LANCASTER, Pa. – The High Point Rockers rallied back from a 3-0 deficit with a three-run homer from Logan Moore in the ninth inning but Lancaster scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth to hand the Rockers a 4-3 loss Friday night at Clipper Magazine Stadium.
Lancaster starting pitcher Nile Ball had the Rockers eating out of his hand all night, allowing just three hits through eight innings while his Barnstormer teammates built a 3-0 lead. Michael Martinez collected two of High Point’s first three hits.
Blake Gailen hit a solo homer, his 18th of the year, with two outs in the fourth to give Lancaster a 1-0 lead.
High Point starter Jheyson Manzueta was outstanding, striking out nine batters in his five innings of work while yielding just three hits and the home run to Gailen. Huascar Brazoban relieved Manzueta with the bases loaded and no outs in the sixth before Lancaster plated a pair of runs for a 3-0 lead. Brazoban was able to get Gailen to ground into a double play but Caleb Gindl scored to put the Barnstormers up 2-0. Trayvon Robinson followed with a single to score Kelly Dugan as Lancaster went ahead 3-0.
The Rockers appeared ready to slip away slowly into the night. They had accumulated just three hits off Ball who had kept High Point at bay all night. But with one out, Ball struck out pinch-hitter Nate Blakeney before Jared Mitchell singled to center. Another pinch-hitter, Randy Norris, drew a walk to put two men on. After J.R DiSarcina was called out on strikes for the second out, Moore hit a three-run home run to straightaway center to tie the game at 3-3.
With renewed life, the Rockers sent John Hayes to the mound in the bottom of the ninth. Nick Shumpert led off with a single before Melvin Mercedes laid down a bunt. First baseman Quincy Nieporte fielded the ball cleanly and flipped to Hayes but not in time to retire Mercedes. With two on, Blake Allemand grounded into a fielder’s choice to leave runners on the corners. Gindl was intentionally walked to set up a force play at any base. But Hayes (2-4) threw a wild pitch on a 2-0 count allowing Shumpert to score the winning run. Scott Shuman (4-3) earned the win in relief of Ball with one-third of an inning of work.
Ultimately, the results of this game will have no bearing on High Point’s postseason chances. The Rockers have secured the wild card bid but need Long Island to win the North Division second half title. Southern Maryland defeated Lexington 6-2 on Friday night and York was leading Long Island 5-4 in the eighth.
High Point and Lancaster will meet again on Saturday night at 6:30 at Clipper Magazine Stadium.