Nick Ray leads Camels past High Point in first round of Big South tournament, Felton breaks conference hits record
High Point, N.C. – Nick Ray finished 4-for-4 with four RBI and one run scored to lead Campbell (41-16) past High Point 10-4 in the opening round of the Big South tournament that began Tuesday evening and was completed Wednesday morning after thunderstorms forced a suspended game on the first day of play. Michael Felton recorded his 101st hit of the season during the game to set the Big South single season hits mark.
High Point falls to 26-30 and will face UNC Asheville later Wednesday in an elimination game. Campbell will face Liberty in a winner's bracket game to be played either late Wednesday evening or Thursday morning. Stay tuned to GoCamels.com and the Big South Conference baseball tournament page for updated schedule information.
Frank Zier (4-3) relieved Matt Sergey as play resumed and picked up the win after tossing seven innings and scattering four hits and two runs. Zier gave up a two-run homer to Ryan Retz in the only damage that HPU managed against him on Wednesday.
The victory gave CU the team's first Big South Conference tournament victory since the team won the 1990 conference title to earn a bid to the NCAA tournament. Campbell moves to 10-10 all-time in BSC tournament play.
HPU used two infield singles in the first inning to push one run across. Leadoff man Willie Medina reached on a single to shortstop and later scored on Spencer Angelis' infield single to open the scoring. The Panthers added to the lead in the second as Sean Wilson drew a leadoff walk, advanced to second on a groundout and scored on a RBI single from Mike Miedzianowski.
Campbell got one run back in the bottom of the second. David Olson led the inning off by reaching on an error. He then scored on Nick Ray's RBI double to cut the Panther lead to 2-1. HPU starter Ryan Retz struck out Erick Gaylord to end the frame and the weather delay was issued before play began in the third inning.
The Fighting Camels got out to a quick start offensively on Wednesday, using four base hits to score five runs in the team's first at-bat of the day. After Jimmy Brenneman's one-out double, Ben McQuown recorded a RBI single to tie the game. Felton drew a hit by pitch to set up Jake Kirkland's RBI double that put CU in front for good. David Olson was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Ray's two-RBI single. The five-run spurt put Campbell in front 6-2.
High Point answered with a two-run homer from Ryan Retz, who had moved from starting pitcher to DH, in the bottom of the fourth. The two-run deficit was as close as the Panthers would get the rest of the way as Zier held the HPU batters at bay to pick up his first win since March 17. Zier had given CU four starts of at least six innings while allowing two runs or less during the time since his last win.
Felton opened the fifth inning with a single through the right side to pick up his 101st base hit of the season and break the Big South single season mark previously held by UNC-Greensboro's Dominic Pattie and Winthrop's Jacob Dempsey. Consecutive RBI hits from Ray, Ben Fish and Erick Gaylord extended the Camel lead back out to five runs.
Zier worked around two singles from High Point's Josh Spano and Sean Wilson to lead off the sixth inning, getting two fly-outs and a groundout to escape the only inning in which more than one base runner reached. Zier retired the last nine batters he faced to close out the win.
Campbell rounded out the scoring with Olson scoring on a sacrifice fly from Ben Fish in the seventh inning. Olson had reached on a double earlier in the inning and moved to third on a single from Ray. Olson went 2-for-3 with a season-best four runs scored for CU, while Ray posted season highs in hits (4) and RBI (4).
Retz took the loss for High Point, allowing six runs (five earned) on six hits in 2.1 innings of work. Joe Goodman allowed three runs on six hits during 2.2 innings of relief for HPU.
Campbell Head Coach Greg Goff
"This was a great way to start out the tournament, responding from last night's suspended game. I was pleased with the energy level we displayed this morning to come out and compete at a high level against a very good High Point team. We look forward to advancing to the next round."
High Point Head Coach Craig Cozart
"Obviously this is a disappointing loss. I thought we came out last night with a lot of energy and had momentum on our side but today Campbell came out and put up five runs immediately and that was the ballgame. We didn't quit but we couldn't stack hits together. Now we have to figure out to come back and beat Asheville later today."