Jun. 19—HIGH POINT — The unpleasant song remained the same for the Rockers relief pitching on Friday night.
A night after Lexington torched the High Point bullpen for a big inning in a come-from-behind win, Southern Maryland scored five runs in the ninth and won 10-7 before an
announced crowd of 2,510 at Truist Point stadium.
The loss was the Rockers' fourth in a row and seventh in their last 10 games.
"Like I said yesterday, you climb that hill, you've got to get to the other side, and we're not on the other side," said Rockers manager Jamie Keffe. "Sometimes it takes time. Every team has been through this. Two years ago we went through this in August and September and this year, it's right out of the gate in June. What you do with it is what is going to happen in the first half."
High Point, which drops to 9-10, was four games behind leader Lexington in the Atlantic League's South Division standings entering the night.
"I told the guys, we still have a chance to win the first half," Keefe said. "We've just have to get over that hill. You get on the other side, you can run off five or six in a row. "
Southern Maryland did most of its ninth-inning damage against Brian Clark, who gave up six runs on six hits before he was hit on the side of the knee by a line drive and had to leave the game.
With the Rockers up 7-4, Clark gave up a double and a single and a sacrifice fly that scored a run. Then came a single, which was followed by a single that scored another run. That was followed by a big blow, a three-run, go-ahead home run by David Harris, a .246 hitter with three homers coming into the game.
"He's got Harris 0-2 and tries to bounce a slider," Keefe said. "Instead of bouncing a slider, he throws it where Harris has that beautiful upward swing. He threw it at the bottom of the strike zone. I've watched (Harris) my last two years in the Can-Am League. You got to keep the ball up. You're getting him out up here but not down there. But, you can look at that pitch or 25 other pitches, it doesn't matter, we're going through it right now."
Clark was struck by a rocket hit by the next batter, Josh McAdams. Clark walked off the field into the dugout. Keefe said Clark suffered a bruise.
Dylan Smith, just out of Belmont Abbey and signed earlier in the day after a tryout, replaced Clark. He gave up a double and then got out of the inning thanks to a double play that started with a liner to Giovanny Alfonzo.
Keefe said his bullpen is showing strains now because his starters couldn't go more than four innings in the opening games of the season. The Rockers' pitching staff became shorthanded earlier in the day when starter Mitch Adams had his contract purchased by a Mexican League team.
Rockers starter Bruce Hensley gave up three runs, all in the third, in 6 1/3 innings.
The ending overshadowed the Rockers' offensive production throughout the lineup that produced 13 hits.
Jared Mtichell hit a solo homer in the second to put the Rockers on the board first, and he and Logan Moore hit solo shots in the fourth to make it 3-3.
High Point added another on Jerry Downs' RBI single in the fifth, and two more in the seventh thanks to a sacrifice fly from pitch hitter Cesar Trejo and a wild pitch with Downs on third.
The Rockers made it 7-4 in the eighth when Michael Russell scored on Sephen Cardullo's double. James McOwen also tried to score but was thrown out at the plate.
"We're starting to swing the bats," Keefe said. "I'm going to press the issue and try to make the other guys make mistakes. They made a great play and got (McOwen). It doesn't matter because of the scoreboard, but you don't know, we score that run, we might get another hit and blow it open.
"It doesn't matter. Everything that happens right now, you look at 15 times. But you can't. We've got to come back tomorrow and do the same thing we did today, come out and play free and easy. We can't hang our heads and feel bad for ourselves because you're going to get over it that way. The game is meant to be fun and when it's not, it (stinks) And that is where we are right now."
The teams close out a three-game series Sunday at 5:05 p.m.