HIGH POINT –A late RBI sacrifice fly gave the High Point Panthers the insurance it needed to down the North Carolina A&T Aggies, 3-2, in non-conference baseball action played at Williard Stadium Wednesday evening.
The Aggies (9-7) received more strong pitching despite the loss. Sophomore left-hander Ethan Chavis, who has become a dependable midweek starter this season, pitched six strong innings where he gave up two runs, one earned, with one walk and one strikeout.
Despite taking the loss to fall to 0-2, Chavis has a 2.13 ERA. The Aggies bullpen pitched another solid two innings surrendering one run on one hit. The Aggies bullpen has a 3.72 ERA in 46 innings pitched this season.
High Point (6-8) did break through on Aggies senior reliever Walfrank Pineiro (RHP). HPU’s Trent Harris walked to open the seventh. Evan Bergman then hit a one-out single to left field to put runners on first and second. The Aggies turned to junior RHP Justin Fox to slow the Panthers momentum.
Ryan Russell was walked on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases for Joe Johnson. N.C. A&T countered by putting freshman LHP Peyton Winebarger on the mound. Johnson lifted a 1-1 pitch by Winebarger into left field to score Harris on an RBI sac fly to give the Panthers a 3-1 lead. Senior righty Roberto Negron came in to close out the inning by forcing a groundout.
The Aggies did mount a ninth-inning rally. Chris Apecechea replaced HPU starter Muhammed Eid to open the ninth. Freshman pinch-hitter Donte Wade welcomed him to the game by hitting a home run to right field. It was Wade’s first career homer, it cut HPU’s lead to 3-2 and it put the tying run at the plate with no outs.
But the Aggies flew out in back-to-back at-bats before the Panthers replaced Apecechea with Jack Nathan. Nathan struck out junior Cam Williamson to end the game. Eid (2-2) picked up the win for High Point. Nathan got the save, his first of the season. Bergman had two hits in the HPU win.
Junior Zach McLean accounted for the Aggies first run of the game as he homered to left in the sixth inning. The Aggies will host Marist in a three-game series at War Memorial Stadium starting on Friday at 4 p.m. Game 2 is Saturday at 3 p.m., and the series finale on Sunday will start at 1 p.m.