HIGH POINT, N.C. – Pitchers around the Atlantic League are going to learn soon that the last batter you want to face when playing the High Point Rockers is center fielder Johnny Field.
Unfortunately for a number of pitchers, Johnny Field is the last batter they faced.
For the fourth time this season, Field garnered the walk-off win for the Rockers, this time blasting a one-out solo homer to lead High Point to a 3-2 win over the West Virginia Power in front of a crowd of 2,636 at Truist Point on Saturday night.
High Point and West Virginia were tied 2-2 after three innings and the game remained scoreless until Field hit a 2-1 pitch from Power reliever Eleardo Cabrera with one out in the bottom of the ninth.
The blast made a winner of former High Point University pitcher Joe Johnson (3-0) who pitched a scoreless ninth inning for the Rockers. Cabrera (1-3) entered the game in the eighth and allowed one hit while striking out two to escape the eighth.
Jared Mitchell flew out deep to left for the first out of the ninth before Field set the huge Truist Point crowd home happy.
“Johnny got all of that one,” said High Point manager Jamie Keefe. “These guys just keep grinding and they’re taking advantage of their late inning opportunities.”
The win puts the Rockers two games in front of West Virginia in the second half of the Atlantic League’s South Division. High Point is now 53-41 overall and 22-12 in the second half.
The win was also the 899th in Keefe’s 18 years seasons as a professional baseball manager.
West Virginia got to High Point starter Craig Stem for a pair of runs in the top of the first. Teodoro Martinez led off the game by beating out an infield single. Alberto Callspo hit a shot to the left-center gap which centerfielder Johnny Field cut off, relayed to shortstop Giovanny Alfonzo who threw to catcher Stuart Levy to cut down the sliding Martinez. After Stem walked Jimmy Paredes, Edwin Espinal singled to score Callaspo with Espinal moving to third. Olmo Rosario lifted a sacrifice fly to left to score Espinal to give the Power a 2-0 lead.
The Rockers cut the deficit in half in the third. Quincy Latimore drew a two-out walk and moved to third on a single by Giovanny Alfonzo. West Virginia starter Alexis Candelario issued a walk to Mike Gulino to load the bases before walking Jared Mitchell to bring home Latimore>
High Point tied the game in the third when Michael Russell led off the inning with a single and moved to second on an infield ground out by Michael Martinez. Jerry Downs then hit a sinking liner to center field that Teodoro Martinez dove for but was unable to handle and it rolled to the wall, scoring Russell and leaving Downs with his first triple of the season.
Field, Russell and Downs each had a pair of hits for the Rockers.
Stem went seven innings and overcame a shaky start to shut out the Power over his final six innings.
“Craig Stem had a great start,” said Keefe. “After that first inning, he didn’t throw a bad pitch.”
The Rockers will entertain the Power again on Sunday at 5:05 p.m. at Truist Point.