HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point Rockers dropped a 5-3 decision to West Virginia on Friday night in front of crowd of 2,078 at Truist Point. The loss drops the Rockers 1.5 games behind West Virginia in the second half pennant race of the Atlantic League’s South Division. But the Rockers maintained a five-game lead in the race for the wild card playoff spot over Southern Maryland.
West Virginia broke a 1-1 tie with three runs in the seventh to earn the win. Edwin Espinal led off the inning with a single and moved to third on a double by Dario Pizzano. Espinal scored on a double by Yovan Gonzalez and Pizzano and Gonzalez scored on a double by Scott Kelly.
High Point scored first when Jerry Downs singled to lead off the second inning, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Stephen Cardullo and scored on a single by Michael Martinez.
West Virginia tied the game in the third when Yovan Gonzalez singled, moved to second on a single by Connor Kopach, took third on anb infield out by Scott Kelly6, and scored on a sacrifice fly from Teodoro Martinez.
The Rockers trailed 4-1 when they loaded the bases in the seventh but only came away with one run. With one out, Jared Mitchell singled and took third on a single by Mike Gulino. James McOwen collected a pinch-hit single that scored Mitchell to make it a 4-2 game.
West Virginia added a run in the top of the ninth off reliever Huascar Brazoban to make it a 5-2 Power lead. Gonzalez was hit by a pitch, moved to second on a walk to Connor Kopach, took third on a passed ball and scored on an infield ground out by Kelly.
High Point loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the ninth by Power reliever Mike Broadway came on to retire the Rockers with just one crossing the plate. Jared Mitchell walked and would come around to score on a wild pitch.
Craig Stem (4-10) took the loss but allowed just four runs over 6.1 innings. He allowed nine hits and struck out three. West Virginia starter Arik Sikula (10-7) earned the win by allowing just three hits over his six innings of work.
The Rockers were held to just six hits with Gulino collecting two of them.
High Point and West Virginia continue their three-game series on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. at Truist Point.