Charlotte baseball concludes its three-week, 13-game home stand with a four-game weekend series against the Siena Saints at Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium. The series, the final weekend before Atlantic 10 Conference play commences, will begin Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. That start time is to accommodate the players and coaches for the noon doubleheader on Saturday. Sunday's start remains at noon.
Charlotte has dropped three in a row, and sits at 10-5 for the season. The 49ers started the season winning nine straight at home. The 49ers are 6-3 all-time against Siena, with all nine contests taking place in the Queen City. The last time Siena came down was 2006, making this the first stop for Siena at Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium. The 49ers batted .251 as a team in the last five games, though they have allowed just a .202 average in that span.
Sophomore Brad Elwood (Indian Trail, N.C. / Piedmont HS) has hit safely in all 15 games for Charlotte this season and carried over the last game of 2012 to sport a career-long 16-game hit streak. He is batting .400 (8-for-20) in the last five games and leads the 49ers with a .297 (23-for-58) batting average. He is third with eight walks this season and has struck out only one time this season. If he starts all four games, redshirt senior shortstop Justin Roland (Salisbury, N.C. / East Rowan HS) will become the ninth player in team history to start 200 contests. He has played 198 games for Charlotte, starting 196. He has started the last 130 games that Charlotte has played, dating back to 2010. Barring injury or demotion, he will become the school's all-time leader in games started in mid-April, and should top the list of games played for a career at Charlotte in early May.
Charlotte has sold out the last three games as the weather has turned more spring-like in the past week. High temperatures for the weekend are expected to be above 60 and even 70 degrees all weekend for the first time during the baseball season.
The Saints won one game of three last weekend at Charleston Southern, entering the weekend at 3-9 on the season. Siena has played in Orlando, twice in Virginia and the trip to Palmetto State in the first four weekends of the season.
Charlotte junior Tyler Barnette (Hickory, N.C.) will start Friday's series-opener against sophomore lefty Matt Gage. Barnette has a 2-0 mark this season with a 2.92 earned run average and leads the team with 23 strikeouts and 24.2 innings pitched. He has allowed exactly two earned runs in four starts this season and has pitched past the 100-pitch mark in each of his least three starts. Gage is 2-2 to this point, with an ERA of 5.32, with 16 strikeouts and 10 walks.
Saturday's doubleheader will start with senior left hander John Hamilton (Strongsville, Ohio) going for Charlotte against Saints senior righty Justin Brantley. The former closer for the 49ers, Hamilton has three starts longer than any previous appearance in Niner green. Hamilton's 1.66 ERA leads the squad and he is second in opponent batting average at .198 in four starts. His 1-2 record with four earned runs allowed is partially a product of poor run support. Hamilton gave up just two runs to Kent State in seven innings last weekend in a 2-1 loss to the Golden Flashes. He also held 10th-ranked North Carolina State to one earned run in 6.2 innings in his first appearance of the season, but the Niners could not score any runs. At the moment he has left his four games, the combined score has been 5-4 in the opponent's favor. Brantley is 1-3, with an ERA of 8.41. He has struck out 15 and walked 10 this season.
Charlotte has not declared a starter for the second game of the doubleheader. Siena will start freshman right hander Bryan Goosens. He is 0-2, with a team-best 1.62 ERA. In 16.2 innings, he has struck out eight and walked one.
Sunday, Charlotte will start junior lefty Jason Harris (Austin, Tex. / Barton County CC). Harris got the loss Tuesday against Virginia Tech for his only decision of the year. He holds a 2.92 ERA, with nine strikeouts and six walks. Siena has not declared a start for Sunday.
Fans should be alerted that parking will be at a premium Friday and Saturday, with track and field hosting a meet this weekend. Fans should be prepared to use the Cone, Union and CRI decks as alternatives to Lot 23, which could be full by normal baseball parking times over the first two days of the series.
Tickets are available by contacting the 49ers Ticket Office at 704-687-4949.
Charlotte will play its next five games on the road, starting next Wednesday.