Charlotte took No. 15 North Carolina State to the wire, with the tying run in the bottom of the ninth thrown out trying to score in a 2-1 home loss to the Wolfpack in front of the largest crowd of the season at Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium Tuesday night in non-conference baseball action. The 49ers slip to 22-14, ending a three-game win streak. N.C. State improves to 29-10, winners of 11 in a row.
The Wolfpack scored a run in the first after the first two batters singled, a sacrifice bunt advanced the runners up one base and a sacrifice fly from center fielder Brett Williams plated the first run.
State got a leadoff single in the second inning before a sacrifice bunt moved the runner to second and an RBI single from designated hitter Sam Morgan plated the run for a 2-0 lead.
Neither team scored in the middle innings and Charlotte bats started to come alive in the late stages, as has been the case this season.
Charlotte got its first hit in the seventh inning from outfielder Tony Montalbano (New Orleans, La. / Bossier Parish) off of Wolfpack senior starter Ethan Ogburn and then another in the ninth from leadoff hitter Justin Roland (Salisbury, N.C. / East Rowan HS) and a fielder’s choice from Michael Green (Richmond, Va. / Thomas Dale HS) before he was lifted with one out. Ogburn tossed 8.1 innings after getting skipped in the rotation over the weekend. He struck out five and did not walk a batter, only allowing the two hits.
Montalbano singled off of reliever Chris Overman before Overman recorded a strikeout for two outs and was lifted for lefty closer Grant Sasser. Second baseman Brad Elwood (Indian Trail, N.C. / Piedmont HS) hit a grounder that kicked off of the State second baseman for an error to score the lead runner, but NCSU caught Montalbano in a run down for the third out between third and home to end the game.
Ogburn improved to 3-2 on the season. Sasser got his sixth save of the season.
Charlotte starter Jason Harris (Austin, Tex. / Barton County CC) struggled early for the two runs in the first two innings, but settled to hold the Wolfpack scoreless over his last 4.1 innings, giving up seven total hits in 6.1 innings with one walk in that span. He took the loss, dropping to 1-4. He also struck out a pair and lowered his season ERA to 3.21 in the effort.
Montalbano and State first baseman Tarran Senay were the only two players with two hits in the contest.
Charlotte starts a stretch of nine games of the next 10 on the road starting tomorrow night at Winthrop for a 6 p.m. start before heading to Xavier for a weekend series.
NOTES: Montalbano has collected two or more hits in five of his last six games... The visit from N.C. State was its first since 2002.