Redshirt senior Shane Brown (Davidson, N.C. / North Mecklenburg HS) drove in the tying run in the fourth and scored another tying run in the bottom of the ninth, but a tenth-inning solo homer from Ben Hammer was the game-winning run in a 6-5 Toledo win at Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium Saturday afternoon. The win gives the Rockets a 3-2 record, handing Charlotte its first home loss of the season, to a record of 4-2.
Charlotte spent the entire game coming back from the four first-inning Toledo runs, on a three-run homer from first baseman Mark Lapikas and a solo shot from shortstop Dan Zuchowski, both out to right field off of Charlotte starter Corey Roberts (Charlotte, N.C. / Olympic HS).
Roberts settled in to allow just four baserunners over the next five innings and allowed his offense to climb back in the contest.
Brown scored the first of his game-high three runs in the first. He singled on an infield chopper to third and moved to second on a throwing error before stealing third. He came home on an RBI groundout from third baseman Shane Basen (Waxhaw, N.C. / Marvin Ridge HS).
Three consecutive singles to start the third from shortstop Justin Roland (Salisbury, N.C. / East Rowan HS), Brown and Basen loaded the bases without an out in the frame. A wild pitch from Toledo starter Alex Radon scored one run and, a walk and a popout later, an RBI groundout from freshman second baseman Derek Gallello (Fredericksburg, Va. / Riverbend HS) drove in Basen to get the 49ers to within a run a 4-3.
The first tying run from Charlotte came in the bottom of the fourth, when leadoff batter and senior catcher Miguel Rodriguez (Cape Coral, Fla. / Cape Coral HS) reached on a two-base infield throwing error and moved up to third on a pinch-hit sacrifice bunt from junior J.J. Elseser (Brunswick, Ga. / Brunswick HS). Brown's third hit of the day plated Rodriguez for a four-all score.
The Rockets tagged Roberts for a fifth run in the top of the sixth. A one-out walk to Zuchowski proved costly, as he scored all the way from first on a double down the third base line in the very next at bat from catcher James Miglin to give the Rockets their second lead of the day.
Charlotte had baserunners in every inning, but could not score them in innings five through eight. Charlotte had runners at second and third with nobody out in the eighth, but could not capitalize as reliever Matt Kuna came in and got a flyout and a double play on a flyout and baserunning error from the Niners.
Charlotte senior relief pitcher Tyler Pilkington (Waxhaw, N.C. / Weddington HS) came in for Roberts to start the seventh and faced the minimum in innings seven, eight and nine, allowing the offense another crack at tying the game.
Brown walked to start the ninth, moving into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt from Basen. Brown got to third on a wild pitch and scored an unearned run against Kuna on a passed ball to force the extra inning.
Pilkington got two outs in the ninth before Hammer delivered the eventual game-winner to right on the first pitch of his at bat.
Charlotte could not get a runner on in the tenth in the loss.
Brown finished with the game-high of three runs to go with his three hits, tied with Toledo's Joe Corfman for game-high honors. Brown stole two more bases after pilfering three yesterday to post six total for the season, which leads the Atlantic 10 Conference at this early stage of the season.
Pilkington took the loss, tossing 3.2 innings, with four strikeouts. Roberts lasted six innings, with two strikeouts and two walks to go with seven hits allowed.
The series finale will take place at noon on Sunday. Charlotte sophomore Tyler Barnette (Hickory, N.C. / Hickory HS) is scheduled to start opposite junior Jared Locke.
NOTES: Brown has five runs and five stolen bases to go with six runs scored in the series... Five of Toledo's six runs scored on home runs... The last time Charlotte allowed three home runs in a game was at home to Western Carolina on 2/23/10... Charlotte is now 119-32 in Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium... Charlotte retired the #31 of Adam Mills in a pregame ceremony Saturday... Mills is Charlotte's all-time wins leader and led the nation in ERA (1.01) and tied the national lead for wins (14) in 2007.