CHARLOTTE, N.C. – UNC Asheville put together a three-run fourth inning snapping a 1-1 tie en route to a 5-1 victory over Charlotte on Wednesday afternoon. The Bulldogs (3-7) scored all five of their runs unanswered to slide the Niners (2-7-1) winless streak to seven.
“We had some really, really poor at-bats in times we just couldn’t have poor at-bats,” remarked Head Coach Loren Hibbs. “We did a good job of getting runners on but made a couple of really bad base running mistakes. We still have a lot of adjustments to make.”
The Niners struck first for the sixth time this season in the home half of the second as Mikal Hill started things off with a one-out single. Two pitches later, Hill took off for third on the pitch and easily scored as Des Roberts sliced a single to left executing a perfect hit-and-run for a 1-0 lead.
The one-run lead was short-lived as UNC Asheville came back to tally the equalizer a half-inning later in the third. Lucas Owens began the frame with an infield single to the hole at short and moved to second on a Kyle Carruthers sacrifice bunt. Tommy Houmard would come up with the big hit two batters later bringing in Owens with his two-out single to left.
UNC Asheville pushed it to a three-run lead adding three in the fourth before extending it to four with another tally in the sixth. Hunter Bryant started with a leadoff walk and scampered to third on Eli Miller’s double to left. Erik Connolly drove both Bryant and Miller in two pitches later with his double to left-center. Owens would lift a sacrifice fly to left later in the frame to score Connolly putting UNCA up 4-1.
In the sixth, a two out throwing error by Hall at short kept the inning alive for Phillip Treadway who promptly doubled to the wall in left-center scoring Connolly with the unearned run providing the final 5-1 score.
Charlotte mounted a rally in the bottom of the ninth as walks to pinch-hitters Jordan Hudson, Kenny Palmer and Nick Daddio would load the bases with one out. UNC Asheville reliever Scott Robinson retired T.J. Nichting on strikes and got a fly ball to center by Brad Elwood to end the contest.
“Nichting wants to be in that situation,” Hibbs commented in reference to the bases loaded situation in the ninth. “He takes the first two pitches as a right handed hitter and then they bring in the righty so he flips over to hit left handed and he’ll tell you he chased a pitch that wasn’t in the strike zone and that’s going to happen sometimes.”
Hill led the Niners offensively with a 3-for-4 outing at the plate, now leading the team with four multi-hit games. Roberts would add a pair of hits as Charlotte collected 10 as a team, the seventh time in 10 games reaching the double-digit hit plateau.
The Niner bullpen continued to come around on Wednesday as Ryan Mas, Brett Bond, Hunter May and Nate Traugh kept the Bulldogs in check at the dish. Mas went 1.2 innings allowing the unearned run on one hit with two strikeouts. May would fan a pair in his two innings of work while Traugh retired one of the two batters he faced on strikes.
Charlotte will now move into Conference USA play for the first time this season beginning their 30-game league schedule on Friday afternoon. Florida International, ranked #21 nationally, will be the Niners first conference foe coming into Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium as the weekend series opens up Friday at 4:00 p.m. Charlotte will send RHP Ryan Butler (1-0, 1.50) to the mound as the Golden Panthers will counter with RHP Mike Franco (2-0, 1.65).
Tickets for the weekend’s Conference USA series with FIU are available by calling the Charlotte 49ers ticket office at 704-687-4949. Live stats and live video will be available for all three games through http://www.charlotte49ers.com. In-game updates will also be provided via Twitter by following @49erGameDay.
· Charlotte’s Corbin Shive set a new career-high striking out six in his start against UNC Asheville on Wednesday.
· Charlotte racked up 10 hits in the loss on Wednesday marking the seventh time in the first 10 games of eclipsing the double-digit hit mark as a team.
· In the midst of the 10 hits, the Niners saw all four lengthy hit streaks get extended after Wednesday. Brett Lang has hit safely in all 10 games now while Brad Elwood pushed his to eight. T.J. Nichting (7) and Mikal Hill (5) each extended theirs as well.