CPL: HiToms close first half with another tough loss
Monday's result for High Point-Thomasville exemplified the kind of first half to the season it has been.
Though having more hits, a strong pitching effort and solid defensive play, the HiToms were once again on the short end of the scoreboard in a 3-1 loss to Fayetteville. It was the finale for the first half pennant race that saw the club from the Chair City finish fifth in the West with a 12-16 record.
“Another frustrating evening,” said skipper Austin Love after a lengthy meeting with his team on the Finch Field infield. “To outhit them and play good defense with a quality start … just really frustrating to not win the game.”
Starting pitcher Jordan Simons (1-2) did his part for the HiToms, working six innings with eight strikeouts and one hit. His only struggles appeared in a long third inning that wound up being the difference in the game.
After giving up a solo home run to Michael Bozarth, he walked four of the next five batters to bring another SwampDog across. The bases remained loaded with two outs, but a liner to right field was safely put away by Austin Crutcher to end the threat.
The HiToms wasted a chance in the fourth inning, having runners on first and third with one out but coming away empty. A similar situation in the sixth would finally produce a run, but there was more that could have been had.
Des Roberts reached on an error to lead off. Crutcher followed with a sharp come-backer to the mound that Rayne Raven got a glove on but could not finish the play. Roberts and Crutcher teamed up for a double steal that put both in scoring position with still no outs. Clemson's Glenn Batson hit a fly ball to left field that scored Roberts from third. Aware of his team's struggles to drive home runners in scoring position, Love had Crutcher tag up from second on a throw that was cut off on its way home. The relay to third nailed Crutcher, abruptly changing the landscape of the inning in favor of the SwampDogs.
High Point-Thomasville was aggressive again in the seventh but another defensive play kept the HiToms from tying the game.
Josh Ingram smoked a double to left-center that had Spencer Mahoney off and running from first. Waved around third, Mahoney darted toward catcher Sam Hall for an encounter at the plate. The throw from shortstop Jason Blum was on target and in time, as Hall applied the tag.
Fayetteville used the momentum to score an insurance run in the eighth for a two-run lead that was not threatened.
“They made some good plays when we were trying to attack the plate,” said Love. “The runner they threw out in the gap was huge and a big momentum swing.”
Crutcher finished with two hits and Kameron Stewart had two hits as well for the SwampDogs.
Sports Editor Zach Kepley can be reached at 888-3631, or firstname.lastname@example.org.