right side of the infield to give the visitors a 3-2 lead. Gardner-Webb added an insurance run in the seventh when a sac fly brought in an unearned run – the second unearned run of the game for the Panthers’ pitching staff.
High Point’s offense got going again in the bottom of the seventh, getting on the board for the first time since the resumption of play with two runs to knot the game up. Ebert led the inning off with a single, followed by a pinch-hit single from Ryan Russell and a bunt single from Travis Holt. Holt was initially offering himself up as a sacrifice to move the runners into scoring position but laid down a perfect bunt that was aided by the wet grass to beat the throw from the pitcher.
Johnson was up next and grounded one to first that got Ebert at home for the first out but kept the bases loaded. Carr followed and was hit by the first pitch he saw to bring around Russell. A popup to second put two outs on the board and Singsank drew a walk to plate Holt and tie the game up.
It didn’t stay tied for long was Gardner-Webb brought home another unearned run in the top of the eighth to take the lead for good. HPU looked to have a rally brewing in the bottom of the ninth when Johnson led off with his second double down the line in right of the game. He was thrown out at third one batter later trying to move 90 feet away from scoring after Carr grounded out to third, ending the Purple and White’s rally and giving the Runnin’ Bulldogs the series.
Game Two Score: Gardner-Webb 5, High Point 3
W: Kyle Ruehlman (1-0), L: Chris Apecechea (2-1)
Gardner-Webb did its damage early in the final game of the series, scoring four of its five runs in the first three innings. A two-out homer to left in the first opened the scoring, followed by a sac fly and a two-run shot in the third to put GWU up 4-0 early.
High Point broke onto the scoreboard in the fifth inning when Tyler Leach took off for second and got himself into a pickle between first and second long enough to allow Russell to come home before Leach was tagged out to end the inning. Gardner-Webb answered with a run of its own in the next half inning, bringing around the leadoff batter after a walk, wild pitch, and a single to make it 5-1.
The Panthers only had a runner in scoring position once more after that before the ninth inning, stranding Cameron Irvine on third in the seventh after a couple of singles in the inning. Irvine was up again with two outs in the ninth and singled through the right side. He came around to score when Russell stepped up and hit his first homer of the season down the line in left to put the potential tying run in the on-deck circle. That was as far as it got as a grounder to short ended HPU’s rally early, giving Gardner-Webb the series sweep with a 9-5 victory.
HPU doesn’t have a midweek game scheduled and will next take the field in Charleston for a three-game series at Charleston Southern on Thursday (April 1) and Friday (April 2). This weekend was the final weekend series at home for the Panthers for the next five weeks as there are only three Tuesday home games scheduled before the next home weekend series against USC Upstate scheduled for May 7-8.