Charlotte freshman starting pitcher Tyler Barnette (Hickory, N.C. / Hickory) allowed just one hit in 7.2 innings as the No. 25 49ers shut out Richmond for the second straight game in a 6-0 Sunday victory at Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium. The Atlantic 10 Conference win kept Charlotte in a first-place tie at 15-6 in conference, with a 36-11 overall record. Richmond slips to 23-21-2, 10-8 in conference. The win assures Charlotte of an Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament berth, based on the remaining A-10 schedule.
The shutout was the tenth thrown by the Charlotte staff this season, tied for third-most in the country. It is also the third time this season that Charlotte has tossed back-to-back shutouts, repeating the feat accomplished in February at home versus Coppin State (three straight games) and in March against Harvard.
The win also clinched the weekend series, giving Charlotte 12 straight home A-10 series victories, tied with Virginia for the seventh-longest home weekend league winning streak in the country.
Barnette set a new career high with eight strikeouts. He allowed two walks, a hit batter and a double to lead off the seventh to outfielder Mike Mergenthaler. Barnette retired 10 batters in a row in the middle of the game.
Offensively, the 49ers scored more runs Sunday than both teams combined in the pitching display in the first two games of the series. Charlotte got on the board with two first-inning runs. Leadoff batter and senior outfielder Justin Wilson (Canton, N.C. / Pisgah HS) singled through the left side of the infield and stole his 60th career base, tenth-most in program history. After another walk, outfielder Tony Montalbano (New Orleans, La.) pushed an RBI single through the left side to score Wilson from second. After a foul out for the first out of the inning, catcher Ross Steedley (Granite Quarry, N.C. / East Rowan HS) recorded an RBI groundout to give Charlotte the 2-0 lead.
The Niners are now 13-0 when scoring in the first inning this season and 26-2 when scoring first in a game in 2011.
In the fourth, Charlotte added to the lead with a single and two walks to load the bases for designated hitter Corbin Shive (Salisbury, N.C. / East Rowan HS), who lifted a sacrifice fly to right for the third run of the day. His high school teammate and current 49ers shortstop Justin Roland (Salisbury, N.C. / East Rowan HS) then singled through the right side for an RBI and a 4-0 lead.
The Niners added two more runs in the seventh after a leadoff walk to Roland and a one-out single to right field by third baseman Shane Basen (Waxhaw, N.C. / Marvin Ridge HS). Following a strikeout, senior second baseman Corey Shaylor (Charlotte, N.C. / Independence HS) drilled a two-RBI double down the right field line and the final runs of the day. Basen has hit in six straight games, the longest active streak for Charlotte, with Shaylor collecting hits in four consecutive contests. It was Shaylor's 10th time with a multiple-RBI day this season, second on the squad. It was also the 35th double of his career.
Barnette improved to 7-1 on the season, the third 49er to reach seven wins this season.
Richmond starter Matt Trent took the loss (1-3) after just four innings of work in 99 pitches. He allowed five hits and four walks, giving up the first four Charlotte runs. He struck out three.
Charlotte's Chad Rothlin (Hickory, N.C. / Fred T. Foard HS) tossed the final 1.1 innings, allowing the other Richmond hit in the game. The contest was the second two-hitter of the season for the 49ers, the other coming at home against Xavier on April 2.
Shaylor's two RBI were the game-high total. Steedley and outfielder Coty Tilton (Cary, N.C. / Green Hope HS) led all players with two hits in the game.
Charlotte will be the first team in the A-10 to finish up the conference regular season, due to bye weeks, next weekend at La Salle. Charlotte will face the Explorers at Hand DeVincent Field in Philadelphia on Friday afternoon at 3 p.m.
NOTES: Charlotte should returnt to the top spot in the nation in ERA (2.19) on Monday... In Charlotte's 10 shutouts, they have allowed an average of 3.9 hits per game, while scoring 78 runs against opponents in those games... It was the second combined shutout for Barnette, going back to his first collegiate appearance against Coppin State on February 19... The combined shutout was also the second this season for Chad Rothlin, going back to his first appearance of the season against Coppin State on February 20... Steedley leads the team with a .439 average (18-for-41) in the final game of a weekend series this season... He also leads the team in batting in A-10 games at .338 (22-for-65)... Barnette is 4-1 in league games with one combined shutout and one complete game... Charlotte is 21-1 when scoring six or more runs... The 49ers are 28-0 when leading after eight innings this season... Charlotte needs a sweep of La Salle next weekend to capture a fourth conference championship in five years... Two wins against La Salle would give the 49ers a bye in the opening round of the tournament.