|Baseball Travels to ODU, Weekend Schedule Changes|
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – After playing their best two games of the season against a pair of non-conference opponents midweek, the Charlotte 49ers baseball team will look to continue that momentum heading to Old Dominion for a Conference USA weekend series in Norfolk, Virginia. Friday’s game has already been moved up to 3:00 p.m. to beat incoming weather.
Charlotte (5-16-1, 0-9 C-USA) will look for its first win in league play after scoring season-high runs in back-to-back contest. On Tuesday at Winthrop, the Niners put together a five-run fourth inning and kept the gas pedal down cruising to an 11-2 victory over the Eagles. In the fourth, Logan Sherer would come up with the big hit lining a two-run triple to the gap in right-center capping off a frame where Mikal Hill, Des Roberts and Brad Elwood each picked up RBI in the frame.
A T.J. Nichting fielder’s choice and Winthrop error in the seventh led to two more runs while a Brett Lang double and Eric Eason single provided both runs in the eighth. To wrap things up in the ninth, Roberts and Sherer would each tack on the final RBI of the night with a single and fielder’s choice. Corbin Shive (1-2) got the win on the mound tossing a career-high six innings allowing two unearned runs on five hits with five strikeouts. Nate Traugh struck out the side in the seventh and worked a clean eighth before Hunter May recorded a strikeout in his ninth.
“The conditions were not very good with the wind blowing straight in at about 25 miles per hour, but we played well,” remembered Head Coach Loren Hibbs. I thought Shive did a lot of good things to set the tone early. We did a lot of positive things on offense and defense.”
The momentum in all phases carried over into Wednesday night’s contest as Charlotte shutout UNC Asheville 9-0 at home. Brandon Vogler, Micah Wells and Sherer combined to throw a four-hit shutout as Vogler, following Shive’s performance, was equal to the task firing a career-high six frames allowing three hits with a career-high seven strikeouts. Wells would fan a career-high four in his two innings of work while Sherer closed things out comfortably in the ninth.
Shive immediately helped the Niners jump on the board in the first inning as back-to-back walks to Hill and Nichting paid off when he doubled down the left field line. Charlotte would quickly blow things open with back-to-back three-run frames in the third and fourth bolting out to a 7-0 lead. Sherer and Elwood received bases loaded walks in the third while Zach Jarrett singled home Roberts.
Sherer came up big once again in the fourth as his double off the wall in right cleared the bases in the midst of his four RBI night. Insurance in the eighth came as Nichting drew Charlotte’s third bases loaded walk of the night while Shive was hit by a pitch for the second time to score Eason.
“Again, we did a lot of good things against Asheville,” continued Hibbs. “Vogler was good for us in a starting role and our bullpen was really good. We have a little more balance in our lineup right now.”
On Tuesday, every player would either score and/or drive in at-least one run while on Wednesday the balanced attack continued as eight of the nine starters each collected a hit.
Gallello continues to lead the Niners with an even .300 average heading into the weekend. Charlotte’s team average is now up to .239 while the pitching ERA has dropped to just a point above four.
Old Dominion (14-10, 4-5 C-USA) will enter this weekend after four days thanks to their midweek matchup with VCU being snowed out. Last weekend, the Monarchs took two-of-three at Louisiana Tech in Ruston registering their first C-USA series win of the year.
In Friday’s series-opener, ODU scored a pair of runs in each of the first two innings to claim an 8-6 win fighting off a Louisiana Tech rally. The Bulldogs put up a pair of runs in the eighth and a final run in the ninth before falling short to the Monarchs. Ben Slaton led ODU in game one going 4-for-6 with a double, two RBI and run scored.
Like Charlotte did with East Carolina, both ODU and Louisiana Tech engaged in a Saturday doubleheader to beat incoming weather. In the opener, Bulldog catcher Tyler Qualls belted a three-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the 12th as Louisiana Tech recorded a 9-6 victory in a lengthy start to two. P.J. Higgins led ODU going 3-for-3 with a pair of runs scored while Josiah Burney went 2-for-3 with five runs driven in.
Burney continued his strong Saturday play adding three more RBI in game two as Old Dominion picked up a 7-2 win in the nightcap securing the series. The Monarchs, leading 4-2 heading to the ninth, tacked on three insurance runs in the ninth to provide the final 7-2 margin.
Higgins leads the Monarchs with his .318 average playing in all 24 games. Burney leads in the power categories with a team-high five homers and 22 runs driven in to go along with his .306 batting average. ODU enters the weekend hitting .270 as a team with a staff ERA of 3.31.
“They are very well-coached,” said Hibbs. “We have a lot of respect for what they’ve done up there and are in a similar boat we’re in. They have a few older guys that have been through the grind a little bit, but we’re looking forward to it.”
Friday’s series-opener at Old Dominion has been moved up three hours to a 3:00 p.m. start time due to impending weather. Saturday’s action is also slated to begin at 3:00 p.m. with Sunday’s series-finale kicking off at 1:00 p.m. Norfolk has a 60% of rain starting early evening on Friday with a 100% chance of rain through the morning hours of Saturday. Not to be out-done, Sunday sports a 40% chance of rain. All immediate updates to any future changes can be found on Twitter by following @Charlotte49ers, @NinerBaseball and @49erGameDay.
CHARLOTTE/OLD DOMINION PROBABLE STARTERS:
Friday (3pm): RHP Corey Roberts (0-2, 3.56) vs. LHP Ryan Yarbrough (1-4, 4.36)
Saturday (3pm): RHP Ryan Butler (1-3, 2.90) vs. RHP Tommy Alexander (1-0, 3.86)
Sunday (1pm): RHP Brock Hudgens (0-3, 4.04) vs. LHP Andy Roberts (2-0, 2.70)