Panthers slip past Keydets, 2-1
Locked into a game dominated by pitching, High Point University finally scratched out a run as the possibility of extra innings started to loom large.
Tony Fortier-Bensen’s bases-loaded grounder to short forced Spencer Angelis home with what proved to be the winning run in the bottom of the eighth as the Panthers posted a 2-1 Big South Conference victory over VMI on Friday night at Williard Stadium.
The Panthers improved to 20-14, 8-5 Big South while VMI drops to 18-14, 6-7.
The winning run came after both starting pitchers — John McGillicuddy of HPU and Garrett Reed of the Keydets — were lifted in the eighth after a sensational dual.
Reed, who threw a no-hitter earlier in the year, took the loss after walking Angelis to start the deciding rally. Before that, he held the Panthers to two hits, gave up a run on a walk, error and single in the first and kept the Panthers from scoring after getting runners to third in the fourth and fifth
“We knew we were going to take advantage of ever possible offensive situation and he didn’t present too many,” Cozart said. “Fortunately, Tony hit the ball in a good spot in that bases-loaded situation.”
McGillicuddy was also impressive, allowing only one Keydet runner past second through the first six innings before Eric Mayers scored in the seventh on a passed ball after walking and going to third on a steal attempt when Josh Spano’s throw to second sailed into center field.
McGillicuddy, who struck out eight,, was lifted after allowing a two-out hit in the top of the eighth.
Conor Lourey gave a walk to make it first and second with two outs. Brandon Angus lashed a single to right but Dane McDermott gunned down Jordan Tarsovich at the plate to prevent VMI from taking the lead.
“That might have been the play of the game when McDermott threw the guy out at home,” Cozart said. “It’s a different game if we’re down, 2-1. We might have had to push things on offense and used our bullpen in a different way.”
McDermott’s plays also helped make Lourey the winning pitcher. HPU closer John Maloney struck out two and allowed a hit in getting the save by pitching a scoreless ninth.
The teams play again Saturday at 6 p.m. and on Sunday at 1 p.m.