|Baseball Takes Early Lead, Falls Late to Winthrop|
The Charlotte 49ers scored four runs in the first two innings and led all the way to the fifth, but the Winthrop Eagles took leads three different times and came out ahead in the end with a 6-5 win in non-conference baseball action Tuesday night at Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium. The Eagles improve to 11-22 on the season, with the 49ers landing at 19-13.
The Eagles put up a run in the first with the first two batters recorded hits and a wild pitch from starter Corey Roberts (Charlotte, N.C. / Olympic HS) allowed the run to come across.
Charlotte scored three runs in the bottom half to take the lead. Sophomore second baseman Brad Elwood (Indian Trail, N.C. / Piedmont HS) singled through the middle for the first RBI of the inning before back-to-back RBI doubles from redshirt freshman designated hitter Brett Lang (Charlotte, N.C. / Ardrey Kell HS) and junior first baseman Grant Dunnegan (Clearwater, Kan. / Hutchinson CC) drove in the second and third runs of the inning. Lang’s RBI was his league-leading 32nd of the season.
The Niners recorded another RBI double, this one off the pitcher’s shin with a carom into right field from senior third baseman Shane Basen (Waxhaw, N.C. / Marvin Ridge HS) for a 4-1 lead.
The 49ers committed two errors in the fourth, which led to an unearned run by Winthrop to cut the lead to two.
Three hits in the fifth enabled Winthrop to retake the lead, the go-ahead run scoring on a sacrifice bunt from third baseman Chad Smith.
Charlotte pulled the game back even with a run in the bottom of the sixth. Redshirt senior shortstop Justin Roland (Salisbury, N.C. / East Rowan HS) singled, followed by a single from senior center fielder Michael Green (Richmond, Va. / Thomas Dale HS) to start the inning. After a double play, redshirt senior outfielder Tony Montalbano (New Orleans, La. / Bossier Parish JC) flared a ball out to shallow left center to drive in Roland to tie it up at six.
The Eagles came right back with three hits in the top of the seventh to take the lead for the third time, the RBI coming off the bat of Smith again to create a 6-5 edge, which they held onto for the win.
Steven Howell got the win in relief to improve to 1-0. In the last 3.1 innings, he gave up two hits, but held the 49ers scoreless.
Charlotte reliever Jason Harris (Austin, Tex. / Barton County CC) took the loss (1-3) for the 49ers. He allowed the game0winning run in the seventh after tossing 1.2 innings and allowing one hit and hitting a batter.
Both teams had 11 hits in the game and it was Charlotte’s first loss in three games (2-1) when the hits were tied with the opponent.
The top two Winthrop hitters in the lineup, Leighton Daniels and Jace Whitley, were the top two hitters of the game, with three hits each. Four different 49ers had two hits each, and five different 49ers scored a run with five 49ers driving in a run. Basen, Elwood and Lang both scored and drove in a run in the game. Winthrop’s Smith was the only player in the game to drive in two runs.
Charlotte will return to Atlantic 10 Conference play with a three-game home series against George Washington, starting Friday night at 6 p.m.
NOTES: Dunnegan’s first-inning double pushed his career-long hit streak to eight games… It was Charlotte’s fifth game this season with three or more doubles.