Charlotte sophomore second baseman Brad Elwood (Indian Trail, N.C. / Piedmont HS) delivered an RBI single in the fifth inning, but Saint Louis responded with two in the bottom half and the Billikens outlasted the 49ers for the second-straight day to get into a three-way tie for the Atlantic 10 Conference regular-season title 2-1 to finish the regular season Saturday at the Billikens Sports Center. The 49ers and Billikens finished the A-10 schedule at 17-7, joined on the final day by Rhode Island for a three-way split title heading into next week’s A-10 Championships in Charlotte.
Charlotte held Saint Louis, the league's top hitting team, to just four hits in the game, but could not score in the early going with opportunities, leaving nine runners on base in the contest.
With one out in the fifth in a scoreless game, senior center fielder Michael Green (Richmond, Va. / Thomas Dale HS) walked and got to second on a sacrifice bunt from senior shortstop Shane Basen (Waxhaw, N.C. / Marvin Ridge HS) before Elwood singled through the right side of the infield for the RBI.
The Billikens quickly responded with a hit, a hit batter and a sacrifice bunt in the bottom half. A sacrifice fly from third baseman Braxton Martinez tied the game and a ground ball error allowed a second run to score.
Neither team was able to score a run in the final four innings to give SLU the top seed.
The pitching was outstanding again for both teams. SLU starter Nick Bates got to 7-3 with the win. He pitched 6.1 innings, allowing seven hits and two walks, striking out five.
Charlotte junior Brock Hudgens (Jamestown, N.C. / Southwest Guilford HS) tossed seven innings, allowing just three hits and two walks. One of the two runs scored against him was earned, lowering his earned run average to 2.71 in 2013. He struck out three, but took his first loss of the season (6-1).
Charlotte’s Jordan Hudson (Lexington, N.C. / West Davidson HS) and SLU relievers Jon Levin and Matt Eckelman shut down the offenses the rest of the way.
Eckelman got the save, his third of the season after tossing two scoreless innings, striking out three on the afternoon.
Charlotte’s share of the conference title gives the 49ers five conference championships in eight seasons of A-10 membership.
The Billikens earned the top seed, with Charlotte taking second and Rhode Island seeded third in the bracket. Saint Louis earns the bye in the first round, with Charlotte playing against seven-seeded Richmond on Wednesday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. at Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium.
Saint Louis will play at 10 a.m. on Thursday against the winner of the Wednesday morning four/five matchup of Xavier and George Washington.
NOTES: Charlotte lost a pair of 2-1 decisions at Saint Louis to finish the regular season… The 49ers finished the regular season 10-8 in one-run games, but 1-11 when scoring two or fewer runs… The 49ers played nine one-run games in conference, with a 5-4 record in the tightest contests… Charlotte was 10-4 when the opponent scored two or fewer runs, dropping the last two of the season in that fashion… Charlotte’s starting pitching in conference posted a 3.21 ERA, going 11-4.