The No. 28 Charlotte 49ers scored eight late runs in the final three innings to outlast Saint Joseph's 9-2 to start an Atlantic 10 Conference series Saturday afternoon. The game was moved to Hank De Vincent Field at La Salle University due to rain and scheduling problems with Campbell's Field, site of the Sunday doubleheader. Charlotte is 24-6 on the season, 6-1 in the A-10. The Niners have won five in a row and 12 of their last 13. The Hawks are 11-18, 3-4 in league play.
Both teams threatened in the third, but neither could score thanks to great defense. The 49ers got on the scoreboard first in the fourth after a leadoff double from redshirt senior first baseman Kevin Gillespie (Bedford, Ind.), later resulted in a run when redshirt senior outfielder Cory Tilton (Cary, N.C. / Green Hope HS) lifted a sacrifice fly to bring him home for the lead.
The Hawks were able to tie the game with a run in the fifth. Catcher Eddie Palmer hit a leadoff single, advanced to third on a double by first baseman Mike Muha and scored on a sacrifice fly from shortstop Anthony Cirillo. That run broke up a run of 24 straight scoreless innings thrown by Charlotte starter Andrew Smith (Matthews, N.C. / Butler HS), who had not allowed a run in his last three starts, including both in conference.
Charlotte then scored the eight late runs when the Saint Joseph's bullpen gave up eight walks and seven hits, while the offense committed three errors late in the game.
Outfielder Justin Wilson (Canton, N.C. / Pisgah HS) scored the go-ahead run on a throwing error in the seventh, and back-to-back bases-loaded walks to senior second baseman Corey Shaylor (Charlotte, N.C. / Independence HS) and Tilton pushed across two more runs. Tilton's second RBI gave him a team-leading 33.
Pinch hitter Miguel Rodriguez (Cape Coral, Fla.) drove in a run in the eighth with an RBI single, and third baseman Shane Basen (Waxhaw, N.C. / Marvin Ridge HS) drove in a pair with a double in the ninth. Sophomore Michael Green (Richmond, Va. / Thomas Dale HS) had the second pinch-hit RBI of the day with a single in the ninth before Gillespie singled through the right side for his first RBI of the day and the last run of the game for Charlotte.
The Hawks scratched across a run in the ninth off of reliever Chad Rothlin (Hickory, N.C. / Fred T. Foard HS) on a walk and a pair of singles before he was able to finish out the game and collect his first save of the season.
Smith got the win for Charlotte, improving his record to 6-1. He allowed one run on eight hits and a walk in a career-long 7.2 innings, striking out five.
The loss went to Hawks starter Kyle Mullen, despite 10 strikeouts. He pitched 6.1 innings, allowing seven hits and three walks, with four earned runs charged to his ledger.
Charlotte outhit the Hawks 13-10 and the teams combined to leave 27 runners on base with some solid defense.
The two teams will attempt a Sunday doubleheader at 11:30 a.m. at Campbell's Field in Camden, N.J.
NOTES: Charlotte has not lost when leading after eight innings (18-0)... The team improved to 23-1 when scoring three or more runs... The Niners have outscored opponents 71-29 from the seventh inning on... The team ERA slid up slightly to 1.91 on the season... Charlotte was second in the nation in ERA (by 0.02) coming into this week... The 49ers have held opponents to two or fewer runs 18 times, and are perfect when doing so this season.