In a pregame ceremony Saturday, Charlotte will honor the 1993 baseball team, the 20th anniversary of the first squad to win a conference baseball tournament and make the postseason in the program’s history. Members of the team and coaching staff will be on hand to celebrate the season for game two of the Butler series, with first pitch at 2 p.m. The team will be honored approximately 15 minutes prior to the start of the contest.
In current head coach Loren Hibbs’ first season at Charlotte, the 1993 season was an up and down campaign. The 22-player squad, which had just two senior starters and only eight pitchers, finished 21-29 at the end of the regular season. From the start of April, the Niners finished the season with a four-game losing skid before a run of five wins in seven games before another four-game losing skid ahead of winning four games in a six-game span but finished the season by dropping their last five games heading into the Metro Conference Tournament in Richmond at VCU.
Behind a complete-game effort from Tim Collie, the Niners beat Tulane and pitcher Mike Romano, who Charlotte did not score against in 14 innings earlier in the season to start the tournament. Charlotte then took down the Metro regular-season champ South Florida to get into a game of unbeaten teams with the host Rams. After falling 11-4 to VCU, Charlotte got down 2-0 in the first inning in an elimination game to Southern Miss, but rallied for an 11-2 result to get to the finals in a rematch with VCU, which it had to beat twice. Charlotte pitched on fumes for 7-3 and 13-6 wins, with a complete-game victory from Jeff Myers in game one and the only complete-game effort of the season from Mike Lovelace for the championship. South Florida, Southern Miss and Tulane had all swept Charlotte during the regular season.
For the tournament, Charlotte hit nearly 75 points higher than it did versus conference competition in the regular season. The pitching staff also shaved its earned run average by almost three full runs from the regular season numbers.
The result of the improbable finish from the fifth-seeded Niners was a trip to the NCAA Mideast Regional in Knoxville, Tenn. It tied the league record for the lowest-seeded team ever to win the Metro Tournament and it was the first time in league history that a first-year head coach took his team to the championship.
Charlotte has since been to four more NCAA Regionals, including the program’s first at-large berth in 1998, and three more automatic bids, in 2007, 2008 and the most recent in 2011. The Niners won their first postseason game in 2007, winning their most recent coming in 2011.