HPU baseball boots home opener
As a stiff breeze added to the chill Wednesday afternoon, High Point University turned in a stiff performance in its baseball home opener.
Ineffective relief pitching and fielding contributed to the frigid outing as the Panthers fell to Charlotte 12-3 at Coy Williard Stadium.
The relief pitching couldn’t hold a 3-1 lead. But, the Panthers (2-2) were still in it, trailing 5-3, until three errors and five hits with two outs helped the 49ers (2-1) bat around and post seven runs in the eighth. The 12 runs is the best output for Charlotte in a single game since 2005.
“All you have to look at is the linescore,” HPU coach Craig Cozart said. “They scored all but one of their runs from the fifth inning on. When you have an ineffective bullpen and commit four errors in the last three innings, you usually have the results we had today.
“Obviously, opening day at home, it was very disappointing to play way below our capabilities.”
The relief pitching ran into trouble soon after Mike Krumm replaced starter Zach Haile with two outs in the fifth and two on. Krumm, who took the loss in his first appearance of the year, gave up a two-run single to Scott Basen that tied the score. In the sixth, he gave up a leadoff double in the sixth to Justin Seger, who scored the go-ahead run on a double-play ball.
More of the same followed as Michael Heller, Kyle Wigmore and Will Resnik combined with Krumm to give up nine runs on 10 hits before Cody Ferguson pitched a scoreless ninth.
“There was no excuse for what they did,” Cozart said. “They should have been very comfortable playing at home.
“We’ve got 52 games left so those guys must a short memory and must know they have to contribute in a big way.”
They weren’t helped when Willie Medina and Ryan Retz made errors on plays that would have gotten the Panthers out of the eighth. Charlotte scored two after Medina’s miscue, four after the Retz boot and another when a throw from home to second wasn’t handled.
Basen did the most damage at the plate, going 4-for-5 with three RBIs and a run scored. Seager was 3 for 5 with two RBIs and Grant Dunnegan also drove in two runs.
“I had anticipation for the guys I brought out there but we didn’t execute in two strike counts and put too many runners on free,” Cozart said.
Cozart looked back on his decision not to let Haile work out of trouble in the fifth. Haile gave up a run in the first and then settled down and allowed just one baserunner from the second through fourth before putting two on in the fifth. Haile, who was the winning pitcher on Saturday, was nearing the limit on the number of pitches he was allowed to throw when he was taken out.
“If I had known what we were going to get out of the bullpen, I would probably have left him out there a little longer,” Cozart said. “He had pitched on Saturday so there was some concern with pitch count at this point of the season but I would have given him the opportunity to pitch through the fifth if I had the foresight to know what was coming.”
The Panthers scored all of their runs in the third after taking advantage of a Charlotte throwing error that allowed Spencer Angelis to get on base with two outs. Angelis scored on Adam Barry’s single. Barry scored on double into the left-field corner by Josh Spano. Ryan Retz followed with a double that scored Spano.
Retz and Spano went 2-for-4. Barry and Kyle Brandenburg were 1-for-3.