Frank Nigro is fresh out of Division II Wilmington University, but he made a huge impact at the professional level Wednesday afternoon.
The 21-year old High Point catcher, with his club down to a final strike, slugged a game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth inning, and the host Rockers took advantage of the extra opportunity to produce an 8-7, 10-inning win over the Lancaster Barnstormers at BB&T Point.
With High Point trailing, 7-4, Hector Gomez opened the bottom of the ninth with a double into the right field corner, and Richie Shaffer followed with a walk. Cody Eppley (1-2) got Michael Russell to ground into a 5-5-3 double play, bringing the Rockers to the brink of a loss. Giovanny Alfonzo stroked a roller to the backhand side of second baseman Dan Gamache, who was unable to come up with the play cleanly.
Eppley worked ahead of Nigro, 0-2. The rookie worked the count to 2-2 before belting his game tying long ball, High Point’s fourth of the day, to left field.
After Lancaster failed to score Joe Terdoslavich from second base under the league’s new extra inning rule in the top of the 10th, High Point managed to pull out the win with little effort. Eppley threw a wild pitch which sent Stephen Cardullo to third. Kalian Sams struck out for the first out. The ‘Stormers opted to walk Tyler Marincov and Viosergy Rosa intentionally to load the bases. Gomez ruined the strategy with a first pitch single to left.
The Barnstormers were down, 4-3, entering the top of the ninth. Josh Bell, Parker Morin and Greg Golson all singled off Trevor Frank to produce the tying run. An infield out by Devon Torrence moved pinch runner Zach Shank to third and Golson to second. Michael Martinez was intentionally walked to fill the bases with one out. Gamache drilled a liner to right for a sacrifice fly and a 5-4 lead. Caleb Gindl doubled home two more.
Lancaster had raced out to a 3-0 lead on consecutive, two-out RBI singles by Torrence, Martinez and Gamache in the second inning.
Stephen Cardullo got the first run back with a homer to left center, his third of the series, in the third inning. Shaffer and Russell belted back-to-back homers off starter Jared Lakind in the seventh for the 4-3 lead.
Lakind allowed only five hits and a walk in his seven-inning stint.
The series concludes Thursday evening. Left-hander Buddy Baumann (2-5) takes the hill for the Barnstormers against right-hander Joe Van Meter (3-3). The game is at 6:30.
NOTES: Martinez opened the game with a double and has an extra base hit in four straight…Gamache has batted safely in 15 of 16…Torrence had his first two-hit game of the season…All four runs off Eppley were unearned…The Barnstormers have been outhomered, 6-1, in the series…Sandford stole his 19th base of the season and 146th as a Barnstormer, leaving him three behind the top ten in league history.