Behind seven strong innings from redshirt junior Andrew Smith (Matthews, N.C. / Butler HS), Charlotte won its tenth consecutive home game and improved to 5-0 this season with a 5-4 win over Missouri to begin a non-conference series Friday afternoon at Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium. Missouri is 1-3 to start the season.
The game was a nail-biter, with the lead changing hands four times. Charlotte registered 21 come-from-behind wins in 2010, this being the first of 2011.
Smith gave up a run in the first after leadoff hitter Brannon Champagne singled and stole second. He came around to score after a groundout and a sacrifice fly to center by shortstop Eric Garcia.
The 49ers answered in the third, putting up a pair of runs to take their first lead of the game. First baseman Kevin Gillespie (Bedford, Ind.) singled to start the inning and moved advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Center fielder Cory Tilton (Cary, N.C. / Green Hope HS) doubled, but Gillespie was held up at third. A single up the middle by left fielder Shane Brown (Davidson, N.C. / North Mecklenburg HS) scored the tying run and a fielder's choice by right fielder Justin Wilson (Canton, N.C. / Pisgah HS) pushed Tilton home for a 2-1 lead.
The Tigers retook the lead with three runs, including a pair of unearned scores on an error, to take a 4-2 lead. The 49ers then tied the game with a pair of runs in the sixth. With one out, third baseman Shane Basen (Waxhaw, N.C. / Marvin Ridge HS) and second baseman Corey Shaylor (Charlotte, N.C. / Independence HS) hit back-to-back singles. Gillespie scored Basen on a fielder's choice and Shaylor came in on Missouri's only error of the day.
The Niners took the lead with the final run of the day in the seventh. Wilson singled and stole second to lead off the inning. Basen drove in the game-winning RBI with a single to center.
Smith allowed seven hits and four runs, two of them earned, striking out six. He allowed one walk and hit a batter. He has won his first two starts of the season.
Charlotte closer Bryan Hamilton (Woodstock, Md. / Mount Saint Joseph HS) pitched a scoreless ninth for his first save of the season.
The loss went to Missouri reliever Phil McCormick (0-1). In an inning of work, he allowed the go-ahead run on a hit. He struck out three.
Basen, Gillespie and shortstop Justin Roland (Salisbury, N.C. / East Rowan HS) led Charlotte with two hits each. Champagne was the lone Tiger with two hits.
The two teams will play a doubleheader Saturday, starting at noon.
NOTES: Charlotte won the last five home games of 2010, including the final home weekend series against Saint Louis. Charlotte tied the school record by winning 17 straight home contests last season.