Charlotte baseball takes a road trip Wednesday to Spartanburg, S.C. for its only road game in a three-week span when the 49ers visit USC Upstate Wednesday night at Harley Park. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. Due to illness, there will be no live audio for the game Wednesday on the road. ASun.tv will offer live, streaming video for a subscription fee.
The 49ers, which have lost three of four, have never lost at Upstate in four trips. The 49ers are 8-1 all-time against the Spartans, including a sweep of Upstate last season. Charlotte took an 11-0 victory at home last year before winning 12-6 in Spartanburg two weeks later in March. Charlotte enters play Wednesday at 17-10, with a 3-5 road record in 2013. The Spartans sit at 12-10 on the season, but play a road game at Presbyterian on Tuesday afternoon. USC Upstate is 14-6 at home so far this season.
Junior left hander Jason Harris (Austin, Tex. / Barton County CC) will make his sixth start of the season and his fifth midweek start of 2013. He has pitched 21.1 innings, striking out 16 and walking 11 with a 2.53 earned run average. He is 1-1 this season and the 49ers are 4-2 in the six games in which he has appeared (3-1 in his starts). Senior lefty Chris Cox of Upstate will start for the home team. Cox is 1-2 with a 4.32 ERA. He has recorded seven strikeouts and 10 walks this season.
Charlotte junior Justin Seager (Kannapolis, N.C. / Northwest Cabarrus HS) currently leads the Atlantic 10 Conference in hits, runs scored, batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage and is tied for the league lead in doubles and RBI. After playing the first 26 games in left field, he played Charlotte’s last game as the first baseman, where he played most of the games in his career to this point. Seager is 3-for-4 with the bases loaded this season, bats .444 with the bases empty and has reached as the leadoff batter of an inning at a pace of .536 in 2013. He is also batting over .400 with two outs this season and has collected an RBI in 11 of 14 changes with a runner at third and less than two out this season, leading the team in RBI and opportunities this season in those situations. Seager’s 13 doubles are tied for the fifth-most in Division I. Seager is ranked 16th in batting average, 21st in on-base percentage, and 22nd in hits so far this season.
Also as of Monday’s NCAA weekly statistical release, sophomore Brad Elwood (Indian Trail, N.C. / Piedmont), who is tied for the team lead in home runs, is the sixth-toughest player to strikeout in Division I. Relief pitcher Hunter May (Cornelius, N.C. / Pitt CC) still has six wins out of the bullpen this season. Only two pitchers in the country have seven wins to this point of the season and only 15 others join May with a 6-0 record. Of those top 18 pitchers by record, only three pitch regularly out of the bullpen.
Speaking of the bullpen, the relief pitching could arguably be a reason for the team’s successes this year. Relief pitchers are a combined 11-5, with a 2.37 earned run average. Charlotte has had a relief pitcher on the mound for 106.1 innings of the 239 total so far this season. The bullpen has logged six saves to go with 79 strikeouts and 44 walks. Opposing batters have hit just .211 against the Charlotte bullpen. Nine of Charlotte’s relievers, comprising 62 appearances and 99.2 innings are at 2.08 ERA or better. In contrast, the 49ers offense has batted .337 against opposing bullpens this season. Opposing bullpens have been stuck with a 4-9 record and 5.92 ERA in 92.2 innings of work this season. Eight of Charlotte’s 11 home runs have been hit off of opposing bullpens this season. Charlotte has outscored opponents 54-37 in innings seven, eight and nine this season, including three home walk-off wins and the 49ers have scored eight runs in the ninth inning of their last seven games.
Following the contest, the 49ers will play their next eight in a row at home, starting with a home weekend series against UNC Asheville, starting Friday.