Charlotte sophomore second baseman Brad Elwood (Indian Trail, N.C. / Piedmont HS) had the game-winning hit, a two-run homer in the top of the ninth as the 49ers came back to win the Atlantic 10 Conference-opening game of the season, 8-5 at Richmond Friday afternoon at Pitt Field. The win was the first for Charlotte this season when trailing after eight innings and the first loss for the Spiders when leading after the eighth this season. Charlotte is now 15-6, 1-0 in the A-10, while the loss dropped the Spiders to 14-7, 0-1 in league play. Charlotte and Richmond were the top two league programs this season by record at the start of the series.
Hunter May (Cornelius, N.C. / Pitt CC) got his sixth win of the season (6-0) in relief. Six wins was the most any pitcher had in the country as of Monday according to the latest NCAA stats release.
Charlotte got the first lead of the game against 2012 A-10 Rookie of the Year and Spiders starter Zak Sterling in the third inning. Freshman catcher Nick Daddio (Huntersville, N.C. / Hough HS) singled, advanced to second on a passed ball, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a single up the middle from senior third baseman Shane Basen (Waxhaw, N.C. / Marvin Ridge HS) for the game’s first run.
The Spiders took their first lead of the game against 2011 A-10 Rookie of the Year and Charlotte starter Tyler Barnette (Hickory, N.C.) with two runs in the third. Right fielder Tanner Stanley dropped a two-RBI single out to right with one out in the third for the lead.
Charlotte tied the game up with a run in the sixth on an RBI double from redshirt senior Tony Montalbano (New Orleans, La. / Bossier Parish JC), his first hit of the season in his second game played in 2013.
The Spiders quickly took back the lead with three runs in the sixth on an RBI single from second baseman Chris Bell and a two-RBI single from catcher J.B. Gadd with two outs in the frame.
The 49ers pulled the game back to within one after a two-RBI single to center from redshirt freshman Brett Lang (Charlotte, N.C. / Ardrey Kell HS), scoring Basen and junior left fielder Justin Seager (Kannapolis, N.C. / Northwest Cabarrus HS), who had back-to-back one-out singles in the inning.
The score held to the ninth, when closer Andrew Brockett entered the game for the Spiders. He was playing in his second game of the season for Richmond. Seager hit a leadoff double to right center, his second of the game and conference-leading 12th of the season. Elwood then drilled a 1-2 Brockett offering to right field for the go-ahead runs. It was his third career home run and third in his last three games for the 49ers. He took over the team lead in that category. Lang then took a 2-2 pitch down the right field line for his first career triple. Montalbano grounded to the infield on a fielder’s choice to score Lang from third and he later scored on a single by reserve Derek Gallello (Fredericksburg, Va. / Riverbend HS) for the game’s final run.
May tossed the final two innings for the victory. He has made a team-high 13 appearances for the 49ers this season and lowered his team-best ERA to 1.75 in 25.2 innings pitched.
Brockett took the loss, allowing the four runs in the ninth on five hits. He struck out one batter.
Barnette and Sterling went six innings each. Barnette allowed seven hits and a walk for five earned runs. He struck out one. Sterling allowed one earned run (two total) on seven hits and two walks, striking out four.
Charlotte left-hander Jordan Hudson (Lexington, N.C. / West Davidson HS) tossed a scoreless seventh inning for Charlotte, allowing one hit, striking out two. He lowered his season earned run average to an even 1.00 after his eighth appearance of the season.
Seager and Lang collected three hits each, along with Richmond’s Stanley. Elwood, Lang and Montalbano for Charlotte tied Stanley and Gadd with two RBI each for the game-high total. Seager and Lang were the only players to score twice in the game.
The two teams will play Saturday at 2 p.m. for game two of the series. Charlotte senior John Hamilton (Strongsville, Ohio) will be opposed by Richmond junior Andrew Blum.
NOTES: Shortstop Justin Roland (Salisbury, N.C. / East Rowan HS) hit his 48th career double in the fourth inning, breaking a career tie with Spencer Steedley, also from East Rowan HS… Roland is now 11th in team history, chasing All-American Barry Shifflett, who has 52 as a 49er… 15 of Seager’s 35 hits are for extra bases this season… He is slugging .696 and leads the team with a .443 batting average… His 13 walks are tied for first on the team and he has an on-base percentage of .537 in 2013… Seager also leads the team with 25 runs scored and 21 RBI… Elwood’s only hit was the home run, extending his streak of reaching base safely to 22 games, dating back to last season…