The Lancaster Barnstormers finally broke the ice in North Carolina.
After being swept just two weeks earlier in their first ever series at BB&T Point, the Barnstormers picked up a 7-6, 10-inning victory over the host High Point Rockers on Monday evening.
Lancaster was forced to play from behind in the ninth inning but pulled even quickly against closer Trevor Frank. Down, 6-5, the Barnstormers got a leadoff infield single by Parker Morin. Pinch runner Devon Torrence was able to advance to second on a bad pickoff throw. Josh Bell smoked a long ground rule double to right center to tie the game, but the Barnstormers were unable to get pinch runner Zach Shank across with the lead.
After Pedro Echemendia (1-0) pitched a scoreless ninth, the Barnstormers had Michael Martinez placed at second to open the extra inning. Dan Gamache grounded out to the right side to move Martinez to third. Caleb Gindl picked up the run with a lined single into right.
Given the same opportunity in the bottom of the tenth, the Rockers rolled three straight ground balls off Cody Eppley, who earned his 11th save of the season and 99th in the Atlantic League.
High Point jumped out to a 3-0 start off Buddy Baumann, who hit a batter then loaded the bases on walks to begin the game. One run scored on a Richie Shaffer sacrifice fly to right, and Hector Gomez brought a second home with a single to left. Three consecutive two-out singles in the second produced another run for the Rockers.
Lancaster fought back on long balls. Martinez belted a two-run shot into the first row of right field seats in the top of the third off Joe Van Meter to cut the lead to 3-2. K.C. Hobson hit a much longer homer in the next inning, a three-run blast off the right field scoreboard for a 5-3 lead.
However, the Rockers picked up three runs in the bottom of the fifth to take the lead. Myles Schroder slugged a homer to left center to start the inning. Quincy Latimore singled and scored on Shaffer’s double into the right field corner. A passed ball allowed Shaffer to take third, and he scored on Gomez’ grounder to first.
The Barnstormers visit the Rockers in the second game of the series on Tuesday evening at 6:30. Lancaster will send left-hander John Anderson (5-4) to the hill against right-hander Tyler Herron (2-4). Fans may tune into the Barnstormers YouTube Channel, beginning at 6:15.
NOTES: Hobson’s homer was his first hit in 25 at bats against High Point…Logan Sawyer extended his streak of scoreless innings to 10 1/3…Bell’s double was his first extra base hit since June 9…Darian Sandford stole two bases, giving him 29 for the season and 156 as a Barnstormer…He is three away from Sean Smith for ninth on the all-time Atlantic League list…Andrew Aplin was 0-for-3 with a walk in his Atlantic League debut.