HIGH POINT, N.C. – Johnny Fields gained his third walk-off play of the year in leading the High Point Rockers to a 7-6 win in 10 innings over West Virginia in front of 2,176 Friday night at Truist Point.
Fields, who earlier in the season had walked-off games with a single and a homer, this time reached on an error that scored Giovanny Alfonzo from second to deliver the win to High Point.
The two teams entered the game tied for first with identical 20-12 second half records in the Atlantic League’s South Division. The Rockers now have a one-game lead over the Power.
In addition, the win was the 898th all-time victory for Rockers manager Jamie Keefe.
Alfonzo started the 10th inning at second base. West Virginia reliever Dakota Freese (0-2) struck out Stuart Levy and induced Jared Mitchell to fly out to left field. With two outs, Fields hit a line drive that shortstop Connor Kopach fielded on one hop. West Virginia first baseman Jimmy Paredes couldn’t handle the throw at first and Alfonzo jogged home from third with the winning run.
“The crowd was electric tonight,” said Keefe. “To have a crowd out here like that, it really pumps you up. Especially in the ninth inning. I know we gave up a home run but the crowd here tonight was awesome.
“This team just grinds every night,” said Keefe. “We made some mistakes tonight but we just kept grinding. You better get 27 outs before we do or else we’re going to be right there at the end of the game.”
The Rockers held a 6-5 lead in the top of the ninth and closer Kyle Halbohn was on the mound, one out away from the save. But Paredes slammed a solo homer to right-center that tied the game and forced extra innings.
John Hayes (1-1) retired the Power in order in the 10th before the Rockers pulled their heroic finish in the bottom of the inning.
“John (Hayes) wasn’t supposed to pitch tonight but he went out there and set them down one-two-three, it was just awesome,” said Keefe.
The Power drew first blood, scoring a single run in the fourth. Paredes walked and Casad gave up singles to Olmo Rosario and Miles Williams to load the bases. Yovan Gonzalez grounded to third and Michael Russell’s throw to the plate was low, allowing Paredes to slide in with the first run of the game. Casad then struck out both Elmer Reyes and Kopach looking to escape any further trouble.
The Rockers blew up for four runs in the fourth as each of the first four batters scored. Stephen Cardullo led off with a walk and moved to second on a single by Quincy Latimore. Alfonzo singled to drive home Cardullo and Stuart Levy singled to plate Latimore. Field then hit a check-swing single to right to bring Alfonzo across the plate before Michael Russell doubled to drive home Levy.
High Point extended its lead to 6-1 with two more runs in the fifth. Cardullo blasted his 13th home run, a deep shot to left, for a 5-1 lead. Alfonzo singled, moved to second on a single by Levy and scored on a single by Mitchell to move the lead to 6-1.
The Power tallied four runs in the top of the sixth on two-run homers by Miles Williams and Kopach to cut High Point’s lead to 6-5.
With two outs in the top of the ninth, Paredes launched a solo home run to right center to tie the game at 6-6.
Cardullo singled in the bottom of the ninth and stole second and third but was stranded on base, sending the game to extra innings.
The Rockers and Power will play six more times over the next six days with three games in High Point and four in Charleston. High Point and West Virginia will meet again on Saturday at Truist Point with a 7:05 p.m. first pitch.