CHARLOTTE, N.C. – For the second-straight outing, the Charlotte 49ers rode the arm of a starter as Corey Roberts threw a complete-game three-hitter during a 2-0 Conference USA victory over visiting Tulane on Thursday night. Roberts tossed the Niners third complete game in two weeks and the first shutout since John Hamilton did it last May against Dayton. With the win, Charlotte snaps a six-game losing streak against the Green Wave.
Roberts (1-3) struggled early but settled down after a 1-2-3 top of the third throwing his three-hitter with seven strikeouts. Roberts picked up his fourth career complete game and first since 2011 hurling a career-high 129 pitches finding the strike zone 76 times.
“Roberts actually got better as the game went on,” commented Head Coach Loren Hibbs on the field afterwards. “He’s on short rest because we’re on a short week here and it’s a testament to the work (strength and conditioning coach) Donny (Smith) does with our guys.”
The Niners broke up the scoreless contest in the seventh as Des Roberts extended his hit streak to three with a leadoff double down the right field line. After Corbin Shive executed a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Roberts over to third, the table was set for Jordan Hudson. Hudson lifted a fly ball to left-center deep enough to score Roberts as Charlotte took a 1-0 lead.
Hudson would come up with a much bigger play just a half inning later in the eighth coming up with the throw of the year. Tulane’s Andrew Garner would line a base hit to left-center and try to stretch the single into a double. Hudson quickly tracked the ball down in the gap and fired a perfect strike to second as T.J. Nichting applied the tag to Garner for the second out of the inning.
“Hudson made two of the best plays I’ve seen made in the outfield here in a long time,” continued Hibbs. When asked about Hudson’s throw being the best of the year, Hibbs responded “no doubt about it.”
Charlotte (10-24-1, 3-13 C-USA) added insurance in their half of the eighth as Derek Gallello started the inning with a one-out single to left. Brett Lang followed with a double down the right field line before Nichting flied out to right just deep enough to score a speedy Gallello from third taking the final 2-0 lead. Roberts would work his third and final three-up, three-down inning in an 11-pitch ninth to secure his complete game shutout.
Gallello and Lang each picked up two of the Niners seven hits on Thursday night. Lang recorded his 10th multi-hit game of the season tying him with the team-lead, along with Logan Sherer, in that category. Lang is currently hitting .529 in his last five contests.
“It’s a little different with a Thursday game versus a Friday game, but I thought we locked in and played pretty really well the last three of four innings. Tulane’s got a great program. They’ve got talented guys up and down the lineup. To come in a beat them in the first game of the series is good for our young guys.”
Tulane (15-21, 6-12 C-USA) saw Lex Kaplan record two of the three Green Wave hits in the loss.
Game two of the three-game series will take place on Friday afternoon beginning at 3:00 p.m. Tickets are available by calling the Niners ticket office at 704-687-4949 or online ordering by clicking HERE. Live stats/video will be available through http://www.charlotte49ers.com.
RHP Ryan Butler (2-5, 4.17) gets the start for Charlotte while Tulane will send RHP Randy LeBlanc (3-3, 2.57) to the hill for Tulane.