Around the League

High Point, Lancaster win series openers


Lancaster 9, Long Island 5

LANCASTER, Pa. - What looked like an inning ending 3-2-3 double play turned into a positive for the Lancaster Barnstormers.

Catcher’s interference was ruled to allow the go-ahead run to score, and Wilson Garcia followed with a three-run double to the gap in right center as the Lancaster Barnstormers topped the Long Island Ducks, 9-5, in the opening game of the best-of-five North Division series at Clipper Magazine Stadium.

In the South, High Point scored twice in the top of the tenth inning to take a 3-1 decision in the series opener at Gastonia.

Lancaster lead, 4-1, heading into the sixth when the Ducks scored three runs without the benefit of a base hit.  Sam Travis and Alejandro de Aza drew leadoff walks.  Carlos Castro stroked a grounder toward the middle which was fielded by Lancaster shortstop Yeison Coca.  Coca dashed for second, missed getting de Aza, then sailed his throw to first into the Lancaster dugout as two runs scored.  Hector Sanchez grounded out, sending Castro to third, and the tying run scored when Brantley Bell greeted Garrett Granitz (1-0) with a sacrifice fly.

Trace Loehr opened the home half of the inning with a single to left center off Yaya Chentouf (0-1).  Melvin Mercedes walked, and Coca advanced both runners with a bunt.  Long Island opted to walk Andretty Cordero intentionally, bringing up Sandoval.  He hit a grounder to Castro, who fired home to Sanchez for a force, and the throw went back to first for the “double play.”  As Long Island’s defense cleared the field, the Barnstormers got the umpires to confer.  After a lengthy discussion, catcher’s interference was ruled, giving Lancaster the go-ahead run.  Garcia drove home three more with a liner into the gap in right center for an 8-4 edge.

Andretty Cordero tacked on a run with a sacrifice fly.  Granitz took the game through the seventh, and Mike Adams pitched a scoreless eighth.  Alex Dickerson doubled home a run off Ofreidy Gomez with two outs in the ninth.  Gomez struck out de Aza for the final out.

Coca homered in the first inning.  Long Island tied the game in the top of the third, but the Barnstormers went ahead, 2-1, as Mercedes scored on a wild pitch.  Cordero and Garcia singled home a run each in the bottom of the fifth.

Lancaster will send Matt Swarmer (4-1) to the mound in Game Two on Wednesday evening against lefty Kyle Lobstein (5-5).  Fans may tune into FloBaseball, beginning at 6:25.

NOTES:  Lancaster is 28-16 all-time in playoff games, 3-3 against the Ducks…They are 5-3 in the first game of the division series and 9-3 in first games overall…The Barnstormers have won their last six playoff games…Garcia had four or more RBI in a game only once during the regular season…Mercedes, who led the league with a .444 OBP during the regular season, reached base four times on a double and three walks…He scored three times.



High Point 3, Gastonia 1 (10 innings)

GASTONIA, N.C. – The High Point Rockers broke a 1-1 tie in the top of the 10th inning and claimed Game One of the Atlantic League South Division Championship series with a 3-1 win at CaroMont Health Park on Tuesday night.

Shed Long, Jr. reached base on a swinging bunt with one out in the 10th off Gastonia’s Parker Bugg. Long, Jr. stole second to move into scoring position, ahead of a pair of four pitch walks to Ryan Grotjohn and Ben Aklinski. Quincy Latimore hit a ball off the end of his bat that was fielded by Bugg, but Long, Jr.’s head first slide to the plate beat the throw, giving the Rockers a 2-1 lead. Zander Wiel then lifted a sac fly to right that allowed Grotjohn to score from third for a 3-1 advantage.

Ryan Dull put the Honey Hunters down in order on a strikeout and a pair of infield pop outs to preserve the win and give High Point a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series.

“That was a great win,” said Rockers manager Jamie Keefe. “Everybody played a part in it. We were able to grind it out and that’s what this series is going to be like, we just have to keep grinding them out.”

Neither team could crack the scoreboard through the first three innings. The Rockers broke through first when Quincy Latimore hit a one out single in the fourth off Gastonia starter Gunnar Kines. Wiel followed with a double to left that put two Rockers in scoring position. Beau Taylor singled to right, scoring Latimore, but Wiel was out at home on a strong throw from Gastonia right fielder Eric De La Rosa to catcher Scott Manea.

The Honey Hunters tied the game in the bottom of the fourth with an unearned run off Rockers starter Brandon Leibrandt. Manea’s grounder to short was fielded cleanly by Grotjohn but his throw to first was in the dirt allowing Manea to continue to second. De La Rosa then singled to left and Manea slid in just ahead of the throw from Daikan Yoh.

Leibrandt went seven strong innings, allowing just four hits while walking two and striking out two. Cam Bedrosian started the eighth for the Rockers and put Gastonia down in order, recording a pair of strikeouts.

Kines exited with one out in the seventh, having given up four hits and two walks with three strikeouts. The Honey Hunters’ Bryan Blanton finished off the seventh inning and Nick Wells threw a 1-2-3 inning in the eighth.

Graham Spraker came on in the ninth for the Honey Hunters and struck out Latimore before walking Wiel. Beau Taylor hit a sinking line drive to right that De La Rosa made a nifty play on for the second out. Yoh then hit a flare to shallow center that went for a base hit as Wiel motored all the way to third. Rockers manager Jamie Keefe opted to pinch-hit switch hitter Michael Martinez for Diego Goris. But Martinez scorched a grounder to right that was fielded by first baseman David Washington for the third out of the inning.

Jameson McGrane entered in the bottom of the ninth for High Point and allowed a one out single to Manea. McGrane got Braxton Davidson to fly out to right then retired De La Rosa on a grounder to Grotjohn at short.

Game 2 of the South Division Championship series will take place on Wednesday at 6:35 p.m. at CaroMont Health Park. Game 3 will take place at Truist Point on Friday at 6:35 p.m. All of the Rockers playoff games are streamed live on FLO Baseball and also available on the Mixlr app.

NOTES: The Rockers won the opening game of an ALPB playoff series for the first time. The Rockers were swept by Long Island in the Division Series in 2019, lost game one at Gastonia in 2022 and dropped the first game of the League Championship series last year at home to Lancaster.


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