Outfielder Justin Wilson (Canton, N.C. / Pisgah HS) had four hits and three RBI, but a ninth-inning rally came up short for No. 25 Charlotte as the 49ers fell 8-6 at Dallas Baptist Thursday night to start a three-game season-ending series at Patriot Field. Wilson took over the team lead in batting average, now at .342 in 2011.
The Patriots won their 10th-straight home game and improved to 38-16 on the season, dropping Charlotte to 38-13. The Patriots came in averaging more than eight runs per game, second-most in the NCAA.
The Patriots took the lead with a pair of two-run homers in the bottom of the third inning before Wilson had Charlotte's first hit of the game with a solo home run to left with one out in the fourth. It was his second home run of the season.
The Niners pulled to within a run with a pair of triples in the fifth, scoring two runs in the frame. The first triple of the inning was delivered by outfielder Cory Tilton (Cary, N.C. / Green Hope HS), his fourth of the season. He drove in his team-leading 42nd RBI of the year. The second triple of the frame was hit by outfielder Shane Brown (Davidson, N.C. / North Mecklenburg HS), his second of the season. Both of Brown's extra-base hits this year have been for three bases.
The Patriots added to their 4-3 lead in the seventh on a run coming on a wild pitch. After Charlotte left the bases loaded in the eighth, DBU added three more runs in the eighth on a bases-loaded walk and two wild pitches for an 8-3 margin.
Charlotte got the bases loaded with one out in the ninth on a hit batter and two singles before Wilson singled for the third-straight time to drive in two more. Redshirt junior catcher Ross Steedley (Granite Quarry, N.C. / East Rowan HS) then singled in another run to put the tying runs on base. They were left at second in the third to end the game.
DBU starter Jared Stafford got the win after 6.2 innings to improve to 7-4. He allowed 6 hits and walked two, allowing three earned runs with three strikeouts.
Closer Chris Haney pitched the last 1.2 innings, giving up four hits, with one strikeout for his 13th save of the season. He had five earned runs entering the game and gave up three to the 49ers in the ninth.
The loss went to Charlotte starter Andrew Smith (8-4), who pitched five innings. He allowed four hits and four runs, tying his season high of four walks. He struck out four.
Earlier in the day, the 49ers learned that a decision in another conference game gave them at least a share of the conference title with 17 conference wins. The title gives Charlotte back-to-back titles for the second time in the past five seasons. Charlotte has won four conference championships in six years of Atlantic 10 Conference membership.
Game two of the series was moved up to 3 p.m. Eastern due to forecasted rains in the area Friday night.