Despite holding leads in both games, Charlotte fell in a doubleheader at Georgia Tech Sunday afternoon by final scores of 6-3 in regulation and 6-5 in 11 innings at Russ Chandler Field in Atlanta. The twinbill sweep moved Georgia Tech record to 29-19 after capturing all three games in the series, with Charlotte slipping to 20-26. The 49ers have lost three in a row after winning three straight the previous weekend.
The 49ers scored in the first inning for an early lead, but the Yellow Jackets posted a pair of runs in the third and fifth innings to take a 4-1 margin. The run in the opening frame came after a one-out double from freshman outfielder Leland Clemmons (Chesapeake, Va. / Portsmouth Christian HS), a single from designated hitter Shane Brown (Davidson, N.C. / North Mecklenburg HS) and an RBI sacrifice bunt from third baseman Shane Basen (Waxhaw, N.C. / Marvin Ridge HS) for the lead.
GT first baseman Daniel Palka drove in a pair of runs for the lead on a double in the third, adding another run on a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning.
The 49ers were able to pull back within a run with a two-run homer to left from right fielder Corbin Shive (Salisbury, N.C. / East Rowan HS), his team-leading sixth of the season.
Tech scored two insurance runs in the seventh, one on a balk and the other on a double from catcher Zane Evans for the game's final runs.
Both starters got decisions. Jake Davies earned a win after allowing one run on four hits and two walks in 4.2 innings after the coaching declared him coming out early. He tossed just 56 pitches in that span. Reliever Alex Cruz finished the game from that point, earning his first save of the season.
Charlotte starter Joe Yermal (Bel Air, Md. / McDonogh HS) took the loss (6-4) after 4.1 innings, giving up four runs on seven hits, with two walks and three strikeouts. He broke Charlotte's school record for career starts, now at 52.
The 49ers played from behind the entire game after the Yellow Jackets scored a run in the first and third, both RBI coming on the bat of Davies, who played first in the second game. He hit a sacrifice fly in the opening frame and a solo home run in the third for the 3-0 lead.
Charlotte pulled to within a run in the fifth after senior catcher Ross Steedley (Granite Quarry, N.C. / East Rowan HS) hit a single to right to leadoff the inning. He eventually scored on the first sacrifice fly from Clemmons for his career. Steedley again scored after a leadoff double in the seventh, scoring on another sacrifice, this time from Roland to tie the game at two.
Davies stuck again in the bottom of the seventh, with an RBI single through the left side to give Georgia Tech a 3-2 lead. Tech added a fourth run in the eighth, after a double and two singles, but relief pitcher Wes Hatley (Norwood, N.C. / South Stanly HS) came in and induced a ground ball for a double play to stop the scoring in a key spot.
Charlotte was able to score two in the ninth to for extra innings. Steedley started the inning with his third hit of the day in his first game back from injury since April 8, followed by the third hit of the day from freshman second baseman Derek Gallello (Fredericksburg, Va. / Riverbend HS). Roland hit another single to bring in Steedley's pinch runner J.J. Elseser (Brunswick, Ga. / Brunswick HS) for the one-run margin and Gallello scored on a one-out sacrifice fly from Basen to tie the game at four.
Charlotte got the leadoff runner on in the tenth after a walk to Shive. The first hit of the day from outfielder Tony Montalbano (New Orleans, La.) was a double down the left field line to put runners at second and third with nobody out. Gallello lifted a sacrifice fly to center with one out to give Charlotte the first lead of the day at 5-4.
Charlotte struck out the first batter of the tenth before three walks, the last one intentional after a double steal, loaded the bases. Second baseman Thomas Smith hit a sacrifice fly to center, but Charlotte pitching got another strikeout to end the frame for an 11th inning.
Clemmons walked to lead off the 11th, but he was left at third and Palka came through with a single down the right field line with two outs and runners at the corners to win the game.
Both starters went six innings, but did not factor in the decision. Tech's Cole Pitts allowed seve hits and a walk for his earned run and Charlotte's Tyler Barnette (Hickory, N.C. / Hickory HS) gave up six hits and three walks for two earned runs. Barnette struck out three in the contest.
The win went to reliever Josh Heddinger (2-4), who tossed a scoreless 11th, with one walk and one strikeout.
Charlotte reliever Tyler Pilkington (Waxhaw, N.C. / Weddington HS) took the loss (0-4) after two-thirds of an inning, allowing two hits, with one strikeout.
Both teams finished with 13 hits. Charlotte left 12 on base in the nightcap, with GT stranding 11 in the exciting game.
Roland and Shive had four hits each in the three-game series to lead the team. They had two RBI each, as did Basen for the weekend.
The 49ers will take exams and work in practice this week before hosting league-leading Saint Louis next weekend at Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium. Ninth-place Charlotte and the Billikens are separated by just four games in the bunched-together league standings. Friday night's series-opener starts at 6 p.m.
NOTES: In Sunday's doubleheader, Shive, Roland and Brown extended their streaks of reaching base to 30, 22 and 20 games, respectively... Brown had his 13-game hit streak snapped in game two... The three hit game was Steedley's first of the season (one short of his season high) and Gallello's second of the year.