Panthers battle struggles at the plate

Apr. 14, 2014 @ 11:18 PM

ith local rival UNC Greensboro coming to Williard Stadium this afternoon, High Point University’s baseball team will be seeking to get its hitting back in rhythm.
The Panthers struggled all weekend as they lost two of three games against Big South opponent VMI. They had just four hits in Friday’s 2-1 victory, five hits in Saturday’s 4-3 loss and  then got 13 hits but left 20 men on base in Sunday’s 4-2 loss in 16 innings.
They batted just .143 in the Friday game and .156 on Saturday for their first back-to-back sub-.200 games since the first week in March.
“Our offense is stagnant right now, quite frankly,” Cozart said after Sunday’s game. “It’s been a concern all season, going all the way back to our opening series with Mercer in February. When we’ve been able to put hits together consistently, we’ve won. When we haven’t, we’ve had trouble winning games.”
UNG (17-17) comes in on a bit of an upswing, having won three of its last four, with two of the three coming against Southern Conference foe Georgia Southern.
Coupled with a 12-5 loss to Elon on Wednesday, HPU has dropped 3 of its last 4 to drop to 20-16.
But, they have an opportunity to get back on track. The Spartans are expected to start Andrew George, a freshman lefty who is 1-3 with an ERA 7.50. The win came as he allowed two runs over six innings against Wake Forest in his last start.
One of George’s losses came  against HPU as he gave up four runs on five hits and walked five.
“It’s really up to our guys to get out of this,” Cozart said. “We’re facing a little bit of adversity so they can take it on or put their tails between their legs. No one is going to feel sorry for them and no one is going to give them anything.”

RIPKE GETS THE CALL
Freshman right-hander Peter Ripke is likely to get his seventh start of the season for the Panthers.
He is 1-0 with a 3.2 ERA. The win came in seven innings of work during a 16-3 route of N.C. Central in February.
His roughest outing came when he gave up two runs and three hits in just a third of an inning against N.C. A&T on March 19. But on the last two Tuesdays, he gave up a run and four hits in four innings at home against Wake Forest and allowed four runs on eight hits in 4 ⅔ innings against Appalachian.
UNCG is batting .306 as a team. Six Spartans with over 90 at-bats are hitting .300. They are led by Southern Conference batting leader Sean Guite, who is hitting .397.

QUICK PLAYS
Panthers are 4-1 against SoCon teams. They defeated UNCG 7-4 in February and also turned back Elon twice in addition to Appalachian once. . . .One pitcher who is unlikely to see action tonight is reliever Conor Lourey after he went a personal record 7 ⅔ innings Sunday against VMI and struck out nine Keydets.