SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Host UTSA would erase an early 1-0 deficit by taking advantage of three Charlotte errors midway through Saturday’s Conference USA matchup to score a 3-1 victory over the Niners to even the weekend series at a game apiece.
Charlotte jumped right on the board in the top of the first as Mikal Hill led off with an infield single to third and moved to third on Zach Jarrett’s fielder’s choice. Hill was able to move to third on a throwing error at short by UTSA in attempt to start a possible double play. Later with one out in the frame, Brett Lang would line the first pitch he saw out into left to score Hill for the short-lived one-run lead.
“I thought we were ready to go and had a good plan early in the game,” commented Head Coach Loren Hibbs. “We just didn’t make any adjustments as the game went on. We let their starter stay out their way too long. We didn’t respond today and execute after winning last night. We still have a chance to win the series but it’s going to be tough.”
UTSA would come right back in the second to take their first lead of the series grabbing a couple of runs after leadoff singles by Jesse Baker and Mitchell Matulia. After a John Bormann sacrifice bunt, C.J. Pickering would ground a single through the right-side hole of the infield to score Baker while a Niner error in the mix led to the second run and a 2-1 UTSA lead.
Insurance for the Roadrunners would come in the sixth as a hit-by-pitch and throwing error on a failed pickoff attempt to first eventually paid off in Logan Kinder’s RBI-single to left.
Charlotte nearly responded with the tying run in the top of the third as Lang crushed a fly ball to deep left-center only to see UTSA centerfielder Jesse Baker track the ball down at the wall to save Hill from scoring what would have been game tying run. Trailing 2-1 entering the fourth, the Niners would have a couple of opportunities with runners at first and second with one out followed by the bases loaded with two outs being unable to cash in with a big hit.
Zach Jarrett’s leadoff single in the fifth, a blooper down the right-field line, would turn out to be Charlotte’s final hit of the day despite out-hitting UTSA 6-5. The Niners would have the leadoff man aboard in three of the final seven innings down by one, but couldn’t come up with the timely hits.
“We just had bad at-bats when we couldn’t afford to,” continued Hibbs. “Several guys didn’t have a plan when they stepped in and we have to clean those things up.”
Nolan Trabanino (7-2) picked up the win surrendering an unearned run on six hits with six strikeouts. Logan Onda (6) picked up his team-leading sixth save going the final three frames perfect with a pair of strikeouts.
The Niners’ Ryan Butler (3-6) took the loss after a better road outing of six innings, allowing three runs, two earned on five hits with a pair of strikeouts. Logan Sherer would give the Niners a chance out of the bullpen tossing the seventh and eighth going six-up, six-down against UTSA.
“Butler was better today. He was better and thought he did well enough to keep us in the game and allow us to have a chance to score some runs. Sherer was really good and thought he did well. We just didn’t move around defensively like we needed to.”
The Niners and Roadrunners will now advance to Sunday’s rubber match and series-finale beginning at 12:30 p.m. eastern, 11:30 a.m. local time in San Antonio. The Niners will send RHP Brock Hudgens (1-4, 3.46) to the rubber opposite RHP Justin Anderson (3-3, 2.91) for UTSA.
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