Duke holds off weary HPU, 4-2
Playing for the fifth straight day caught up with the High Point University baseball team on Wednesday.
Having trouble getting their bats on Duke pitching, the Panthers (22-22) fell 4-2 at Williard Stadium and lost to the Blue Devils for the second straight day. The struggles including getting just seven hits off five Blue Devil pitchers and producing just one run after loading the bases with no one out in the sixth. In contrast, Duke (24-20) came up with 10 hits, the biggest one a bases-clearing double with one out in the third to go up, 3-1.
“To be honest and not to make excuses, yes, it had an effect,” HPU coach Craig Cozart said of the five games in five days. “Not to take away anything from Duke, you’ve got to credit their pitching staff coming at us aggressively. But our bats are slow right now and in addition to the fatigue of playing five straight days, we’ve got some mental fatigue going on with some of our guys already in final exams.
“But when it comes down to it, their execution was better than ours. They took advantage of their bases-loaded situation with a bases-clearing double and we only got one run out of ours. Their pitchers came in throwing strikes and we couldn’t get anything consistent going offensively.”
The string of five straight games was set up by a three-game series against UNC Asheville running from Saturday to Monday instead of Friday to Sunday because of a weather postponement. HPU then played the home-and-home set against Duke.
No one from HPU got more than one hit and the Panthers were surprisingly ineffective against Duke starter, Dalton Brown, who came into the game with an ERA of 6.63 and had given up 16 runs in 19 innings.
HPU pushed across a run in the first when Willie Medina walked, advanced to third on two groundouts and scored on an error. But, Brown left after giving up just one hit in five innings.
“He saw what their guys did last night pitching aggressively with fastballs and we aren’t catching up to them right now,” Cozart said.
Ryan Retz took the loss, giving up all of Duke’s runs and hits. Jordan Betts delivered the double after the bases were loaded in the third thanks to two singles and a walk.
“He was scrappy,” Cozart said of Retz. “He didn’t have his best stuff and that three-run inning beat us. I wasn’t disappointed at all because we didn’t give him any run support, either.”
HPU loaded the bases in the sixth on singles by Spencer Angelis, Retz and Adam Barry. Cody Manzella delivered a sacrifice fly that scored Angelis but the rally died with a pop fly and a groundout.
“When you get in that situation someone has got to come up and hit the ball in the gap and all we got out of it was a sacrifice fly,” Cozart said.
Thanks to a break for exams, the Panthers should be well-rested for their next game, which comes a week from Friday against visiting Campbell in the start of a three-game series.