Season ends for High Point Rockers in playoffs

HIGH POINT – Professional baseball for the season has ended in the Triad.

The High Point Rockers were eliminated in the Atlantic League’s South Division championship series Monday afternoon.

The Gastonia Honey Hunters defeated the Rockers 9-3 in Game 5 of the best-of-5 series at Truist Point.

The Honey Hunters scored in each of the last six innings. High Point led 2-1 through four innings.

“This is a tough game and it will rip your heart out sometimes, and that’s what it’s doing right now,” Rockers manager Jamie Keefe said. “But at the end of the day, I’d go back to war with all 30 of these guys and play another 124 games. You spend 180 days with these guys and I can’t tell you just how special this team is.”

The Rockers posted the most wins in team history with a 78-46 regular-season record and reached the playoffs for the second year in a row. They were the South Division first-half champions and shared that distinction with Gastonia in the second half.

Beau Taylor’s solo home run gave the Rockers a 1-0 lead in the second inning Monday. Gastonia’s Zach Jarrett homered in the fourth. Ryan Grotjohn homered for the second day in a row to put High Point back ahead.

The Honey Hunters tied the game in the fifth and went ahead in the sixth on Jason Rogers’ solo homer off Rockers starter Justin Nicolino.

Rogers homered again in Gastonia’s four-run eighth. Starting pitcher Gunnar Kines was the winning pitcher, going six innings. Zach Mort, the Game 2 winner, worked four innings for the save and was named the Most Valuable Player of the series.

Gastonia moves on to the Atlantic League championship series against the Lancaster Barnstormers, who won the North Division by sweeping the Long Island Ducks.

High Point and Gastonia split the first two games of the series in Gastonia. The Honey Hunters won Game 3 by 11-8 on Friday night before a postponement Saturday pushed Game 4 to Sunday.

The Rockers extended the series by winning 3-2 on Ben Aklinski’s run-scoring single with one out in the bottom of the ninth.

By Randolph Record