CHARLOTTE, N.C. – UAB starter Johnny Lieske held Charlotte’s bats in check over his 7.2 innings of work on Sunday helping the Blazers complete the Conference USA weekend sweep with a 3-1 victory on Sunday afternoon. Charlotte would squander a couple of early opportunities before getting on the board in the eighth, but would eventually run out of time.
“They’ve got great starting pitching,” remarked Head Coach Loren Hibbs. “That’s one of the formulas to be successful in this league and they’ve had it all year. They moved around and played better than we did.”
As they did in the previous two contests, UAB (30-16, 16-8 C-USA) got on the board first to take a 1-0 lead. Jeff Schalk’s lengthy at-bat resulted in a leadoff walk before Nathan Vincent singled to left. After a sacrifice bunt by Ivan DeJesus, Tyler Mims would bring in Schalk with his groundout to short.
Schalk’s leadoff walk in the fourth again paid dividends soon after Vincent’s double down the left-field line. After a DeJesus line out to first where it appeared Schalk was doubled off of second, Mims would double home Schalk for a 2-0 lead. Matt Morse quickly followed with a groundout to third pushing the Blazer lead out to three.
Charlotte (14-29-1, 6-17 C-USA) would mount a two-out rally in the eighth to get on the board starting with Grant Dunnegan’s free pass to first. After Jordan Hudson reached on an infield single squibbed towards third, T.J. Nichting would drive in Dunnegan on his base hit to right.
“He (Dunnegan) has gotten better,” continued Hibbs. “He works and plays great defense. The issue we have is that we have to have guys in the middle in the order to knock in runs for us. We still have issues that we need to get corrected before the end of the season.”
Earlier opportunities for the Niners included a leadoff double in the fourth by Nichting, one out double by Mikal Hill in the fifth and a leadoff single by Jordan Hudson in the six with nothing adding up to a run.
Lieske (4-2) picked up the win allowing just the one run on five hits with seven strikeouts during his 7.2 innings of work. Turner Lee would work an inning with a strikeout while Cory Eller struck out the final batter of the game to register his third save of the year.
Vincent would collect two hits to lead UAB as they out-hit the Niners 7-5 while Hudson and Nichting accounted for two hits apiece pacing Charlotte.
Brock Hudgens (2-5) suffered the loss tossing five innings giving up the three runs on six hits fanning five. Micah Wells and Hunter May would combine for a one-hit shutout over the final four frames keeping the Niners within striking distance.
Charlotte will now have their second-straight midweek off before traveling to Louisiana Tech for the final Conference USA road series of the season. Friday night’s series-opener will begin at 7:00 p.m. with Saturday and Sunday contests to follow at 4:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. All three games can be heard live through http://www.charlotte49ers.com.