Charlotte fought back from a two-run deficit to take a one-run lead, but Xavier scored three unearned runs in the sixth and won 5-3 to start an Atlantic 10 Conference series at Hayden Field Friday. The Musketeers improved their season record to 21-15, 8-2 in the A-10. The 49ers slipped to 22-16 on the season, 6-4 in A-10 play. Charlotte has dropped three in a row, all this week.
Xavier scored first with a pair of runs in the second inning after two walks and a hit batter after a bases-loaded single by right fielder Jake Forrester.
The 49ers got runners to second and third with two outs in the top of the third and sophomore second baseman Brad Elwood (Indian Trail, N.C. / Piedmont HS) dropped a single to left center to bring them home and tie the game at two.
After a leadoff walk to redshirt sophomore catcher Patrick Raley (Franklin, Tenn.) to start the fifth inning, the Niners put down a pair of sacrifice bunts to get him to third for senior third baseman Shane Basen (Waxhaw, N.C. / Marvin Ridge HS), who doubled to the wall in left center to give Charlotte the 3-2 lead.
That lead held until the sixth, when the Musketeers got a leadoff walk. The Niners got a ground ball, but failed to get the lead runner on an error. A sacrifice bunt moved up the runners to second and third and a sacrifice fly from Mark Elwell tied the game at three with two outs. Xavier drew a hit batter before first baseman Joe Forney singled through the middle with the bases loaded to score the last two runs of the game.
Charlotte got runners at the corners with one out in the ninth, but a strikeout and a ground out ended the threat and preserved the Xavier victory.
Both starting pitchers did well in the game. Charlotte starter Tyler Barnette (Hickory, N.C.) went seven innings, scattering six hits and three walks in that span. He allowed all five runs, though just two were earned. He also struck out three hitters in a career-long 127 pitches. Barnette has breached the 100-pitch mark in six of his 10 starts this season. He took the loss to drop to 3-2.
Xavier starter Jon Richard got the win, improving to 6-2. In eight innings, he limited the 49ers to six hits and three runs, walking three and striking out two on 97 pitches.
Closer Alex Vice earned his sixth save of the season after walking two and striking out a batter in the ninth.
Six different 49ers had one hit each and six different Musketeers had a hit, with Elwell the only player in the game to record two hits in the contest. Eight different players in the game each scored one run. Basean had the only extra-base hit of the game.
Game two of the series will start at 1 p.m. Saturday.
NOTES: The game was the third this year in which Elwood recorded two RBI and was the 41st multi-RBI effort for Charlotte this season… The 49ers have a total of 15 hits in three games this week… Xavier has won the opening game of the series with Charlotte in three-straight series in Cincinnati.