HPU Baseball Panthers Take Game Two in Split with Radford

Site: Radford, Va. (Sherman Carter Memorial Stadium)
Records: HPU 12-18 (10-13 Big South), RAD 17-15 (11-11 Big South)
Next HPU Event: Sunday, April 25 — at Radford (Radford, Va.), 2 p.m.

RADFORD, Va. – The High Point University baseball team split a doubleheader with Radford University on Friday (April 23), dropping the first game before rebounding with a victory in the evening.

Radford took the first game 11-3 behind a seven-run fifth inning to make it two games in a row the Panthers have given up seven runs in a single frame. HPU was able to earn the split with a 7-5 victory in the second game behind a pair of home runs from Brady Pearre and Joe Johnson. Johnson and Pearre were two of four Panthers with multiple hits in the second game, along with Adam Stuart and Blake Sutton.

Pearre, Johnson, and Stuart all had hits in the first game as well, extending Johnson’s and Stuart’s hitting streaks to six and five games, respectively. Cole Singsank and Travis Holt each picked up a pair of hits in the first game but Singsank failed to get one in the second, ending his hitting streak at six games.

High Point racked up 11 hits in game one and 10 more in the second to make it three straight games with double-digit hits and six such games of the last seven for the Purple and White. On the season, Friday’s games make it 14 games in double digits in the hit column.

Game One: Radford 11, High Point 3
W: Greg Duncan (5-0), L: CJ Neese (1-1)

Radford struck first, sending a shot over the wall in left for an early 2-0 lead. High Point was able to get one of those back in the second when Cameron Irvine brought home Peyton Carr. Carr drew a leadoff walk and moved into scoring position on a sac bunt from Pearre. That proved to be the difference-maker as Irvine sent a bloop single into shallow right for the RBI. Carr was moving on contact with two outs and motored home to cut the deficit in half.

The Panthers tied it up two innings later in the fourth when Singsank came home on a groundout from Pearre. Singsank singled through the left side of the infield to start the inning and moved to second on a wild pitch. He advanced to third when Carr flew out to left and came home in the next at bat when Pearre grounded out to short to level the game at two.

HPU briefly took the lead in the top of the fifth when Ryan Russell came home as a pinch runner. Sam Zayicek singled with one out in the inning and then moved to third when Holt singled to right. Zayicek showed signs of discomfort coming into third and was taken out of the game for Russell. Holt took off looking to steal second and was thrown out but Russell came home for the 3-2 lead.

The lead didn’t last for long as the Highlanders put up seven runs in the bottom of the inning to take the lead back for good. Radford batted around in the inning, sending 11 total batters to the plate. High Point mustered five hits over the remaining four innings and put a runner on third twice but couldn’t find a way to bring another run home as the hosts added two more runs late for the 11-3 victory in game one.

Game Two: High Point 7, Radford 5
W: Carter Sheppard (1-3), L: Ryan Bywaters (2-3)

This time it was High Point scoring in the opening frame when Carr came around in the fourth at bat of the day. He singled through the hole in the left side of the infield with one out and then moved to second when Singsank drew a walk. Stuart was up next and singled to right to bring home Carr for the game’s first run.

The Panthers maintained the one-run lead until the bottom of the third when the Highlanders got on the board. A pair of bunt singles and stolen bases put two runners in scoring position with no outs. A groundout to short brought one home but the Purple and White were able to limit the damage and got the next two batters on groundouts to first to end the third even at one.

HPU took the lead back and added an insurance run in the fourth when Pearre and Justin Ebert scored. Pearre started the inning off with a double to center, bringing up Ebert. Ebert grounded out to the pitcher, who threw to third thinking he’d get Pearre but Pearre held up allowing both runners to be safe. Russell advanced both into scoring position with a sac bunt and Pearre came home on a foul-out to third from Sutton. He caught the defense napping and broke home on the popup in foul territory when no one was covering the plate. Ebert also took advantage of the defense and moved up to third on the throw, setting up him scoring on an error at third in the next at bat to make it 3-1.

The sixth inning was a big one for High Point as the Panthers put up four runs thanks to two home runs to open a 7-1 lead. Pearre led the inning off with a solo shot to left for his fourth homer of the season. Russell doubled to left-center after an out but had to be helped off the field after sliding into second, with David Coleman coming in to replace him. Sutton was up next and doubled to the gap in left to plate Coleman for Sutton’s second RBI of the game. Sutton came home two batters later when Johnson stepped up belted his team-leading sixth home run of the season over the wall in right to get the Purple and White to seven runs.

Radford got two of those back in the bottom half of the sixth after stringing together three hits in the inning, cutting High Point’s lead to 7-3 heading into the final three innings. The Highlanders hit a homer in the eighth to pull within three and then had something brewing in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded with no outs. A pair of strikeouts put HPU one out away from getting the win but a walk brought a run home and put the winning run on first. That’s as far as he got as the next batter grounded out to short to give High Point the 7-5 victory.

Carter Sheppard relieved starter Teddy Merritt in the fourth inning and pitched the final 5.2 innings to get the win. He threw a career-high 104 pitches and racked up five strikeouts on the day with seven hits and four runs. Merritt logged 3.1 innings in the start and gave up one run on four hits.

High Point and Radford will play the rubber match of the series on Sunday (April 25), with first pitch scheduled for 2 p.m.