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Rockers Walk-Off Legends, 5-4

By Steve Shutt, 08/18/21, 3:45PM EDT


Rockers extend winning streak to six straight

HIGH POINT, N.C. – Johnny Field singled with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to drive in Giovanny Alfonzo to give the High Point Rockers a 5-4 win over the Lexington Legends Wednesday afternoon at Truist Point.

Fields’ single was one of a number of firsts for the Rockers on Wednesday.  The game-winning hit was made possible by Mike Gulino’s first sacrifice bunt of the year and led to the Rockers’ first walk-off win of the year.  The win gives High Point its first six-game winning streak of the season.

The Rockers were cruising along with a 4-1 lead behind the superb pitching of starter Cooper Casad.  Casad departed after the seventh with High Point up 4-1, having allowed just three hits and a walk while striking out five.  Ryan Chaffee was roughed up by the Legends, allowing thee hits and a walk including a two-run homer by Lexington’s Keon Barnum.  Joey Hennessey relieved Chaffee with two outs and got the Rockers to the dugout tied at 4-4.  After a scoreless eighth, Hennessey retired all three Legends he faced in the ninth.

Alfonzo led off the bottom of the ninth by getting hit by a pitch by Lexington reliever Bryan Quillens before Gulino sacrificed him to second.  Jared Mitchell pulled a ball hard down the first base line that Barnum fielded and stepped on first for the second out with Alfonzo moving to third.

Field swung hard at the first two pitches he faced before sending a line drive to left to score Alfonzo and start a wild on-field team celebration.

“Johnny had a great at-bat,” said Rockers manager Jamie Keefe.  “He got one pitch to hit and he did what he needed to do.  He did his job.”

Keefe was also upbeat on Hennessey’s performance.  The rookie not only pitched the Rockers out of a jam in the eighth but he set the Legends down in order in the ninth.

“Joey Hennessey grew up right in front of our eyes,” said Keefe.  “I’m proud of him.  He’s been in a crowd in the bullpen but he really pitched well today, especially setting down the top three hitters in their line-up in the ninth.”

Keefe also was empathetic towards Chaffee.  “Ryan just got behind a couple hitters but he’ll be fine.  He will get the day off tomorrow and he’ll be back at it on Friday.”

High Point took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second when, with two outs, Jay Gonzalez singled and came around to score from first on a bloop double to right by Alfonzo.

Lexington evened the game in the fourth as Courtney Hawkins singled and moved to second on a walk to Brandon Phillips.  Barnum grounded into a double play as Hawkins moved to third.  Michael Choice then delivered a single to score Barnum and tie the game at 1-1.

High Point scored three times in the sixth to go ahead 4-1.  Michael Martinez hit his first home run as a Rocker, a solo shot to right, for a 2-1 lead.  Stephen Cardullo walked and scored on a double by Stuart Levy for a 3-1 advantage.  Alfonzo then doubled home Levy to put the Rockers up 4-1.

Alfonzo finished the game with two hits, both doubles and two RBI.  Hennessey (1-0) retired all four men he faced.  Quillens (0-3) took the loss for Lexington.

High Point and Lexington will conclude their three-game series on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. at Truist Point.