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Lawrence Sets Down Honey Hunters, 6-2

By Steve Shutt, 09/01/21, 11:30PM EDT

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Rockers solidify grasp on first place with win

HIGH POINT, N.C. – Tommy Lawrence enjoyed an outstanding August, winning all five of his starts and helping the High Point Rockers to the best month of any Atlantic League team with 16 wins.

The change in the calendar to September didn’t change Lawrence’s success.  High Point’s righthander beat Gastonia 6-2 Wednesday night at Truist Point and helped the Rockers solidify their grasp on first place in the Atlantic League’s South Division.  The win puts the Rockers at 16-9 in the second half as they hold a three-game lead over second place Lexington.

Lawrence (10-2) tied the franchise record for wins in a season, sharing the mark with Joe Van Meter who went 10-6 in 24 starts in 2019.  Lawrence has started 13 games this season and has won six straight.

Wednesday’s win was classic Lawrence.  He gave up 10 hits while the Rockers had just five.  But Lawrence limited the Honey Hunters to oh-for-10 with runners in scoring position.  Gastonia stranded eight runners during Lawrence’s eight innings of work.  The University of Maine product retired eight straight Honey Hunters during one stretch from the sixth through eighth innings.  Lawrence didn’t issue a walk and struck out six Honey Hunters.

“Tommy kept them off balance all night,” said Rockers manager Jamie Keefe.  “We put the ball in play when we needed to.  Small things go a long way and they did tonight.”

High Point grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second when Gastonia starter A.J. Merkel walked the bases loaded.  With Giovanny Alfonzo on third, Michael Martinez grounded out to second with Alfonzo scoring.

Gastonia tied the game in the top of the third when center fielder Boog Powell led off with a double, moved to third when Ryan Jackson flew out to right then scored on a sacrifice fly by Mike Osinski.

High Point went up 2-1 in the fifth when Stephen Cardullo was hit by a pitch, moved to second on a ground out by James McOwen and scored on a single by Alfonzo.  Stuart Levy followed immediately with a blast to left center, his ninth home run of the year, to give High Point a 4-1 lead.

The Rockers added a run in the seventh when Jerry Downs led off the frame a double.  Cardullo’s groundout to second moved Downs to third and he then scored on a sacrifice fly by James McOwen for a 5-1 lead.

In the eighth, Gastonia’s Josh Sale blasted a solo homer, his league-leading 28th of the year, to cut High Point’s lead to 5-2. The Rockers closed the scoring with a run in the bottom of the eighth when Downs hit a sacrifice fly to right that scored Johnny Field for a 6-2 final.

Kyle Halbohn set Gastonia down in order in the ninth to earn his 10th save of the year and his ninth consecutive successful save opportunity.

High Point and Gastonia will play the final game of the three-game series on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. at Truist Point.