Charlotte starting pitcher Andrew Smith (Matthews, N.C. / Butler HS) tied his career high with eight strikeouts, but the 49ers could not get the offense going in a 7-1 home loss to Ball State to begin a three-game series at Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium on Friday night. The loss ends the 49ers four-game home win streak and drops Charlotte to 10-3 on the season. Ball State snaps a seven-game losing streak and moves its record to 2-11.
Smith pitched out of a jam in the third, with the leadoff runner reaching third on a double and a balk. He induced a popout and struck out the next two to finish the frame scoreless. Charlotte put runners on third in the third and fifth innings, but could not scratch runs across early on.
The Cardinals loaded the bases on three straight one-out singles before a fielder's choice groundout scored the first run of the day in the fourth. The Cardinals became the first team to bat around in an inning against Charlotte this year in the sixth, scoring six runs on five hits. Only two of the runs were earned against Smith, who left after 5.2 innings. He gave up eight hits with no walks and three of the five runs charged to him were earned. He has 25 strikeouts in four starts this season.
Ball State starter Cal Bowling did not allow a run in his 6.2 innings. He scattered four hits and two walks in that span, striking out five.
The 49ers were able to score an unearned run in the bottom of the ninth off of reliever Jon Cisna. Freshman designated hitter Justin Seager (Kannapolis, N.C. / Northwest Cabarrus HS) singled to right and later scored on an infield error to prevent the shutout. Seager now has a hit in all seven games of his college career, the longest active streak on the team and tying the season-long streak by Corey Shaylor (Charlotte, N.C. / Independence HS).
Cisna pitched the remaining 2.1 innings, giving up four hits, with two strikeouts.
Shortstop Mitch Widau had a game-high three hits for the Cardinals.
The two teams continue the series Saturday at 2 p.m.
NOTES: Charlotte is outscoring opponents 20-3 in innings seven, eight and nine, with no runs allowed in either the eighth or the ninth this season... All three Charlotte losses have come when scoring less than three runs this year...