Site: Elon, N.C. (Latham Park)
Score: Elon 8, High Point 7
W: Joe Sprake (4-0), L: Mason Kearney (0-2)
Records: Elon 8-13 (1-2 CAA), HPU 9-15 (7-9 Big South)
Next HPU Event: Friday, April 9 — at Longwood (Farmville, Va.), 5 p.m.
ELON, N.C. – The High Point University baseball program dropped a non-conference midweek matchup to Elon University 8-7 Tuesday evening (April 6). It was the first midweek loss of the season for HPU and the first non-conference game since playing UNCG in a doubleheader on Feb. 28.
Joe Johnson had a big day at the plate for the Purple and White, going 3-4 with three extra-base hits – all of which were as the leadoff batter of the inning. He had doubles to the gap on either side of center to start and then ripped a solo home run in the seventh. He was one of two Panthers with multiple hits in the game along with Evan Bergman, who had a pair of singles and drove in a run.
Elon got on the board early with a homer in the first but High Point didn’t trail for long, answering with two in the top of the second. Sam Zayicek reached on a throwing error to start the inning and advanced to second when the throw skipped out of play. Bergman then singled to put runners on the corners, setting up a groundout-RBI for Tyler Leach to even the score. Bergman took second on the play and then stole third to allow Travis Holt to score him with a sac fly to left. The Phoenix looked like they might tie things up in the bottom of the inning after three straight walks loaded the bases but Chris Apecechea came in out of the pen and fanned the first batter he faced to get out of the inning with the lead intact.
The Panthers’ offense kept the pressure on in the third, putting up two more to widen their lead. Johnson ripped a leadoff double – his second of the game – to start and came around when Brady Pearre did the same down the right-field line. Zayicek came up with Pearre still on second and two outs. He found the hole on the left side and Pearre got on his horse to just barely beat the throw at the plate to make it 4-1. The insurance runs came in handy as Elon matched HPU’s output with two in the third of its own, hitting a second home run and scoring on a sac fly to make it a one-run game again.
Elon tied it up one inning later in the fourth and it remained tied at four until Johnson broke the tie with one swing of the bat. He led off the seventh inning and picked up his third leadoff extra-base hit of the game with a solo homer over the wall in right-center to give High Point back the lead. The lead didn’t last long as three straight walks to start the seventh loaded the bases and Elon brought two around on a pair of infield groundouts to regain the lead, 6-5.
The bottom of the seventh kicked off a streak of three consecutive two-run half innings to flip-flop the lead four times throughout the seventh and eighth innings. HPU briefly retook the lead in the top of the eighth with its final two runs of the game, taking the lead on a sac fly from Peyton Carr that scored Holt. A pair of one-out walks put two runners on and Blake Sutton brought Tyler Leach home with a pinch-hit RBI ground-rule double, putting Sutton on second and Holt at third. Johnson was intentionally walked and Carr stepped up and put one deep to left to bring home Holt.
Elon countered with two in the bottom of the eighth, rattling off two singles and drawing a walk with one out to load the bases. The Panthers tried to turn two on a grounder to second to end the inning unscathed but the batter beat the relay and two runs came around, proving to be the difference in the game.
High Point wraps up its road trip this weekend with a conference series at Longwood before returning home for a rematch with the Phoenix next week. HPU and the Lancers will meet Friday (April 9) at 5 p.m. before playing a doubleheader on Saturday (April 10), starting at 1 p.m.