Charlotte got on the board first when leadoff hitter Justin Wilson (Canton, N.C. / Pisgah HS) drove his fifth triple of the season to the right center field gap and scored by a sacrifice fly from the next batter, third baseman Shane Basen (Waxhaw, N.C. / Marvin Ridge HS) for a 1-0 lead. Charlotte is now 12-0 on the season when scoring at least one first-inning run this season.
Winthrop took its only lead of the game with two unearned runs in the bottom of the first. Centerfielder Cam Waters doubled to lead off the inning and second baseman Tyler Cook reach on a fielding error to put runners at first and second with nobody out. A walk then loaded the bases before starting pitcher Joe Yermal (Bel Air, Md. / McDonogh) induced a ground ball for a double play, tying the game when Walters came crossed the plate. Third baseman Chas Crane then singled to right for the RBI and a 2-1 Eagles lead.
That lead held for Winthrop starter Matt Pierpont until the fourth, when senior Cory Tilton (Cary, N.C. / Green Hope HS) doubled past the third baseman to leadoff that frame. He stole second and scored on an errant throw on the steal attempt to tie the game at two. His stolen base was his team and conference-leading 26th of the season. It also moved him into sixth all-time in Charlotte history with 68 career pilfers. After a walk and a caught stealing of Charlotte, first baseman Kevin Gillespie (Bedford, Ind.) hit the first of two singles in the game before the Rodriguez homer to left on the first pitch of his at bat to put Charlotte up 4-2.
Yermal retired the last two of the fourth and the next six batters before being lifted after the sixth.
The Eagles continued to apply pressure, with runners at the corners in the seventh and finally getting a run across on the eighth. A leadoff walk to shortstop Leighton Daniels proved costly as designated hitter Eddie Rohan was able to push an RBI single through the right side of the infield with two outs to cut the lead to one.
With one out and a runner at first on a single in the ninth, sophomore reliever Wes Hatley (Norwood, N.C. / South Stanly HS) came in and got a ground ball double play to end the game and collect his second save of the year.
Yermal got his fourth win of the season (4-1) by tossing six innings. He scattered four hits and two walks, striking out two. Both runs charged to him were unearned, dropping his season ERA to 1.87 in 33.2 innings in 2011. The team ERA, which was lowest in the country at the start of the week, dips to 2.09.
Pierpont took the loss (1-3). He allowed 10 hits in five innings, allowing all four runs. He walked two.
Tilton had three hits to lead all players, while Rodriguez' pair of RBI was the game-high total. Charlotte outhit Winthrop 10-7 in the contest, pushing the Niners record to 24-2 when collecting more hits than opponents this season.
The 49ers remain away from home with a conference weekend trip to Amherst to face Massachusetts, for a three-game series starting Friday afternoon at 3 p.m.
NOTES: Charlotte has not lost (24-0) when leading after eight innings this season... Yermal won his 22nd career game, fifth-most for a career at Charlotte... Wilson's triple was the 11th in his career, putting him in a tie with three other players for fifth in school history... Charlotte is 11-1 when scoring 3-5 runs this season and 30-2 when scoring more then two runs overall in 2011.