CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Putting together their best stretch of 2014 winning four of their last five using three complete games, the Charlotte 49ers baseball team will now head west to UTSA for another important Conference USA series this weekend with the Roadrunners. Friday’s series-opener will take place at 7:00 p.m. eastern (6:00 p.m. central) followed by 3:00 p.m. and 12:30 p.m. first pitches on Saturday and Sunday.
Charlotte (12-25-1, 4-13 C-USA) will head to San Antonio after posting a pair of season-highs with 12 runs on 17 hits during Wednesday night’s 12-4 victory over Wake Forest. Corbin Shive also threw in a career-high tossing eight innings allowing three runs on seven hits with four strikeouts. Paired with Hunter May who threw the ninth, neither hurler would issue a walk to the Demon Deacons marking the first time the Niners have done that since February of 2013.
“A great effort by a fifth-year senior,” commented Head Coach Loren Hibbs. “Corbin really, really competes every time he gets a chance to play. We put (Grant) Dunnegan in there against the right-hander and it kept us in a mode where we needed to be defensively because Grant is such a good defensive player and it also helped Corbin take a step back, catch his breath, and focus on his pitching.”
Scoring started in the Charlotte second as Logan Sherer doubled with one out and moved to third on T.J. Nichting’s single to center. Grant Dunnegan would drive in the first of Charlotte’s 12 runs with an infield single to third to plate Sherer. Zach Jarrett, who collected three hits in the win, posted his first of the night moments later to score Nichting with the first of his three RBI on the night.
After a Wake Forest two-run homer in the top of the fourth, the Niners would immediately respond by getting those runs back in their half of the fourth and hold on to the lead the rest of the way.
Nichting started with a single to right-center before a Dunnegan sacrifice, Jarrett walk and Jordan Hudson single to left-center loaded the bases. Mikal Hill would put the Niners back on top with a sacrifice fly to make it 3-2 before Gallello’s infield single brought in Jarrett.
The big blows of the night came in the Niner seventh as the home team put up a six-spot that accounted for their final 12 in the win. Charlotte would capitalize on another Demon Deacon error as Jarrett picked up the first big hit with a bases loaded double off the wall in right to bring in Sherer and Des Roberts. Dunnegan would later come in on another Wake Forest wild pitch as would Hill later in the inning. Hill first picked up a RBI driving home Jarrett with his single back up the middle while Brett Lang finalized scoring with a single to right-center bringing around Gallello.
Hudson would post his second-straight three hit night against Wake Forest going 3-for-4 with a walk and run scored from the leadoff spot. Nichting’s two hits would be the fourth player recording a multi-hit night for the Niners. All nine starters for Charlotte collected at-least one hit in the win while all nine either scored or drove in a run during the victory.
On Tuesday at Wake, the Niners got on the board early again with three runs in the first two frames but saw the Demon Deacons scored eight unanswered runs, benefitting from a bit of controversy, to take an 8-3 win. The Niners got things going early in the top of the first as Derek Gallello and Lang started with back-to-back base hits to put runners at the corners with one out. After Roberts loaded the bases with a walk, Sherer lined a single back up the middle that scored both Gallello and Lang for a 2-0 lead.
In the Charlotte second, Jordan Hudson led off with a double just inside the third base bag that paid off in the third run of the night just moments later. Zach Jarrett would sacrifice Hudson over to third allowing the centerfielder to score on Mikal Hill’s groundout towards first putting the Niners up three.
Wake Forest would add two runs in the third to get within one, using a three-spot in the fifth and three more in the seventh.
“We had a good start Tuesday, but weren’t very good in the middle and not good at the end,” continued Hibbs. “I thought our guys played really good defense on that (turf) surface, but we just didn’t pitch well enough to be successful.”
Charlotte has Lang at the top of the statistics sheet hitting .298 heading into the UTSA series. Lang is one of four Niners hitting over .400 in the last five games as the catcher is hitting at a .450 clip. Gallello has upped his average to .289 overall with a team-best .476 average over the last five games while Hudson and Nichting are each hitting .438 and .421 respectively. The Niners have increased their overall team average to .248 going into the weekend hitting .335 in the recent five-game span.
UTSA (26-15, 11-7 C-USA) enters the weekend on a season-high three-game losing streak after dropping two-of-three last weekend at Old Dominion before slipping up in a 5-2 loss at Houston Baptist on Tuesday. Last weekend was just the second C-USA series loss for the Roadrunners, both on the road, dropping a pair at Southern Miss in late March.
The Roadrunners are 18-7 at home in 2014, 7-2 in league play, and will rely on the offense to return while riding the arms of their starters. Mike Warren leads the club hitting .336 on the year followed by R.J. Perucki standing at .335. Both are at the top of UTSA’s stats in league play just in reverse order hitting .348 and .338 respectively. UTSA hits .283 as a team while maintaining a staff ERA of 2.68 entering Friday’s series-opener.
“UTSA is a very similar program to us, very similar athletic department adding football a few years ago. “They have a great young coaching staff with baseball, they’re going to be very athletic and have great starting pitching. The won the WAC last year and were in a NCAA regional. It’s also going to be hot in San Antonio and that’s better than the alternative.”
Live audio will be provided by the Niners for all three-game by visiting http://www.charlotte49ers.com. Live, in-game updates will also be provided for those fans on Twitter by following either @49erGameDay, @NinerBaseball and @Charlotte49ers.
CHARLOTTE/UTSA PROBABLE SERIES ROTATION
Friday (7pm): RHP Corey Roberts (1-3, 3.10) vs. RHP Brock Hartson (4-1, 1.65)
Saturday (3pm): RHP Ryan Butler (3-5, 3.68) vs. LHP Nolan Trabanino (6-2, 2.72)
Sunday (12:30pm): RHP Brock Hudgens (1-4, 3.46) vs. RHP Justin Anderson (3-3, 2.91)