ZooKeepers score six unanswered, dismantle the HiToms on Opening Day


The Asheboro Zookeepers started off their 2024 season against the High Point-Thomasville HiToms.

The two sides renewed their rivalry from last year as they both fight for the coveted “Deer River Cup.”

These two teams played opening day against one another last year in High Point and the HiToms got the better of the zookeepers.

Coming into the game Head Coach Korey Dunbar said that he was excited about the team that he had and could not wait to see what they would be all about. 


The game

The Zookeepers threw Franklin and Marshall colleges Peter Mullen on the mound for opening night. Mullen had a wonderful season for the Diplomats posting a 2.77 ERA. For Mullen though, it was not all sunshine and rainbows for him last night. The first two innings he allowed multiple HiToms to get on base which in turn raised his pitch count significantly. The first two jams he got himself into he did eventually get out of them unharmed, but the third time around he was not so lucky.

In the third inning, the HiToms were finally able to capitalize on the mistakes of Mullen and blasted a three run home run over the right field wall. While Mullen did not have his best stuff on the night, the offense did not back down from the challenge. After the three spot given up from Mullen, the Zookeepers knocked in a run of their own thanks to James Hankerson Jr.

After the Zookeepers were finally able to get a run across the plate the floodgates opened up for them in the ensuing innings. Huge hits from Hunter Atkins and RJ Jimerson allowed the Zookeepers to fly out to a four run lead in the blink of an eye. The real story on the night wasn’t necessarily the quick offense from the Zookeepers but the pitching out of the bullpen.

Relief pitcher David Johnson was tasked with keeping the game close after Mullen exited after three innings. After a bit of a rough start in the fourth for Johnson, he settled in nicely.  Over the course of the last four innings, Johnson did not allow more than two base runners in any inning shutting down the HiToms offense.

Wrap Up

After it was all said and done, Johnson finished off the last six innings giving up just one run and holding on for the Zookeepers.  The Zookeepers won by a score of 8-4 on opening night and start the season 1-0.

Tomorrow night will be another night at McCrary Park in Asheboro as the Zookeepers take on the Boone Bigfoot at 7pm.

Secure your tickets for tomorrow night and all season long at https://zookeepersbaseball.com/

Written By: Cooper Burns