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Lawrence Goes The Distance, Short-Circuits Power 8-3

By Steve Shutt, 08/14/21, 10:00PM EDT

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McOwen drives in three as Lawrence the first to throw 9 inning CG

HIGH POINT, N.C. – Tommy Lawrence became the first High Point Rockers pitcher to throw a nine inning complete game when he tossed a five-hitter in beating the West Virginia Power 8-3 Saturday night at Truist Point.

Lawrence became High Point’s first seven-game winner this season in improving his record to 7-2.  The Rockers rapped nine hits including two each from Stuart Levy and James McOwen and McOwen added a team-high three RBI.

Lawrence actually lost another game earlier in the year but it doesn’t show up on his record.  The Rockers picked him up on June 22 because they were in need of a spot starter.  Lawrence, a week before signing with High Point, actually lost a New Hampshire amateur men’s league game by a score of 4-1.

Lawrence was the pitching instructor at Power House Sports in New Hampshire and a local high school pitching coach.  He had no plans to become a starter in the professional ranks as recently as two months ago.  But today, he leads the Rockers in wins and has won each of his last four starts.

West Virginia scored in the top of the first when Connor Myers doubled into the leftfield corner.  He moved to third on an infield grounder and scored on a sacrifice fly by Alberto Callaspo.

The Rockers struck for three runs in the fourth inning.  West Virginia starter Junior Figueroa walked Jerry Downs, hit Stephen Cardullo with a pitch then gave up an RBI single to James McOwen to score Downs with High Point’s first run. Figueroa then allowed an infield single to Stuart Levy that scored Cardullo then walked Jay Gonzalez to load the bases with two outs.  Jared Mitchell drew a walk to force home McOwen to put the Rockers in front 3-1.

High Point added three more runs in the fifth off reliever Max Povse.  Michael Martinez led off the inning with a double, went to third on a deep fly to right by Jerry Downs and scored on Cardullo’s line drive single to left.  James McOwen followed with a homer to right, his fifth of the year, to give the Rockers a 6-1 lead.

The Power showed some in scoring twice in the sixth.  Alberto Callaspo doubled and scored on a two-run homer by Miles Williams as West Virginia pulled within 6-3.

In the bottom of the sixth, Jared Mitchell drew a walk from reliever Max Tannenbaum and stole second before Johnny Field doubled into the left field bullpen to put High Point ahead 7-3.  Downs followed that with a single through the right side to plate Field and increase the lead to 8-3.

Lawrence was never threatened throughout the night, allowing five hits while striking out four and walking one.  He threw 117 pitches, the most-ever by a Rocker pitcher. 

“At the beginning of the game, I couldn’t find my slider so I just focused on trying to get on top of it,” said Lawrence.

Lawrence, a former ECAC Pitcher of the Year and the top player in the Cape Cod League from New England, is still adjusting to being an everyday player.

“I used to weigh 240 pounds and now I’m at 195,” said Lawrence.  “My velocity is definitely gone.  I was throwing 90 to 92, now I’m not sure I can hit 88.  But this is the best I’ve felt pitching-wise and body wise this year.”

With the win, Lawrence is tied for second in the Atlantic League in wins and his 4.45 ERA is second on the club to fellow starter Cooper Casad.

The win was High Point’s third straight and leaves the Rockers at 36-34 overall and 5-5 in the second half.

High Point and West Virginia will conclude their three-game series on Sunday at 5:05 p.m. at Truist Point.