Gastonia takes series lead

Sep. 24—HIGH POINT — The Rockers must come from behind in their quest to win their Atlantic League playoff series.

Gastonia put together two big innings, rolling to an 8-2 victory in Game 3 of the South Division Series at Truist Point. Game 4 is tonight with the Rockers, down 2-1, needing a win at home to force Game 5 on Sunday.

High Point managed just two hits against four Gastonia pitchers. Ben Aklinski provided the only highlight, cutting Gastonia's lead to 4-2 with a homer to right in the fifth after Zander Wiel walked. The Rockers had just two more base runners, both Logan Morrison (hit by pitch in the first and single in the sixth).

Jake Skole laced two triples for Gastonia as he drove in two runs and scored one. The first one was the key in a three-run fourth that put the Honey Hunters up 4-0. It scored batters who singled and doubled, and was second straight off the center field wall. Skole then scored on an RBI single, the last run allowed by Rockers starting pitcher and loser Mitch Atkins, who went five innings.

Skole's other triple started a four-run sixth in which Gastonia batted around and offset Aklinski's shot. Skole scored when Junior Rincon was called for a balk. Rincon then walked two and was replaced by Bryce Hensley, who allowed a run-scoring sacrifice fly and two RBI singles.

"It was a tough one," Rockers manager Jamie Keefe said. "Miche kept us in the game and they got to our bullpen tonight. They made some mistakes and they capitalized. We'll come back tomorrow and be on all cylinders offensively and make a series out of it."

Gastonia never trailed after Joseph Rosa homered in the first.

Keefe said that Jerry Downs is likely out for tonight's game after reinjuring the hamstring pull he suffered in Wednesday's game at Gastonia. Downs lasted just one at-bat at designated hitter and was replaced by Roldani Baldwin.

"We lost Jerry so someone has to step up," Keefe said. "Someone else will be in there tomorrow and hopefully they'll take care of business."

Neil Uskali is expected to take the mound for the Rockers tonight.