Charlotte baseball opens up the 2013 Atlantic 10 Conference season this weekend with a three-game series at Richmond’s Pitt Field. The 49ers and Spiders have posted the league’s best early records, both entering the weekend at 14-6 overall. The Spiders have posted a 12-3 home mark to this point, while Charlotte is 1-3 on the road this year, including a 3-0 loss at Duke Wednesday. Richmond also posted a road loss on Wednesday, a 9-5 defeat at VMI.
The weekend series starts Friday at 3 p.m. Charlotte junior righty Tyler Barnette (Hickory, N.C.) will make the start in the series opener. Barnette is 2-0, with a 4.02 earned run average. He leads Charlotte with 27 strikeouts and has allowed 10 walks this season. Barnette has a career opponent batting average of .234 and a career ERA of 3.16, both fourth-best in program history. Barnette got the win in his only career outing against the Spiders, tossing 7.2 innings of shutout baseball at home, allowing one hit and two walks and striking out eight as Charlotte defeated Richmond 6-0 at home on May 8, 2011. Barnette was the league's Rookie of the Year that season. Richmond will send sophomore lefthander Zak Sterling. Sterling is the team’s ERA leader, at 2.67 to go along with a 2-1 record. He has 25 strikeouts and 10 walks on the season.
Saturday, Charlotte senior lefthander John Hamilton (Strongsville, Ohio) will start game two of the series, starting at 2 p.m. Hamilton has the low ERA among starters with a 1.88 with a 1-2 record. He has recorded 17 strikeouts and six walks for the season. Hamilton is Charlotte’s all-time leader in earned run average, after crossing the 100-inning threshold this season, with a 2.61 mark. Hamilton has faced Richmond five times, all in relief. He has posted a 1-0 record against the Spiders. In 7.1 total innings, he has allowed one runs on two hits, with seven strikeouts and three walks. Charlotte is 3-2 in games against Richmond in which he appeared. Hamilton will be opposed by Richmond junior Andrew Blum. Blum has posted a 2-0 record, with a 4.18 ERA, adding 24 strikeouts and seven walks.
Neither team has declared a starter for Sunday.
The 49ers have a 13-5 record in the all-time series against Richmond, including a 5-1 mark in games played at Pitt Field. Charlotte has defeated Richmond four-straight times, including twice in the 2011 Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament en route to the third NCAA Tournament visit as a member of the league (’07, ’08, ’11) and fifth trip to the postseason overall (’93, ’98). Charlotte has captured four A-10 regular-season titles in seven previous years in the league (’07, ’08, ’10, ’11) and looks for a fifth crown in its final year of membership.
Charlotte currently leads A-10 teams with a 2.98 ERA. The 49ers are fourth with 136 strikeouts in conference. Charlotte’s .296 batting average is second only to Richmond so far this season, standing at .299 to this point.
Charlotte’s Justin Seager (Kannapolis, N.C. / Northwest Cabarrus HS) leads the conference with 10 doubles and 23 runs scored. His .427 batting average is second-best in the league to this point. Seager has Charlotte’s longest active hit streak, currently at seven games. Richmond’s Bret Williams sits third in the league, at .424 for the season.
The 49ers own the best record in Atlantic 10 games since joining the league in 2006. Charlotte is 122-60 in eight years of league games. The 49ers are the only team with 120 league win in those eight seasons, posting a winning percentage of .670 in that time. The 49ers have won 278 games overall in that time as well, the only team over 240 wins in that time. Richmond is 88-94 in that span in conference games, 180-198 overall.