HIGH POINT — The Hushpuppies were able to have a bit of fun as they ended the regular season and stormed toward the Old North State League playoffs.
High Point jumped to a big lead early and crushed Reidsville 16-4 as both substituted frequently late in a game that was stopped by a 10-run mercy rule in the middle of the seventh.
It was the Hushpuppies’ last game this season in Truist Point because playoff games are elsewhere in the league. Bouncing back from a 4-3 loss in the second game of a doubleheader Tuesday, they finish with a 21-8 record, the only team in the league to win at least 20 games.
“Yes it’s certainly the way you want to go into the playoffs,” Hushpuppies coach Brandon Nelson said. “I told the guys to enjoy tonight because it’s likely the last time they get to play on this field unless they play for the Rockers someday.”
Of the nine players in the Hushpuppies’ starting batting order, seven cracked hits, eight scored runs and seven were credited with at least one RBI. They scored three in the first, five in the second, six in the fourth, one in the fifth and one in the sixth.
“When we get our bats going like that, we can be scary,” Nelson said.
They pounded 14 hits and drew 10 walks that included four in the first.
Hot-hitting shortstop Oliver Zohn went 2 for 3, walked twice, scored two runs and laced a two-run triple to deep center in the fourth. Isaiah Gibbs was 2 for 3 with two RBI singles and a run scored, James Denten went 3 for 4 with a RBI single in the second and three runs scored. Cam Farrar was 1 for 3 with a run and a RBI walk. Ryan Frazier launched a two-run double in the first, Derek Fay was 3 for 4 with a two-run single in the second and two runs scored/ Cam Barefoot was 1 for 2 with a walk, a RBI single and two runs scored.
“Everybody did something,” Nelson said.
In the last couple of innings, Nelson let pitchers contribute at the plate or in the field.
In the sixth, he let Wake Forest hurler Andrew Rust bat and Rust hit a grounder that drove in a run.
At the start of the seventh, he inserted pitcher Conrad Hansel as the right fielder. He later lifted pitcher Jacob Mead an out away from a complete game so that he could move first baseman Cam Farrar to the mound and get Landon Murray, a pitcher who saw almost no action this season because of injury, into the game at first.
The Hushpuppies substitutions came well after Reidsville made wholesale changes in the fifth.
“We were trying to have some fun with it,” Nelson said. “Cam had pitched in high school and Landon was a last minute decision after someone suggested putting him on the field because he wasn’t going to get to play otherwise.”
The West Division champion Hushpuppies begin the single-elimination playoffs on Sunday at Jaycee Park in Reidsville against the fourth-place team in the East, either Sanford or Brunswick. The other rounds are on succeeding days.
Nelson plans to give his team a break.
“We’ll have some days off and try to relax and not think about baseball because these guys have played 29 games and won 21,” Nelson said. “They’ve earned a little bit of rest and we’ll get back at it the day before we play and have a good practice and get ready for whoever we play on Sunday.”
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