The High Point University baseball team fell in its first-ever appearance in the Big South Baseball Championship Game, 7-5, to No. 1 seed Campbell on Saturday afternoon at Liberty Baseball Stadium.
"In the end, I feel sorry for our seniors that they don't get to continue to play," head coach Craig Cozart said. "This was a special senior class that took us to places we've never been before. They are true winners and I'm appreciative of their efforts.
The Panthers (34-22) finished the season setting a new Div. I program record for both conference and overall wins, and won at least 30 games for the third straight year.
High Point trailed early in the game as Campbell (35-24) plated two runs in the third and another in the fourth to grab a 3-0 lead. However, HPU relied on its senior class to storm back and take the lead in the top of the fifth.
Senior Austen Zente led the inning off by reaching on an error and came home to score on a two-run homer from senior Hunter Lee, to cut it to 3-2. After freshman Tanner Wells singled, senior Carson Jackson blasted a no-doubt two-run shot to put the Panthers ahead 4-3.
The two homers established a new Div. I program record with 58 long balls on the campaign.
HPU held the lead until the bottom of the seventh when the Camels took the lead for good. Senior Rion Murrah, who had come on in the last of the fourth, yielded a pair of walks with one down before Ty Babin laid down a safety squeeze bunt to tie the game. After a flyout. Luis Gimenez tripled to left-center off the glove of Zente to give the Camels a 6-4 advantage.
Campbell added a run on a sac fly in the eighth to make it 7-4. High Point plated a run in the top of the ninth on a two-out single from Lee to bring the tying run to the plate, but a strike out ended the game.
The Panthers placed four players on the All-Tournament team in Lee, Jackson, Wells, and redshirt-sophomore Harrison Smith.
"This group set the record for most regular season and conference wins in a season and went deeper in the tournament than we've ever been before," Cozart said. "I'm proud of these guys. They got better as the season went along and we were playing great baseball this week. It just wasn't meant to be."