|Baseball Returns to League Play at Xavier|
Charlotte returns to league play this weekend in a three-game series at Xavier, starting Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. at Hayden Field. Charlotte is 13-12 on the season, starting at 1-2 in the Atlantic 10 Conference. The Musketeers are 9-15 this season, one of three teams with a bye last week. Xavier has only played four home games, including a three-game series with Toledo, a common opponent with the 49ers. Both teams went 2-1 against the Rockets at home this season.
Charlotte will send redshirt senior Andrew Smith (Matthews, N.C. / Butler HS) to the hill. After a 3-0 start, but has lost his last three starts, though he allowed seven earned runs in the first three weeks and seven in the previous three. The 49ers scored 19 runs in his first three starts, but only six over the last three. Smith leads Charlotte with 33 strikeouts into week seven. Smith will be opposed by redshirt sophomore Vinny Nittoli, who is 2-3 to this point, with a 5.64 ERA to this point, with 15 strikeouts and 14 walks to his ledger this season.
Saturday, Charlotte redshirt senior Joe Yermal (Bel Air, Md. / McDonogh HS) starts for the Niners for the second straight Saturday. Yermal leads the team with four wins and a 1.44 ERA in five starts. He has 15 strikeouts and only five walks in 25 innings this season. Yermal needs one win to move into a tie for second all-time in program history with 29 for his career. The Saturday start will tie him with former Niner Tim Collie for the third-most starts in team history. He will be opposed by Xavier lefty Jon Richard, who is also 2-3 with a 6.29 ERA to this point.
Xavier starts redshirt junior Tyler Koors Sunday. The right-hander is 1-3 to this point, with a 6.75 ERA. He has 15 strikeouts and 10 walks this season. Charlotte has not named a starter for Sunday.
The 49ers are 4-2 at Hayden Field, 10-5 versus Xavier all-time, including a pair of extra-inning games, both 11-inning wins for Charlotte. The 49ers have played a three-game series against the Musketeers (and Rhode Island) in each of the four seasons during which Charlotte has won the regular-season conference title in the A-10 (2007, 08, 10 and 11).
Redshirt senior Shane Brown (Davidson, N.C. / North Mecklenburg HS) leads the Atlantic 10 Conference with 37 hits and 18 stolen bases to this point of the season. The 49ers have the second-lowest ERA in the league, at 3.56 through 25 games.
Charlotte closer John Hamilton (Strongsville, Ohio) earned his second win of the season Tuesday following his first blown save of 2012. His five saves are second in the league. As a team, the 49ers have a league-high eight saves to this point.
The 49ers made their biggest comeback of the season Tuesday night, digging out of a 5-0 deficit to tie the game in the 6th at USC Upstate. The 49ers then broke a six-all deadlock in the ninth with a six-run frame to take a 12-6 win for the sixth comeback win of the season and a season sweep of the 18-6 Spartans. The bullpen held Upstate to one hit and one run in the final seven innings. Charlotte's bullpen has an ERA of a full run less than the opposition this season (2.97 to 3.97) and is limiting opponents to a .200 batting average (with the Niners hitting .283 off of opposing relief pitchers.
Charlotte will return home next week, with four home games at Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium.