Senior catcher Zane Williams (Claremore, Okla.) hit a two-run homer to left center in driving rains in the bottom of the eighth to complete a late comeback win as the Charlotte 49ers defeated the Wake Forest Demon Deacons 6-4 Tuesday night at Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium. Charlotte has now won 16 straight home games, one shy of tying the school record, and is 26-8 overall this season, winners of five straight contests. Wake Forest is now 10-29, with a 1-16 road mark.
Williams had the game-winning RBI in both home wins over Atlantic Coast Conference opponents, as his bases-clearing double in the eighth gave Charlotte the 11-10 victory over then-No. 7 Clemson back on March 16.
The 49ers jumped on the board in the first inning after Cory Tilton (Cary, N.C. / Green Hops HS) drew a leadoff walk and later scored on an RBI single by second baseman Corey Shaylor (Charlotte, N.C. / Independence HS). Shaylor has a six-game hit streak and has driven in 12 runs in that span. Monday, he was named the Atlantic 10 Conference Baseball Player of the Week.
Charlotte added a second run in the third. Outfielder Justin Wilson (Canton, N.C. / Pisgah HS) singled to leadoff the inning. He stole second and later came around to score on an RBI single by designated hitter Mike Perkins (Skaneateles, N.Y.) for the 2-0 lead.
The Niners put up a third run in the bottom of the fourth inning. Outfielder Shane Brown (Davidson, N.C. / North Mecklenburg HS) singled to lead off the inning, followed by a single by shortstop Justin Roland (Salisbury, N.C. / East Rowan HS), to move Brown to third. Tilton then brought him home with a sacrifice fly to left for the score.
The Demon Deacons put up two runs in the top of the fifth to close the gap to a run. Outfielder Mac Williamson hit a leadoff double to center and first baseman Matt Conway walked. Both runners stole a base on a strikeout and Williamson scored on an RBI groundout by designated hitter Ryan Lloyd. With two outs, third baseman Shane Kroker hit an infield single as the rain started up for the second run of the frame.
Wake took the lead with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth. Outfielders Ryan Semeniuk and Steven Brooks hit back-to-back singles to start the inning and they both moved up a base on a double steal. Catcher Mike Murray hit a sacrifice fly for the first run and Williamson hit an RBI groundout the opposite way to score the go-ahead run.
A leadoff walk to Kevin Gillespie (Bedford, Ind. / Bedford North Lawrence) started the eighth inning. The game was tied on an RBI double down the left field line by first baseman Ryan Rivers (Baltimore, Md. / Eastern Technical HS), scoring Gillespie from first. After a strikeout, Williams took a 1-0 pitch high over the fence in left center to give Charlotte the two-run lead with his eighth homer of the season.
Charlotte senior closer Patrick Lawson (Hilton Head, S.C.) got the win (2-0), as he came in with one out in of the top of the eighth. He gave up a hit and a walk in the ninth, but struck out two in an inning and two thirds. Lawson has retired 38 of his last 47 batters, and has allowed just one run in his last 13.2 innings pitched. The win is the 14th for the bullpen this season in Charlotte's 17th comeback victory of 2010.
Wake starter Michael Dimock took the loss despite a good outing (1-7). He held Charlotte to three runs through seven innings, but both baserunners he handed off to the bullpen came in to score, giving him five earned runs on nine hits and two walks. He struck out five.
Charlotte starter Wes Hatley (Norwood, N.C. / South Stanly HS) got a no-decision in his first career start. He pitched a career-long five innings, scattering three hits and a walk, with a career-high seven strikeouts.
Brown finished with a game-high three hits for Charlotte. Williams' two RBI were the game high. Williamson had a team-best two hits for Wake, which had eight hits in the game.
Charlotte hosts North Carolina Central Wednesday night at 6 p.m. for a chance to tie the school record for consecutive home wins, set across the 2007-2008 seasons. Freshman Sean Pope (Huntersville, N.C. / North Mecklenburg HS) will start (1-0, 9.00 ERA, 3 K, 4 BB) for Charlotte opposite NCCU junior Jeff Citero (0-4, 9.19 ERA, 9 K, 16 BB).
NOTES: Charlotte is outscoring opponents 54-22 in the eighth inning this season overall (48-17 in 26 home games)... The Niners have scored five or more runs in 23 of 26 home games this season, with a 22-1 home mark when scoring at least five... Charlotte is averaging 10.9 runs per home game this season... Charlotte has not lost a game when leading or trailing after eight innings this season (25-0)... Charlotte is now 5-2 when hitting one home run... The Niners are tied with Georgia Tech for the third-longest active home winning streak in the country... The Niners' .765 winning percentage puts them in the Top 20 in the nation... Charlotte is receiving votes in the latest National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll, the sixth-straight year that the team has received votes in a national poll.