Sophomore first baseman Justin Seager (Kannapolis, N.C. / Northwest Cabarrus HS) drove in the go-ahead run in the sixth and two more scored after his at bat on an error in the eighth as Charlotte won a weekend series over Toledo in a 3-2 Sunday final at Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium. The 49ers improve to 5-2 on the season, dropping the Rockets to 3-3. Charlotte has trailed in four of the five games in which it has won.
After the teams split the first two games, the Sunday win gives Charlotte 19 consecutive home series wins lasting three or more games, going all the way back to the 2009 season. The 49ers are 33-3 in series of three or more games since the stadium opened on March 31, 2007.
Charlotte starter Tyler Barnette (Hickory, N.C. / Hickory HS) had to leave the game with two outs in the second inning. The sophomore allowed a walk and hit and left due to a blister on his pitching hand.
Senior reliever Chad Rothlin (Hickory, N.C. / Fred T. Foard HS) was then pressed into service and was unhittable, striking out a career-high seven over the next 4.2 innings, allowing just two walks.
Charlotte was able to get base runners against Toledo starter Jared Locke, who walked three in the first two innings. The 49ers left runners at second and third in the first two innings, a runner at third in the third and fourth innings, and another at first in the fifth.
The 49ers finally broke the scoreless tie in the sixth. Junior Tony Montalbano (New Orleans, La.) singled to left center to start the inning and catcher Ross Steedley (Granite Quarry, N.C. / East Rowan HS) dropped down a bunt that was mishandled to put runners at first and second. Freshman second baseman Derek Gallello (Fredericksburg, Va. / Riverbend HS) sacrificed the runners up a base before an RBI groundout from first baseman Justin Seager (Kannapolis, N.C. / Northwest Cabarrus HS) scored the game's first run.
Toledo had just one hit until a one-out single in the eighth on reliever Wes Hatley (Norwood, N.C. / South Stanly HS), who struck out the first hitter he faced with two outs in the seventh. The Rockets turned their fortunes around and took their sixth lead of the series with a two-out home run to left on an 0-2 count from third baseman Joe Corfman. Toledo scratched just three hits in the game against five Charlotte pitchers. Seven of the eight runs scored on Saturday and Sunday for Toledo came on four home runs.
In the bottom of the eighth, Montalbano dropped a one-out single down the left field line and Gallello singled to left center with two outs, advancing on the throw trying to catch Montalbano going to third for runners at second and third and two outs before Seager's hit ball that bounded off the glove of the third baseman to score the tying and go-ahead runs.
Junior closer John Hamilton (Strongsville, Ohio / Strongsville HS) finished the top of the eighth and closed out the ninth to receive his first win of the season (1-0), after getting his third save of the year in Friday night's win. He retired all four batters he faced, logging one strikeout. The 49ers have won all four games in which he has pitched, with three saves and the Sunday victory to his season ledger.
Montalbano and outfielder J. J. Elseser (Brunswick, Ga. / Brunswick HS) led all players in the game with two hits each. Corfman's pair of RBI proved the game-high total.
Locke took the loss without allowing an earned run (0-2). He gave up six hits and three walks in 7.2 innings, striking out five.
The 49ers will play their second road contest of the season Tuesday afternoon at Winthrop, with the first pitch slated for 4 p.m. in Rock Hill, S.C.
NOTES: Charlotte's last home series loss came on March 22, 2009, dropping the final game of the Fordham series... Charlotte is 120-32 at home since the park opened (78.9%)... The 49ers pitchers tied their season high with nine strikeouts, which they established against Toledo on Friday... The seven strikeouts for Rothlin was one shy of Andrew Smith's eight on Friday, which was the season high total for a Charlotte pitcher... The 49ers struck out 25 batters in the three-game series... Charlotte lowered its team earned run average to 2.71 after the contest... Opponents are batting .199 against Charlotte pitching through seven games... Elseser took over the team lead for batting average, posting a .429 average after the first two weeks of play.