Tony Montalbano (New Orleans, La. / Bossier Parish JC) became the fifth different player to record a walk-off hit when he drove a 1-1 pitch to the wall to score pinch runner J.J. Elseser (Brunswick, Ga.) from second as Charlotte won 4-3 in the ninth inning Friday night over George Washington to start and Atlantic 10 Conference baseball series at Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium. The win was the 20th for the 49ers, achieving the feat in the 200th home game at Hayes Stadium since the facility opened on March 31, 2007. Charlotte is 20-13, 4-3 in the A-10. The Colonials are 11-22, 5-5 in league play.
The win pushes Charlotte’s mark to 144-56 (0.722) in the home park in those 200 contests. Charlotte is 17-7 at home this season.
The 49ers scored a first-inning run after a two-out walk to senior third baseman Shane Basen (Waxhaw, N.C. / Marvin Ridge HS) turned into a run after the team-leading 14th double of the season from junior outfielder Justin Seager (Kannapolis, N.C. / Northwest Cabarrus HS) to drive in his 26th run of the season.
The Colonials bunted twice for singles in the top of the fifth, advancing on a groundout that kicked off of Charlotte starter Tyler Barnette’s (Hickory, N.C.) foot over to Basen, who relayed to first for the out to move the runners up. That was followed by a two-RBI single up the middle from right fielder Tyler McCarthy to give the Colonials a 2-1 lead.
A leadoff double by Montalbano was followed by a bunt single by senior center fielder Michael Green (Richmond, Va. / Thomas Dale HS) in the sixth. After a pair of strikeouts, sophomore second baseman Brad Elwood (Indian Trail, N.C. / Piedmont HS) drilled his first triple of the season out to right center to plate both runners and give Charlotte a 3-2 edge. The triple was the fourth of his career.
The Colonials got a single and a double to lead off the seventh, before a ground ball cut down the lead runner trying to score and a flyout ahead of McCarthy, who singled to left to tie the game at three.
Redshirt sophomore catcher Patrick Raley (Franklin, Tenn.) beat out an infield single and advanced to second on a wild pitch before Elseser was inserted to run for him in the inning ahead of Montalbano’s at bat to end the game.
Charlotte reliever Wes Hatley (Norwood, N.C. / South Stanly HS) got the win (1-1) in relief. He pitched the last one and a third innings, allowing one walk to lower his earned run average to 1.35 in 13.1 innings pitched.
The loss went to GW closer Craig Lejeune (2-2). He also tossed the final 1.2 innings, allowing two hits and a walk.
Barnette did not get a decision after 7.1 innings, his second-longest outing of the season by out, but the shortest of the season by pitches, throwing just 81. He allowed a season-high nine hits, with no walks and four strikeouts.
Elwood and Montalbano were the only players with three hits in the contest, with Montalbano’s total becoming a new season high in his 14th game of the season after an injury kept him out the first 19 games. McCarthy’s three RBI led all players, with Elwood’s pair leading the 49ers.
Four different 49ers scored a run in the game with GW’s Matthew Murakami scoring twice for the Colonials.
Charlotte and George Washington will continue the series Saturday at 2 p.m.
NOTES: Montalbano had his first two-double game of the season and second of his career... Charlotte had four extra-base hits, the fifth time they have had at least that many in a game this season… Raley had his third two-hit game of the season… Charlotte is batting .315 in the ninth inning, including three of the team’s 11 homers in that frame… Raley is a perfect 2-for-2 in the ninth… Montalbano has driven in a pair of ninth-inning runs this season and is one of four 49ers with multiple ninth-inning RBI... The win was the 13th for the bullpen this season.