GASTONIA, N.C. – The High Point Rockers tied a franchise record with an eight-run eighth inning and went on to defeat Gastonia 15-10 in a wild and crazy contest Wednesday night at CaroMont Health Park.
The Rockers built a 4-0 lead in the third inning but the Honey Hunters rallied to lead 7-5 heading to the eighth. In the top of the eighth, High Point sent 11 men to the plate, scored eight times, and went on to post their 10th win in the last 12 games.
The game was one of the more abstract games of the season for High Point. Rain delayed the start of the game for 30 minutes and resulted in a four hour game. A series of High Point ejections had the Rockers finish the game with pitcher John Hayes playing left field and pitcher Ryan Chaffee earning an RBI as a pinch-hitter.
Mike Gulino, Stephen Cardullo and J.R. DiSarcina each finished with a pair of hits for High Point. Gulino drove in a career-high four runs and DiSarcina drove in three runs. Nate Blakeney and Adam Taylor each had a pair of RBI.
High Point scored three times in the top of the second to take a 3-0 lead. Stuart Levy and Gulino walked and then DiSarcina hit his fourth homer of the year to give High Point a 3-0 lead.
High Point added a run in the third to go ahead 4-0. Jay Gonzalez and Randy Norris walked to start the inning. Gastonia replaced starter William Kirwan with Jailen Peguero. After getting Giovanny Alfonzo to fly out, Peguero walked Stuart Levy to load the bases. Gulino then singled to score Gonzalez.
Gastonia scored its first two runs in the bottom of the third as Reece Hampton singled and scored on a double by Michael Osinski. Osinski then scored on an error by Levy to cut the Rockers’ lead to 4-2.
Each team tallied a single run in the fifth. Giovanny Alfonzo was hit by a pitch and Levy grounded out but first baseman Jason Rogers committed a throwing error that allowed Alfonzo to come around and score. Gastonia’s run was scored by Boog Powell who reached on an error by DiSarcina. Hampton then singled before Osinski hit a sac fly to score Powell.
Trailing 5-3, Gastonia scored three times in the sixth to take a 6-5 lead. Will Johnson singled and Ryan Cordell doubled to put runners on second and third. Jake Skole hit a sacrifice fly to score Johnson and Powell then cleared the bases with a triple.
Starter Craig Stem pitched into the sixth inning and struck out eight while allowing seven hits and six runs. Newcomer Huascar Brazoban came on in relief in the seventh and yielded a home run to Osinski as Gastonia extended its lead to 7-5.
In the top of the eighth, the Rockers scored eight runs, tying the franchise record for the most runs in any inning. DiSarcina led off with a double before Jared Mitchell drew a walk. Cardullo singled to center to score DiSarcina and cut the lead to 7-6. After a walk to Gonzalez loaded the bases, pinch-hitter Adam Taylor singled up the middle to score Mitchell while Cardullo scored on a throwing error by the Honey Hunters. Blakeney then drove in two runs with a double to right-center.
Leading 13-7, the Rockers turned it over to another newcomer, Ryan Dull, the East Forsyth High graduate who signed with the Rockers this week. Dull pitched a scoreless eighth, allowing a hit and striking out two in his Rockers’ debut.
High Point added a pair of runs in the ninth on a walk to Mitchell, a double by Cardullo and RBI ground outs by Gonzalez and pinch-hitter Ryan Chaffee for a 15-7 advantage.
Manager Jamie Keefe and shortstop Giovanny Alfonzo were ejected after arguing a Gastonia steal of second base. Outfielder Jay Gonzalez was ejected late in the game.
Acting manager Billy Horn called on Chase Ingram to close the game in the ninth but he allowed four hits and three runs in two-thirds of an inning prompting Horn to turn to Kyle Halbohn. Halbohn got the final out and recorded his eighth save of the season. Brazoban (1-0) earned the win.
High Point and Gastonia will play the final game of the three-game series on Thursday at 6:50 p.m. at CaroMont Health Park.