Charlotte senior outfielder Cory Tilton (Cary, N.C. / Green Hope HS) had his second two-RBI hit in the ninth inning this season, but the 49ers rally came up short with the tying run at the plate as No. 17 North Carolina survived a 4-2 win at Boshamer Stadium Tuesday afternoon. The Tar Heels improve to 7-1 on the season, and Charlotte slips to 7-2 after its first road game of the season.
The Tar Heels cruised along through eight innings thanks to a strong outing from freshman left hander Kent Emanuel, who got his first collegiate victory. He tossed eight shutout innings before giving up the pair of runs in the ninth. He allowed four hits and no walks, striking out a career-high nine.
Charlotte had just two hits through eight innings before the surge in the ninth as Emanuel faced the minimum plus one batter in the span. Freshman Justin Seager (Kannapolis, N.C. / Northwest Cabarrus HS) hit a leadoff single to center in the ninth and pinch hitter Miguel Rodriguez (Cape Corel, Fla.) reached on an infield error to put two on without an out recorded for Tilton. He took a 1-1 pitch down the left field line for a double to drive in the runners. Tilton is 2-for-2 in the ninth inning this season, driving a pair each time, including a walkoff single to beat Missouri last Saturday.
Relief pitcher Cody Penny gave up a walk to put runners at first and second, but induced a grounder that turned into a double play and finished off Charlotte with a strikeout looking to end the game and notch his third save of the season.
Charlotte allowed three runs in the first inning, but settled down to blank the Heels over the next five innings before an insurance run came across in the seventh on a sacrifice fly by catcher Jacob Stallings.
Five of Charlotte's seven pitchers did not allow a run, led by reigning Atlantic 10 Conference rookie of the week, freshman Micah Bryan (North Wilkesboro, N.C. / East Wilkes HS), who tossed a career-long 3.2 innings of scoreless baseball.
Junior starter Chad Rothlin (Hickory, N.C. / Foard HS) took the loss (1-1). He pitched 1.1 innings, allowing the three first-inning runs. He gave up five hits and a walk, with one strikeout.
Charlotte begins a three-game home series with UNC Asheville on Friday. First pitch between the two teams, which have not played in nearly 10 years, begins at 4 p.m.
NOTES: Charlotte has outscored opponents 5-0 in the ninth inning this season, outhitting foes .385 to .200 in that frame... Tilton is batting 6-for-12 this season with runners in scoring position. The 49ers are hitting .328 (44-for-134) as a team in those situations... Charlotte was 29-5 at home, 8-10 on the road in 2010 (2-2 in neutral-site games). This was the first of five games this season in which the opponent scored first and Charlotte did not come back to tie the game. Both of Charlotte's losses have come when scoring two runs (the Niners have not scored less than two runs in a game this season.) Charlotte has been outscored 6-4 in the first innings of its last five combined contests. The 49ers have outpaced opponents 18-1 in innings seven, eight and nine in 2011. Both of Charlotte's losses have come when being outhit by the opponent (7-0 when collecting more hits).