From the Big South Conference:
ROCK HILL, SC – Mike Mercurio's seventh inning sacrifice fly broke an 8-8 tie and capped a four-run inning to rally No. 4 High Point past No. 3 Radford, 10-8, in Game 5 of the 2010 Royal Purple Big South Baseball Championship, May 26 at The Winthrop Ballpark on the campus of Winthrop University.
With the victory, High Point improves to 30-27 and advances to play No. 2 seed Liberty Thursday night at 7 p.m. Radford falls to 29-25 and moves to the loser's bracket, where the Highlanders will face No. 1 seed Coastal Carolina Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m.
The game featured several ties and lead changes in the late innings. Big South Player of the Year Nate Roberts belted a two-run home run to put the Panthers up 2-0 in the top of the first inning. He brought home Pablo Rosario, who opened the game with a single to left.
High Point tacked on another run in the second inning when Murray White IV singled to center, moved to second on Drew Geissinger's sacrifice and scored on a fielding error by Radford second baseman Phil Bondi.
The Highlanders cut the deficit to 3-1 in the bottom of the third inning when Brett Mollenhauer drew a two-out walk and eventually scored on Raphael Turner's single to centerfield. High Point extended its lead to 5-1 in the top of the fourth on Matt Gantner's RBI fielder's choice and Steve Antolik's sacrifice fly.
Radford would continue its comeback and tie the game at 5-5 in the fifth inning.
In the fourth, Andrew Cook blasted a solo home run to left center to make it 5-2. Radford then plated three runs in the fifth to knot the game.
Tyren Rivers singled, stole second and later came home on Reggie Keen's single to right to make it 5-3. Then with two outs, Matt Hillsinger doubled to right and scored Keen and Alex Guerra to make it 5-5. Guerra had reached base with a walk and also stole a base in the inning.
But as quickly as Radford tied it, High Point took the lead right back in the next inning. Rosario reached on a bunt single and was sacrificed to second by Mercurio. Radford starter Aerik Taylor was replaced by Paul DeVito, who threw a wild pitch to move Rosario to third. A passed ball by RU catcher Robert Lamas allowed Rosario to score.
High Point's lead was short-lived, as Radford took its first lead of the night in the sixth inning when Turner blasted a two-run home run to put the Highlanders ahead, 8-6. Mollenhauer tied the game at 6-6 earlier in the inning when he singled home Bondi, who walked to open the inning.
Just as the previous three innings, High Point then stormed back with four runs in the seventh inning to re-take the lead for good at 10-8. The rally was highlighted by Sal Pezzino's two-RBI pinch-hit single to tie the game at 8-8. Mercurio followed with his sacrifice fly, and Roberts singled home the Panthers' 10th run of the game.
High Point's final two pitchers, Corey Swickle and Al Yevoli, shut down the Highlanders the final 3.1 innings, as the duo combined to allow one hit, no runs and four strikeouts. Swickle was credited with the win to move to 5-2, with Yevoli earning his first save of the year. Brad Wimmer (3-2) suffered the loss for Radford, as he was charged with four earned runs in just 0.1 innings on the hill. HPU starter Jamie Serber went five innings and tied his career-high with seven strikeouts in the no decision. Taylor lasted 5.1 innings for Radford and allowed six runs, although three were unearned.
At the plate, Rosario reached base in all six appearances, officially going 4-5 with three runs scored. Gantner and White IV also had two hits. Roberts finished 2-4 with three RBI, including his League-leading 19th home run of the season. He scored his 85th run of the season on his first inning home run to break the Big South single-season record of 84. High Point was hit by three pitches, increasing its season total to 119 and tying the Big South single-season record first set by VMI in 2006.
Rivers, Mollenhauer, Keen, Turner and Hillsinger all had two hits apiece for the Highlanders. Turner had three RBI and Hillsinger knocked in two runs.