HPU Baseball Panthers End Home Slate with Doubleheader Loss

Site: High Point, N.C. (Williard Stadium)
Records: PC 17-20 (16-15 Big South), HPU 14-28 (12-22 Big South)
Next HPU Event: Thursday, May 20 — at Campbell (Buies Creek, N.C.), 6 p.m.

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University baseball team was swept in its final home series of the season after dropping both games of a doubleheader with Presbyterian College on Saturday (May 15).

An extra inning was needed in the first game of the twin bill before PC won 13-11 to take the series and then secured the sweep with a 10-6 victory over the Panthers in the nightcap. Game one was High Point’s second extra-inning game and extra-inning loss of the season after also falling in 10 innings in the first game of a doubleheader at Winthrop on the first day of the month.

Peyton Carr was the only Panther with multiple hits in both games as he picked up three in the first contest and two in the second, including a no-doubt homer to give him two in the series and a team-high seven on the year. It extends Carr’s hitting streak to 11 straight games, making him the only HPU player with a hitting streak in double digits this season.

Ryan Russell and Brady Pearre also had three knocks in the opening game of the day, part of 16 hits for the Purple and White – the second-most in a game all season. Russell drove in a team-high three runs in the first game and Pearre brought home two in each, getting both of his RBIs in the second game courtesy of a two-run homer to left. Blake Sutton picked up two hits in game one of the day and drove in a pair while Joe Johnson extended his hitting streak to a season-best nine straight games after getting a hit in both games and driving in two runs in the second game.

David Keith was on the mound to start the second game and notched his second quality start of the season. The freshman allowed three runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out a career-high 10 batters in six innings of action. Keith’s outing is the second 10-strikeout performance of the season for High Point after Grey Lyttle recorded 10 Ks in a 10-out save at Winthrop on May 1 this season. It’s the first time since 2017 that HPU has had two separate 10-strikeout performances from a pitcher when Matt Hodges (10) and Rion Murrah (11) did so in back-to-back games in the Big South Tournament that season.

Game One Score: Presbyterian 13, High Point 11
W: Kyle Benson (2-1), L: Carter Sheppard (1-5)

High Point got the scoring started in the first game, bringing around three runs on five singles in the opening frame. Carr had the first hit of the day for HPU and moved to second on a single past the diving shortstop from Cole Singsank before scoring on a ripper up the middle from Russell. Sutton beat out the throw from second for an infield single that moved Russell to third and allowed Singsank to score from second after both ran on contact with two outs. Russell came home in the next at bat when Pearre singled to right-center but a fly out to the same area stranded runners on the corners and ended the inning at three runs.

The lead didn’t last for long as Presbyterian got all three runs back with five hits of its own in the top of the second. A leadoff double was moved to third after a bunt single and a double down the line in left scored the runner from third and put two runners in scoring position. Both of the runners came home with two outs when a grounder got through the gap between first and second to level the score at three apiece.

Both teams put up zeros until the fifth inning when the scoring resumed with a vengeance. The Blue Hose put up another three-spot to start the stretch of offense from both sides after hitting back-to-back jacks with nobody out. HPU got two of the runs back in the bottom of the inning when Russell put one to the corner down the left-field line that scored Carr and Singsank after both had singled through the left side of the infield.

Presbyterian countered with one run in the sixth inning before the Panthers retook the lead for the first time since the second inning with three runs in the bottom of the frame. Pearre legged out an infield single to short and moved up to third when Jackson Melton singled to left. Pearre scored and Melton moved up 90 feet on a single from Carr and Melton scored from second in the next at bat on a wild pitch to tie the game. Carr advanced to third on the errant offering and scored on a similar pitch after ball four to Singsank was in the dirt and got away from the catcher to bring Carr home and give the Purple and White an 8-7 lead.

Once again, High Point didn’t hold the lead for long as the first pitch to Presbyterian in the seventh inning was taken over the wall in left to knot the game up once more. PC flipped the lead back to the Blue Hose later in the inning with a sac fly before HPU tied it up in the bottom of the inning. Russell had the Panthers’ third infield single of the game to start the inning and made it to second when the Presbyterian shortstop tried to rush a throw that ended up making it to the wall. That proved costly as Sutton took the first pitch he saw back up the box to bring home Russell and tie the game at nine.

That was the rest of the scoring in the regulation nine innings as the teams only combined for one hit in the eighth and ninth frames – coming off the bat of Johnson in the eighth – to send the game into extras. International tiebreaker rules were in effect as it was a doubleheader so each team began the 10th with a runner on second. Presbyterian loaded the bases before eventually bringing that runner home, part of a four-run 10th inning that gave the visitors the lead and cushion they needed for the win.

HPU got two of the runs back in the bottom of the inning but that was it as PC took the game 13-11. Sutton was the runner placed on second for the Panthers and he scored on the second pitch of the inning when Pearre singled to center. Pearre was retired on a double play two pitches later that send the Purple and White to their final out. Justin Ebert was sent out as a pinch hitter for Melton and the decision paid off as Ebert sent a 1-0 pitch out of the park in left field for his first-career home run of the season in what was High Point’s final run of the loss.

Game Two Score: Presbyterian 10, High Point 6
W: Howard Duncan (3-2), L: Sam Garcia (0-1), S: Eric Toth (6)

Presbyterian scored two in the first inning for the early lead and only lost it once during the contest and never played from behind in the 10-6 win. A walk, two singles, and a sac fly brought the two runs around before Keith picked up his first two strikeouts of the day to end the frame. HPU got one of the two back in the bottom of the first when Carr doubled to the gap in left to score Johnson after he drew a leadoff walk.

PC regained a two-run lead with a solo homer to left in the second before HPU level the game in the fourth. Ebert got the start at third and singled up the middle before coming home on Pearre’s blast down the line in left. It was Pearre’s sixth long ball of the season, moving him into a tie with Johnson for the second-most on the squad.

The score remained even at three until the seventh inning when the Blue Hose took advantage of a poor defensive inning from the Purple and White to blow the game open. High Point committed three errors in the inning, leading to all seven runs surrendered being unearned as the teams headed to the seventh-inning stretch with Presbyterian holding a 10-3 lead. The first five runs all scored directly on the three errors while the final two runs of the inning came on PC’s second home run of the game.

Carr responded with his home run in the bottom of the seventh, putting a massive charge into the ball to leave no doubt it was leaving the park for his seventh home run of the campaign. HPU only mustered two more in the eighth before the day was done, with both coming home on a single from Johnson. Pearre drew a walk with two outs and advanced to third after Adam Stuart singled through the left side of the infield and Travis Holt wore a pitch off the chest to load the bases. Johnson stepped up with two outs and sent the first pitch he saw to right-center to plate Pearre and Stuart in HPU’s final offensive act of the day in the 10-6 loss.

High Point finishes its 2021 season on the road next week with a three-game series at Big South-leading Campbell. The teams open the series on Thursday (May 20) with a 5 p.m. ballgame before closing out the regular season with a twinbill on Friday (May 21) that’s scheduled to start at 2 p.m.