HIGH POINT – Building upon three strong outings against Gastonia, the Rockers continued rolling and cruised to their second win of the season against Lexington on Friday night.
Tommy Lawrence continued a string of strong outings by High Point starting pitchers, Johnny Field and Jared Mitchell hit home runs, and the Rockers held on 7-5 at Truist Point.
A week after getting rocked by Lexington, Lawrence held the Legends in check with his strongest start since June.
Lawrence scattered six hits, giving up one run on a homer in the first, fanned five for a personal best and walked one. He gave up eight runs on seven hits in four innings on July 10 at Lexington.
“I mixed in my breaking ball a lot more and trusted my defense,” Lawrence said of the improvement. “I’ve got to trust what I do and believe in the defense more. ... I know I’m not going to blow the ball past guys with a 87-88 mph fastball. I’ve got to make sure the ball’s moving and I’m throwing strikes."
In his previous best outing, Lawrence held West Virginia to one run on three hits over six innings on June 23.
“Tonight I was relying on my breaking ball more,” Lawrence said. “I was pitching off of my slider. My fastball got up to 89 maybe so my slider makes my fastball look faster.”
High Point, which pounded 13 hits, improved to 22-23 with its fourth win in a row, the longest winning streak since taking five straight in the first week of the season
“It was all about Tommy’s start,” Rockers manager Jamie Keefe said. “We did leave some guys on base for the first time in a few days, but at the end of the day we got the pitches that we needed.”
Trailing 1-0, Johnny Field pulled the Rockers even with a leadoff homer in the first, his third of the season.
“Their guy had a good swing in the first,” Field said. “I got a good hitter’s count, 2-0. I was looking for something I could drive and put a good swing on it.”
In the second, Stuart Levy drilled a leadoff single to left and Jared Mitchell followed with a homer off the scoreboard, his ninth of the season, putting High Point in front 3-1.
High Point upped the cushion to 5-1 in the fifth. Mike Gulino drew a lead-off walk and Giovanny Alfonzo followed with a bunt single. Field then blooped a single into center for his second RBI when Gulino scored before Field was thrown out trying to stretch his single into a double. Alfonzo scored on Stephen Cardullo’s grounder to second.
The lead grew to six runs in the seventh. J.R. DiSarcina and High Point University product Joe Johnson singled and each advanced a base on a wild pitch. James McOwen laced a single, scoring pinch-hitter DiSarcina and Johnson before McOwen was thrown out overrunning first.
Johnson replaced Mitchell. Keefe said Mitchell left the game because of swelling in his ankle.
“Guys are stepping up when we need it,” Keefe said. “Johnson and DiSarcina wind up scoring what were the winning runs. I said, ’Hey, rooks, you have to get something done,’ and they did it.”
Lexington added a run on an RBI single in the eighth. With closer Preston Gainey on the mound for the Rockers, the Legends scored three times and brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth.
Lexington loaded the bases on two singles and a walk. The first run scored on a balk call that Keefe argued so vehemently that he was ejected, and single scored the other two runners.
Gainey then bore down and struck out the next three batters.
“Gainey really threw the (heck) out of the ball to strike those guys out,” Keefe said. “Wrap it up, it’s a W and where we want to be.”
Field also helped keep Lexington off the board in the eighth by making a diving catch that denied an extra-base hit. The next batter doubled.
“He got under it just enough that I was able to make a play,” Field said.
The teams meet Saturday at 7:05 p.m. in the second game of a three-game series.