HPU Baseball: Late Rally Comes Up Short on Senior Day

Site: High Point, N.C. (Williard Stadium)
Score: USC Upstate 10, High Point 6
W: Jordan Marks (9-1), L: Grey Lyttle (4-5), S: Sean Hupp (4)
Records: UPST 31-10 (22-9 Big South), HPU 14-22 (12-16 Big South)
Next HPU Event: Saturday, May 8 — vs. USC Upstate (DH) (Williard Stadium, High Point, N.C.), 2 p.m.

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University baseball team fell to USC Upstate 10-6 on Friday evening (May 7) on Senior Day at Williard Stadium.

High Point led 3-1 after the second inning but gave up six unanswered over the middle innings to flip the lead over to the Spartans, where it remained for the rest of the game. Three different Panthers hit home runs for the first time this season as Blake Sutton, Cameron Irvine, and Travis Holt all left the ballpark for HPU’s sixth multi-home run game and the most homers in a contest since hitting four against UNC Asheville in March.

Irvine and Holt each hit theirs in the eighth inning and saw the deficit shrink to just one run at 7-6. It was the third time this season that the Purple and White have had multiple home runs in the same inning as the Panthers accomplished the feat in the four-homer game against Asheville and in a 7-5 victory at Radford on April 23, with both of those instances involving Brady Pearre and Joe Johnson. The comeback was not completed in the ninth, however, as Upstate put three runs on the board to pull away for the four-run victory.

High Point issued 11 walks in the contest, the second time hitting double digits – both coming against Upstate. Both games in question also saw the Panthers pick up seven strikeouts and charged with eight earned runs as Grey Lyttle started Friday’s game and struck out four in 4.1 innings of work. Carter Sheppard had two Ks in an inning of action and Nick Hernandez threw the other strikeout in an outing of 3.1 innings pitched.

The Panthers opened the scoring in the first frame when Cole Singsank hit a sac fly to right field to score Johnson. Johnson started the game off for High Point with a single to right and moved to third when Peyton Carr put one into the gap in right-center, setting up Singsank’s RBI. Upstate countered with a sac fly to right of its own in the second after loading the bases but Lyttle was able to leave two stranded after giving up just the one.

HPU’s remaining runs came on long balls, with the first one happening in the bottom of the second. Pearre started the inning off with a single to left-center that brought Sutton to the plate. He gave the third pitch he saw a ride into right-center and the ball landed just over the wall beneath the scoreboard to give the Panthers a two-run lead with his first career home run.

After a pair of scoreless innings in the third and fourth, Upstate scored five in the fifth to take the lead for the first time and held onto it the rest of the way. Three of the first four batters of the inning doubled to tie the game at three and the go-ahead run was walked in with the bases loaded. High Point tried to turn two and get out of the inning in the next at bat but only got the runner at second as the Spartans scored another run. That set up their fifth and final run of the frame coming home on an error four pitches later to make it 6-3. Upstate took advantage of another error in the seventh inning to add one more before High Point’s offense was able to do more damage in the eighth.

Irvine led the inning off and put a charge into one over the wall in left for his first homer as a Panther and get HPU on the board for the first time since the second inning. After a groundout to short, Sutton worked back from an 0-2 count to draw a walk to bring Holt to the plate. Holt also fell behind in the count 0-2 but fouled the next one away to extend the at bat and sent the next pitch he saw nearly to the same spot as Irvine’s for his first long ball of the season and sixth of his career to pull the Panthers within one, 7-6.

The deficit widened once again in the top of the ninth after Upstate loaded the bases with a pair of walks and a single. That brought up the reigning Big South Player of the Week for the Spartans in Julian Rip, who sent the ball into the corner in left to clear the bases and get the visitors into double digits as part of a five-RBI night for him. Singsank mustered a single up the gut in the bottom of the ninth but that was all High Point had in the final inning as back-to-back fly balls to left ended the game.

High Point and USC Upstate conclude their season series on Saturday (May 8) with a doubleheader at Williard Stadium. First pitch in game one is scheduled for 2 p.m., with game two slated to begin approximately 45 minutes after the conclusion of the first.