HPU Baseball Panthers Earn Doubleheader Split in Offensive Slugfest

Site: Rock Hill, S.C. (The Winthrop Ballpark)
Records: HPU 14-21 (12-15 Big South), WU 12-22 (9-17 Big South)
Next HPU Event: Tuesday, May 4 — vs. North Carolina A&T (Williard Stadium, High Point, N.C.), 6 p.m.

ROCK HILL, S.C. – After nearly a combined eight hours of play on Saturday (May 1), the High Point University baseball team came away with a split in a doubleheader at Winthrop University. HPU lost the first game on a walk-off homer in 10 innings, 11-10, before rebounding with an offensive explosion in game two with a 19-15 victory.

Game one was High Point’s first walk-off loss since 2018 at Wake Forest on an RBI single in the ninth inning. The two games were the longest two of the season for High Point, with game one’s extra-inning battle lasting 3:48 and the game-two slugfest taking 4:08 to complete for a total game time of 7:56 for the 19 innings. Game two was High Point’s first four-hour game since an 18-8 loss to Liberty in 2018 that took 4:17 to complete.

“This was one of the most excruciating days of baseball, but one of the most invigorating days of baseball that I’ve been involved in,” head coach Craig Cozart surmised when the day was done. “To lose game one like we did was gut-wrenching, but to see the guys come back and the offense continue to put up a ton of runs and play with a ton of energy and the toughness and hardness that we’ve wanted to see all year – I couldn’t be prouder of the guys. Guys up and down the lineup had huge days and we played very well defensively and then Grey Lyttle took things into his own hands and got the last 10 outs of the day via strikeout. I tip my cap to Winthrop. They played extremely hard all weekend but I’m really proud of our guys and excited that we were able to win the series.”

Lyttle bookended the day on the mound for the Purple and White, starting on the bump in the first game of the day and going just two innings before entering in relief in the second game to get the final 10 outs for his first save of the season. Lyttle recorded 10 strikeouts in the 10 outs (two of the strikeouts reached on a wild pitch and an error) to become the first Panther with 10 strikeouts in an outing since Harrison Smith recorded 11 punchouts against Longwood in 2019.

As a team, High Point recorded 16 strikeouts in the second game for the most this season and the most since throwing 16 Ks against North Carolina Central in 2019. It’s the third time in the last three years HPU has picked up more than 15 strikeouts in a single game and just the fifth time the Purple and White have done so in their Division I history – one away from matching the record of 17 set at Winthrop in 2006.

Three different Panthers tallied four hits over the two games and two players ended the day with five RBIs. Cole Singsank was the only one in both categories as he had three hits and four RBIs in game one, followed by one hit and one run driven in for the second game. Brady Pearre and Peyton Carr were the other two with four hits as Pearre had his second four-hit performance of the season in game two while Carr added three knocks, including one double, in the game as well.

Travis Holt was the other Panther with five RBIs on the day and drove in all five in the second game to tie for the seventh-most in a game in program history and be the first to record five RBIs in a game since Carson Jackson in 2018. Coupled with his four runs driven in from Friday’s game, Holt totaled nine in the weekend series and 10 across the four total games this week. Adam Stuart also had a big game in the RBI department in the second game with four runs driven in for his second four-RBI game this season.

Holt and Pearre also each legged out a triple in the nightcap to make it just the 16th game in High Point’s 1,166 Division I games that the Purple and White ended the day with multiple triples, and the first since hitting three against Ohio State in 2018.

HPU was credited with 43 at bats in the second game for the most all season and most since recording as many in a win over Presbyterian in the 2019 Big South Tournament. After having 42 at bats in Friday’s game, it’s the first time the Panthers have had more than 40 at bats in the same series since doing it in all three games in a sweep of Radford during the 2013 season (42-43-41 ABs).

The second game was also just the sixth time High Point has scored at least 19 runs in a game in its Division I history and the first since putting up a record-tying 25 runs against North Carolina A&T in 2014. The 19 hits in the game mark the 18th time this season HPU has reached double digits in the hit column and is the third time with 15 or more. It’s also the most since putting up as many in last year’s season-opening win over Lafayette.

High Point and Winthrop combined for 34 runs in the game, tied for the fourth-most combined runs in a game in HPU’s D1 history and the most since the Panthers and Radford totaled 35 in an 18-17 loss to the Highlanders back in April of 2010. The Purple and White totaled an even 40 runs in the series, which also dates back to 2010 as the most runs High Point has scored in a three-game conference series since putting up 41 on Charleston Southern in the final weekend of the regular season that year.

Game One Score: Winthrop 11, High Point 10 (10 Innings)
W: Willie Lumpkin (2-1), L: Carter Sheppard (1-4)

Winthrop chased Lyttle early in the first game, putting up four runs in the first two innings to get him out of the game after throwing just 44 pitches and facing 12 batters. He picked up two outs on five pitches to start the game but gave up the first run of the day after a single and a double brought the run home. The Eagles extended the lead by three in the second, starting with a homer to left. An error on a throw down to first on a sac bunt two batters later brought another run in and a double to the gap in left gave Winthrop a 4-0 lead.

High Point answered in the top of the third and put up four runs while batting around to tie the game up. Blake Sutton started the inning with a single to right and moved to second when Jackson Melton singled to center with one out. A popup in foul territory put two outs on the board but Carr drew a walk to load the bases. Singsank followed Carr to the plate and picked up his first RBI of the day when he worked the count full after falling behind 1-2 to draw an RBI walk.

Three unearned runs followed Singsank’s walk and two of them came when the second baseman fielded a grounder from Adam Stuart that looked like it would end the inning but a wild throw to first meant Stuart was safe and Melton and Carr crossed the plate after running on contact to pull within one. Cameron Irvine was up next and knocked an RBI single to right field, scoring Singsank to even the game up.

The score remained tied until the fifth inning when HPU took its only lead of the ballgame. Joe Johnson stayed tough in an 0-2 count and put one in the gap in right to start the inning and later came home when Singsank ripped a double down the line in left for his second RBI of the game. His insurance run was stranded at second, however, as a fly ball to center and a groundout to second ended the inning.

High Point’s lead didn’t last for long as Winthrop erased it with one swing of the bat in the bottom of the inning. A pair of walks started the inning and then a three-run homer flipped the lead back to the Eagles at 7-5. Winthrop’s third home run of the game in the sixth inning increased the lead to three before the Panthers started to chip away.

Johnson drew a five-pitch walk with one out in the seventh and made it to third when Carr sent one over the right fielder’s head on a 3-1 count to put two runners in scoring position. Both advanced 90 feet, with Johnson coming around to score, in the next at bat courtesy of a wild pitch. The wild pitch came with Singsank at the plate and he gave the next pitch a ride into center field to score Carr for another RBI. Singsank was out at second on a fielder’s choice but a hit batter and a walk loaded the bases with two outs. Unfortunately, the Panthers left them loaded as a fly ball to left kept the potential tying run 90 feet away.

Winthrop got one of the two runs back in the bottom of the seventh with an RBI single to left with two outs. Trailing by two entering the final two innings, High Point got the two runs it needed in the eighth inning to tie the game up yet again. Holt began the inning with a single to left and moved into scoring position when Johnson was hit on the leg with the first pitch he saw. A fly ball to center put two outs on the board but brought up the hot bat of Singsank.

Singsank saw seven pitches before he found the one he liked and singled to center to score Holt. A wild throw in from the center fielder bounced over the cut-off man’s head and made it to the backstop, allowing Johnson to score and moving Singsank to third. Once again, the potential go-ahead run was left on base as a flyout to right ended HPU’s rally with the score tied at nine.

Both teams only sent three batters to the plate in the next two half-innings and the Panthers stranded the winning run on second in the bottom of the ninth to reach extra innings for the first time this season and first time since the second game of the 2020 campaign.

Since it was a doubleheader, the international tiebreaker was used and Sutton began the extra frame on second. He moved up to third on a sacr bunt from Holt and came home on a sacrifice fly from Justin Ebert to give High Point the lead for the first time since the fifth inning. Winthrop also moved its placed runner to third with a sac bunt and scored him on a high chopper to third. Ebert’s only play with it was at first and he took the sure out to get one out away from heading to the 11th.

The game never got that far as the Eagles sent one over the wall in right five pitches later to level the series at one game apiece with the walk-off win, 11-10. It was the fourth home run of the game for Winthrop, the most a High Point pitching staff has allowed in a game since giving up four to Wake Forest during the 2019 season.

Game Two Score: High Point 19, Winthrop 15
W: Sean Duffy (1-0), L: Jason Crumley (0-3), S: Grey Lyttle (1)

The 21 runs in 10 innings in the first game was just an appetizer for the offensive frenzy in the second game as the teams combined for 22 runs after just three innings of the rubber match. High Point got the scoring started early and often with six runs in the opening frame – the second time the Panthers have ambushed an opponent with a six-spot on the road to start a game this season. HPU scored in six innings total in the game, including each of the first five, while the Eagles only scored in four of the first five frames.

Johnson looked like he was going to get the party started with a single up the middle to start game two but a great diving stop and throw from the Eagles’ shortstop took away his hit and turned it into the first out of the game. It was only a small reprieve for the hosts as the next six High Point batters reached base to start the onslaught.

Carr doubled to center for the first of 19 hits and Singsank drew a four-pitch walk to put two runners on. Stuart was up next and sent one to the wall in right-center for a long single that plated Carr and moved Singsank to third. Irvine followed that by singling to left to score Singsank, and Pearre went the opposite direction with the first pitch he saw to load the bases for Holt.

Holt delivered the knockout punch to the Winthrop starter, putting one over the center fielder’s head and into the gap in left for a bases-clearing triple in an 0-2 count to make it 5-0 and chase the Eagles’ pitcher. The reliever came in and got a strikeout for the second out of the inning but Melton stepped up and hit an RBI single back up the middle to bring home Holt for the sixth and final run of the inning.

Winthrop cut the Panthers’ lead in half in the bottom of the inning with three unearned runs. The Eagles had a runner on first with two outs before a muffed grounder at third kept the inning alive with runners on first and second. The next batter up drove one into the corner in right for a double that scored one and put the other on third for two runners in scoring position. Both of those runners came home in the next at bat on back-to-back wild pitches to make it 6-3 after an eventful first.

HPU kept its foot on the gas and made up the three runs with three of its own in the second. Singsank walked for the second time in the game to start the inning and moved into scoring position when Stuart singled into left. Winthrop decided to go to the bullpen for the second time in as many innings and it didn’t go much better for the new pitcher as the next three batters all singled to drive in the three runs.

Irvine was the first batter he faced and he drove in Singsank and put Stuart on second with a hard-hit single into center field. Pearre offered himself up as a sacrifice with a bunt to move both of the runners into scoring position but laid down a perfect one to reach on a bunt single. The pitcher still tried to make the throw and rushed it, skipping it off the dirt and past the bag to allow Stuart to come home and Irvine and Pearre to move into scoring position. Only Irvine touched the plate out of the two and did so on a Holt single to left as a strikeout and a double play left Pearre on second.

Threes were wild early in the game as Winthrop matched High Point’s spot in the inning with its second three-run stanza of the game to cut the lead back down to three. Back-to-back doubles started the inning and brought home a run before HPU recorded a pair of outs. The final two runs of the inning came in the next at bat as Winthrop hit its first home run of the game and fifth of the day to make it 9-6 heading into the third after an hour of action in game two.

High Point only scored two in the third but it was enough to get the Purple and White into double digits for the third straight game and eighth time on the year. Johnson, Carr, and Singsank all hit hard ones back up the middle into center field to start the inning, with Singsank’s moving Carr to third and scoring Johnson. Stuart stepped into the box next and picked up his second RBI of the game with a sac fly to the warning track in straightaway center to plate Carr and make it 11-6.

Winthrop’s big inning of the day followed in the bottom of the third as the Eagles rallied to put five runs up and tie the game at 11. A hard-hit infield single ricocheted off the foot of the High Point pitcher, setting up a two-run homer just inside the foul pole in left field for the first two runs of the inning. A single and two walks loaded the bases and a double into the left-field corner brought home two and set up the game-tying sacrifice fly to center.

The game had a slight pause after the conclusion of the third inning as the sun started to cause problems at the plate. It was setting right in the eyes of the batter when looking at the pitcher on the mound and the game was halted for five minutes to allow the sun to get below the large batter’s eye in center and bathe the playing surface in shadows.

High Point came out of the break fired up and immediately got all five runs back in the top of the fourth. Holt looked at strike one but then watched four straight pitches miss the zone for a leadoff walk. Justin Wilkins was up next and laid down a sacrifice bunt to first to move Holt up. However, for the second time in the game, an HPU sac bunt was laid perfectly and Wilkins beat the throw for his third hit of the season and his career. The number-nine hitter Melton was up next and worked a five-pitch walk like Holt to load the bases for Johnson.

Johnson swung on the first pitch and took advantage of a misplay by the first baseman as every Panther safely moved up one base, with Holt coming home. Carr was up next and ripped a double down the line to bring home Wilkins and Melton, and Stuart followed suit to bring home Johnson with an RBI single two batters later.

HPU held the Eagles scoreless in the fourth inning for the first zero on the board and then added to the lead with a sac fly from Holt in the fifth. Pearre led the inning off and jumped on the first pitch he saw, sending it down the line in right. He was thinking triple all the way and came in with a full head of steam, sliding in just before the throw for the Purple and White’s second three-bagger of the game and setting up the RBI sac from Holt.

Winthrop got back on the scoresheet in the fifth with its final four runs of the day to make it a two-run ballgame. A single and a walk put two runners on and another single brought one home and put runners on the corners. High Point tried to turn two on a chopper up the middle to get out of the inning but could only get the first out at second to allow another run to score and just have two outs in the inning. A single and a double brought the third run of the inning in and back-to-back walks loaded the bases and gave one a free run to make it 17-15 after five.

Both teams put a goose egg on the board in the sixth and HPU scored the final two runs of the game in the seventh. Pearre took an 0-2 pitch down the line in left for a single and moved to second when Holt battled for his second walk of the day, this one coming after eight pitches. Sutton pinch hit for Wilkins and drew a walk to load the bases before being thrown out at second in an attempt for an inning-ending double play. The relay to throw out Melton at first was off target, allowing Pearre and Holt to both come home to put the score at 19-15.

Lyttle was called upon to get the final out of the sixth inning before HPU got the two runs and did so in emphatic fashion, blowing three fastballs by the Winthrop walk-off hero from game one. He picked up two more strikeouts in the seventh and added four more in the eighth. He struck out the first batter of the inning with a pitch in the dirt, but the batter ending up safe on first after beating the throw down. That was as far as he got as Lyttle sat down the next three on strikes as well, needing only 11 pitches to get the final three outs.

He got a popup to start the ninth and then recorded another strikeout that saw the batter reach first, this time on an error by the catcher on a throw down to first in the dirt. Lyttle walked the next batter to put two on but didn’t let another batter reach. He bared down and got the next two batters on strikes, including a seven-pitch strikeout after four fouls on the final batter to reach double-digit Ks for the first time and earn his seventh career save.

High Point returns home for its final non-conference game of the season on Tuesday (May 4) when fellow Triad school North Carolina A&T visits Williard Stadium for the first time since 2019 for a 6 p.m. matchup.