Charlotte junior catcher Miguel Rodriguez (Cape Coral, Fla.) hit his first home run of the season and drove in a team-high three RBI, but the No. 25 49ers lost their second game in the last 18 contests, 10-5 at Saint Louis Saturday. SLU evened the Atlantic 10 Conference series at a game each, with the finale moved up an hour to 1 p.m. Eastern at the Billiken Sport Center Sunday. Charlotte slips to 28-7, 9-2 in the A-10. The Billikens improve to 21-15, 3-5 in league play.
Saint Louis scored its first run of the series in the first inning when a Zach Miller RBI double scored Jordan Hammerman from second for a 1-0 lead.
Charlotte took the lead for the first time with three runs on the second. Senior outfielder Cory Tilton (Cary, N.C. / Green Hope HS) hit an RBI-triple off the wall in left center before Rodriguez lined a 1-0 pitch over the left field fence in left to break the tie.
After another lone run in the third by Saint Louis to close the gap to one run, the 49ers again widened the lead back to two in the fifth inning. Left fielder Tony Montalbano (New Orleans, La.) doubled off the fence in left center to start the inning and he eventually scored on a sacrifice fly to center from Kevin Gillespie (Bedford, Ind.) for a 4-2 lead.
The Billikens retook the lead with five runs in the bottom of the fifth, including a two-run homer to left from catcher Connor Gandossy, which broke the four-all tie that inning. Another run made it 7-4 Billikens after five.
Charlotte was able to score its fifth run in the sixth inning on a Rodriguez RBI single, but Saint Louis added three unanswered runs to finish in double digits. It was the only the second time all season that Charlotte gave up 10 runs, and the first one in regulation.
Corey Roberts (Charlotte, N.C. / Olympic HS) took his first loss of the season (7-1). He allowed eight hits and three walks in 4.2 innings, giving up six runs with six strikeouts.
Saint Louis pitcher Jon Levin got the win in relief of starter Brett Vanover. Levin (1-2) went just 1.2 innings, giving up a run on a hit, striking out two. Third baseman Travis Parker moved to the mound in the eighth and finished the game to record his fifth save of the season. He struck out a batter and did not allow a run in the final two innings.
Both teams had 12 hits, as Charlotte took its first loss when equaling its opponents' hits (2-1). Four of Charlotte's seven losses have come when the opponent scored in the first inning (6-4).
Rodriguez led the 49ers with three hits. Four other Charlotte batters had two hits each. Billikens designated hitter Marco DiRoma led all players with four RBI. Miller tied Rodriguez for the game high of three hits.
Charlotte freshman Tyler Barnette (Hickory, N.C. / Hickory HS) will be opposed by junior Zack Smith as the mound matchup for Sunday's finale.
NOTES: The loss was the second for Charlotte on a Saturday and just the second for the 49ers when leading after four innings (19-2)... Charlotte opponents are 4-4 when hitting one home run in a game... The loss was just the second this season for Charlotte when scoring more than two runs (27-2) and the first (1-1) when the opponent scores 10 runs... Charlotte is outscoring opponents 35-3 in second innings this season.