Rockers Split DH, Keefe Wins 900th Game
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The High Point Rockers maintained their lead in the Atlantic League's South Division and manager Jamie Keefe won his 900th game during a doubleheader split with West Virginia Tuesday night at Appalachian Power Park.
The Rockers dropped the first game 7-6 but rebounded to win the nightcap 7-3.
High Point is now 23-14 in the second half and in first place in the South Division while West Virginia is 22-15, a game behind the Rockers.
Rockers third baseman Michael Russell put on an offensive display. Between the two games, Russell went six-for-eight at the plate with four runs scored, two doubles, a triple, two home runs and nine RBI.
Keefe began his coaching career with the Chillicothe Paints of the Frontier League in 2001 following a nine-year playing career. Among his 900 career wins are 128 victories with the Rockers since becoming High Point's first manager in 2019.
"It's all about the players and they come out every game and ball out," said Keefe. "Every single guy who's played for me, I can't thank them enough. The City of High Point and our front office staff, Coy Williard and the Board of Directors, I can't thank them enough for giving me the opportunity to represent High Point each and every night."
Michael Russell staked the Rockers to a 1-0 lead with a solo homer in the first, his sixth of the year.
High Point added to its lead in the third. Johnny Field led off with a walk and Russell doubled to left, moving Field to third. Jerry Downs was hit by a pitch and West Virginia brought in Max Tannenbaum to pitch in relief of starter Junior Figueroa. Stephen Cardullo then bounced back to Tannenbaum who threw wide of home plate, allowing Field to score, putting High Point up 2-0.
James McOwen pinch-hit for starting pitcher Neil Uskali and grounded out to third as Russell scored give the Rockers a 3-0 advantage. Giovanny Alfonzo then grounded out to third base as Downs scored and High Point led 4-0 after the top of the third.
The Rockers added three more runs in the fourth inning to take a 7-0 lead. Mike Gulino led off with a double before Jay Gonzalez beat out a drag bunt to put runners on the corners. Russell then slammed his seventh homer of the year, a three-run shot, to drive in Gulino and Gonzalez.
With reliever Ryan Chaffee on the mound, West Virginia rallied for three runs in the bottom of the fourth as Connor Kopach homered with two men on and two outs.
High Point's bullpen as John Hayes, Ryan Dull and Huascar Brazoban held West Virginia to just two hits over the final 3.1 innings while striking out four.
Neil Uskali (2-1) was credited with the win. Expected starter Mitch Atkins was scratched prior to the first pitch leading Uskali to take over on the mound. Uskali kept the Power scoreless over his two innings of work while allowing four hits and striking out two.
High Point opened the scoring with a run in the first when Johnny Field led off with a single and scored on a double by Michael Russell. The Power would answer with two runs in the bottom of the first putting together a triple by Alberto Callaspo, an RBI single by Jimmy Paredes and an RBI double by Olmo Rosario for a 2-1 West Virginia lead.
High Point answered with four runs in the top of the second to go ahead 5-2. The Rockers loaded the bases on walks to Giovanny Alfonzo and Jared Mitchell and a single by Field. Russell then cleared the bases with a triple and would score on a sacrifice fly by Michael Martinez.
West Virginia scored five runs off High Point starter Bryce Hensley in the bottom of the fourth, cobbling together a single, four doubles and a sacrifice fly to take a 7-5 lead.
The Rockers cut the West Virginia lead to a single run with one run in the sixth. Mitchell walked and Field doubled to put runners on second and third. Russell singled, driving in his fifth run of the game, to score Mitchell but Field was cut down at the plate to keep the score at 7-6.
The Rockers mounted a final rally in the seventh, putting runners on first and second with one out. James McOwen lined a shot up the middle that was caught by Power shortstop Connor Kopach for the second out and he then flipped to second to beat the diving Downs for a game-ending double play.
Field and Russell each had three hits for the Rockers. Russell finished with five RBI with a double and a triple. Bryce Hensley (6-9) took the loss while Joe Testa (3-3) collected the win.
High Point will remain in West Virginia and play the Power again on Wednesday and Thursday at Appalachian Power Park. Wednesday's game is set to start at 7:05 p.m.
Images from this story
High Point Rockers manager Jamie Keefe (left) and assistant coach Billy Horn
• Discuss this story on the Atlantic League message board...
Atlantic League Stories from September 14, 2021
- Rockers Split DH, Keefe Wins 900th Game - High Point Rockers
- Crabs Overcome Early Ducks Lead and Secure 50th Win - Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
- Barnstormers Tripped up in York - Lancaster Barnstormers
The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.