|Smith's Three-Hit Shutout Gives No. 25 Charlotte Nine Straight Wins, 3-0 at SLU|
Redshirt junior Andrew Smith (Matthews, N.C. / Butler HS) had his finest collegiate outing with a three-hit shutout to help the No. 25 Charlotte 49ers win their ninth straight game in a 3-0 decision Friday night at the Billiken Sports Complex. It was Smith's first career complete game (7-1) as he also set a career high with 10 strikeouts in the 49ers eighth shutout of the season. Charlotte is 28-6 on the season, 9-1 with seven straight Atlantic 10 Conference wins. The Billikens are 20-15, 2-5 in conference play. Saint Louis has dropped five straight contests. The nine straight wins ties Miami (Fla.) with the longest active win streak in the country heading into Saturday's action.
Charlotte scored single runs in the middle three innings, with just one of the three earned against SLU starter Alex Alemann, who went seven innings. Alemann allowed 10 hits and a walk, logging five strikeouts. Saint Louis committed three errors, leading to a pair of unearned runs for the 49ers.
Senior outfielder Cory Tilton (Cary, N.C. / Green Hope HS) reached on an infield error to leadoff the fourth inning. After stealing second, he got to third on a single from catcher Ross Steedley (Granite Quarry, N.C. / East Rowan HS) and scored on a RBI sacrifice bunt from shortstop Justin Roland (Salisbury, N.C. / East Rowan HS) for the lead.
In the fifth, designated hitter Tony Montalbano (New Orleans, La.) drilled a one-out single off the right leg of Alemann. He also stole second and later scored on an RBI single through the middle by first baseman Kevin Gillespie (Bedford, Ind.) for a 2-0 lead.
Charlotte's run in the sixth came on two errors, scoring sophomore outfielder Michael Green (Richmond, Va. / Thomas Dale HS) after he reached on a single, got around to third on a fielding error and coming home on a throwing error in the same play for the game's final score.
The Billikens loaded the bases in the ninth on three walks, but Smith mixed in a popout and two flyouts to complete his gem. He walked four in the game, with only three batters reaching third. The complete game was Charlotte's fourth of the season and gave the 49ers their sixth-straight road win. Charlotte has won 16 of their last 17 games, shutting out five teams in that span.
Charlotte's conference-leading earned run average fell to 1.86 on the season. The Niners had the nation's best ERA as of the weekly NCAA stats report on Tuesday. Smith's ERA dropped to 1.34 with 50 strikeouts in 60.1 innings pitched in nine starts.
Steedley and senior outfielder Justin Wilson (Canton, N.C. / Pisgah HS) each had three of Charlotte's 12 hits in the contest. No Billiken had more than one hit or one walk in the contest.
The Niners will send sophomore Corey Roberts (Charlotte, N.C. / Olympic HS) to the hill in Saturday's 3 p.m. Eastern contest. Roberts has the other three complete games for the 49ers this season.
NOTES: Charlotte has allowed just eight earned runs in 10 Atlantic 10 Conference games... The 49ers have held opponents to two runs or less 21 times, with a perfect 21-0 record in those games... Charlotte has not lost a game in which they led after eight innings (22-0), and the Niners are 22-1 when scoring first this season... Charlotte is 27-1 when scoring at least three runs in a game this season.