Sophomore third baseman Shane Basen (Waxhaw, N.C. / Marvin Ridge HS) had a career-high five RBI to power the No. 25 Charlotte 49ers past Massachusetts 11-4 to open an Atlantic 10 Conference baseball series Friday afternoon at Earl Lorden Field. The win was the 600th in the 19-year career of Charlotte head coach Loren Hibbs (600-449-3).
"There were several players at breakfast this morning that were talking to me about getting my 600th win. And after the game, (Associate Head Coach) Brandon (Hall) and (Assistant Coach) Kris (Rochelle) came up to me and congratulated me when we won. For players and assistant coaches to take the time and verbalize that means a lot to me. I am proud of what we've accomplished here, but there have been a lot of people involved, good players and coaches throughout the years, in a win total like that. It's a good deal that we're all proud of, but we also want to go out and try and get 601 tomorrow."
Charlotte is 33-9 overall with wins in its last four contests, and with the La Salle loss earlier in the day, the 49ers have a two-game lead atop the A-10 standings, at 12-4. The Minutemen slip to 13-22 on the season, 5-8 in league play.
Massachusetts stormed out of the gate with three runs in the first on three straight RBI singles with two outs. UMass had four hits total in the first, half of their total for the day.
The 49ers took their first lead in the second on three hits, three walks and an error as they sent 10 men to the plate in that frame. Catcher Ross Steedley (Granite Quarry, N.C. / East Rowan HS) singled up the middle to score the first two runs of the frame. With two outs in the inning, Basen doubled to right center to score two more runs and the 4-3 lead.
The 49ers extended the lead to two runs after an RBI double to right center by shortstop Justin Roland (Salisbury, N.C. / East Rowan HS) scored first baseman Kevin Gillespie (Bedford, Ind.) from second.
Massachusetts closed the gap to one run after a leadoff double by designated hitter Dylan Begin led to a run on an RBI groundout by center fielder Rich Graef in the fourth.
Charlotte then scored three runs in the fifth and three more runs in the sixth to take command of the game and finish the scoring. The top three batters in the lineup all recorded an RBI after the bottom three led off the inning and all reached base in the fifth. In the sixth, UMass struck out the first batters of the frame before the bases were loaded with a run in on two walks, a double and an error with a run already in for Basen, who recorded his third hit with the bases loaded this season to score two more.
Basen singled in the top of the eighth to record a career-high-tying four hits in the game.
Charlotte starter Andrew Smith (Matthews, N.C. / Butler HS) started tenuously, allowing the three runs on four hits in the first, but settled in for his conference-leading eighth win of the season (8-2). He allowed eight total hits and four runs on 109 pitches in 6.2 innings. He walked one and struck out six. His ERA rose to 1.70 with 74 total innings pitched this season. He is 5-1 in six conference starts, with a 1.27 league ERA.
Massachusetts junior starting pitcher Glen Misho took the loss for the Minutemen (5-2). He lasted five innings, giving up nine hits and six walks. Three of the eight runs charged to him were earned. He struck out one batter.
Gillespie set a season high while Steedley set a career high with three runs scored each. Senior outfielder Justin Wilson (Canton, N.C. / Pisgah HS) was 1-for-1, with an RBI as he was hit by a pitch, drew three walks and recorded a sacrifice fly in the contest. Redshirt sophomore outfielder Tony Montalbano (New Orleans, La.) also drew three walks and recorded two hits to finish 2-for-3 with six plate appearances.
All nine offensive starters for Charlotte either recorded a hit or scored a run. The Niners outhit the Minutemen 13-8.
Game two of the series will be Saturday, with the first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m.
NOTES: Charlotte improves to 26-2 when recording more hits than opponents this season... The 49ers are 30-5 when holding opponents to fewer than six runs... Charlotte is also 32-2 when scoring more than two runs this season and 11-0 when reaching a double-digit run total... Charlotte has trailed in each of its last four games, all wins... The Niners have outscored opponents by a 45-4 run margin in second innings this season... The 49ers are outscoring opponents 89-33 after the sixth inning in games this season... Charlotte's team ERA of 2.14 will still rank lowest in the country after today's games.