HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point Rockers overcame a 3-2 deficit after seven innings, scoring twice in the eighth inning, to defeat the West Virginia Power 4-3 on Friday night in the first game of a three-game series at Truist Point.
With the Rockers trailing 3-2, Randy Norris led off the bottom of the eighth inning pinch-hitting for Jared Mitchell against West Virginia’s lefty reliever Joe Testa. Norris coaxed a walk and scored from first on Michael Martinez’s double to tie the game at 3-3. Norris showed none of the effects from a hamstring injury which sidelined him for a good portion of the early season. His head first slide at the plate was well ahead of the throw and tied the game at 3-3. Jerry Downs then singled to score Martinez from second and give the Rockers a 4-3 lead.
“Randy’s at-bat set the tone for us in the eighth,” said Rockers manager Jamie Keefe. “That’s his best at-bat in a month. Tonight, we had to grind it out. And griding out wins gets you over the top.”
Kyle Halbohn came on and retired the power in order in earning his third save of the year. It marked the second straight night that High Point’s closer retired the side in order in the ninth to secure the win.
The Rockers took the lead early when Stephen Cardullo led off the bottom of the second inning with a solo homer to left. It was his 11th homer of the season.
West Virginia tied the game in the third when, with two outs, Connor Myers’ bunt came to rest on the third base foul line. That was followed by an RBI double from DH Teodoro Martinez.
The Power scored twice in the fourth. Again with two outs, Yovan Gonzalez singled, just beating a throw from Giovanny Alfonzo following an acrobatic stop by the shortstop behind second base. Miles Williams then homered to left to give the Power a 3-1 lead.
High Point cut the lead to a single run at 3-2 in the sixth when Johnny Field doubled to the wall in right center and Jerry Downs followed with a double down the left field line, scoring Field.
High Point starter Craig Stem was solid, going seven innings and allowing just three runs. Jon Crawford threw a scoreless inning in the eighth to allow Halbohn to come on in the ninth.
“Being the closer is such an important role, I have a lot of adrenaline flowing when I get in,” said Halbohn.
“Kyle matches up well with these guys,” said Rockers manager Jamie Keefe.
Martinez and Downs each finished with two hits on the night. Crawford earned the win, his first of the year with the Rockers. West Virginia starter Elih Villanueva allowed four hits and struck out three over his six innings. Testa (0-2) took the loss.
High Point and West Virginia will play game two of their three game series on Saturday night with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Truist Point.