HIGH POINT, N.C. – Spencer Angelis (Orlando, Fla.) delivered a two-out, walk-off single to score Josh Greene (Ocala, Fla.) in the bottom of the 11th inning as High Point (1-3) spoiled the 2014 season-opener for Charlotte with a 4-3 victory on Tuesday afternoon. Two of the Panthers four runs would end up in the unearned column as the Niners committed four errors in the opener.
"It felt great to get on the field since we hadn't been able to get on the field in a week," said Coach Loren Hibbs. "We had to play some extra innings since we hadn't played this year. I thought both team competed even though it was a great game. We had a lot of guys that hadn't played at this level before. They aren't going to put an asterisk by side the loss, but we have to keep getting better."
Charlotte broke a scoreless tie in the top of the third as Des Roberts (Bellevue, Neb.) reached on a fielder’s choice that erased Eric Eason (Wilmington, N.C.) at second after he started the frame by reaching on a High Point fielding error by Derek McDermott (Park Ridge, N.J.) at second. Zach Jarrett (Hickory, N.C.) followed with his first collegiate hit lining a shot to center that deflected off of a diving Greene sending Roberts to third.
Preseason All-Conference USA selection Brad Elwood (Indian Trail, N.C.) started 2014 where he left off a season ago drilling a single down the right-field line to score Roberts with the Niners’ first run of the year.
High Point tied things up in their half of the fourth as a one-out walk by Cody Manzella (Windermere, Fla.) paid off two hitters later for the Panthers. Kyle Brandenburg (Greensboro, N.C.) would drive Manzella in with a base hit through the left side of the infield knotting the contest at one apiece. The go-ahead run for High Point would end up ninety feet away at third, but Charlotte reliever Justin Harris (Austin, Tex.) would retire McDemott on strikes to retire the side.
Senior Brock Hudgens (Jamestown, N.C.) started the season-opener for the 49ers tossing three scoreless frames scattering four hits with four strikeouts.
Charlotte grabbed the lead back in the top of the fifth using a four-hit frame started by Grant Dunnegan’s (Clearwater, Kan.) single to right. After a Roberts infield single to short, Jarrett would collect his third hit in as many at-bats lining a base hit to left, plating Dunnegan with the go-ahead run from third.
Jarrett was involved in the final out of the fifth as a non-traditional double play ended the frame. With the bases loaded and Jarrett at second, Logan Sherer (Matthews, N.C.) lifted a fly ball to left for the second out. As Roberts tagged from third, Manzella in left for High Point would throw behind Roberts to third as Jarrett was called out before Roberts touched the plate keeping it a 2-1, instead of 3-1, advantage for the Niners.
An inning later, High Point again put the tying run on the board as Tony Fortier-Bensen (Metairie, La.) started by reaching on a throwing error by Ellwood at short. Two batters later, pinch-hitter Blake Hutton (Orlando, Fla.) lined a double off the wall in right as Fortier-Bensen easily scored from second.
High Point would use an error, sacrifice and pair of wild pitches in the seventh to take a 3-2 lead. Greene led off by reaching on a Dunnegan miscue at first. After a sacrifice bunt from Josh Spano (Brandon, Fla.) pushed him to second, two wild pitches later in the inning led to Greene registering the go-ahead run.
Charlotte mounted a two-out rally in the eighth as Gallello was plunked in his opening at-bat before Dunnegan advanced him to third on an infield single to first. Pinch-hitter Mikal Hall (Charlotte, N.C.) promptly followed by lining a base hit to right-center, deflecting off the outstretched glove of McDermott at second.
Tied at three heading to the High Point ninth, the Panthers would have a golden opportunity to walk off with a win as McDermott led off by reaching on Charlotte’s third error of the day before Greene walked. Spano followed with a sacrifice bunt that sent McDermott as the winning run to third before Scherer, on in relief, struck out Angelis and induced a groundball from Gross to get out of the jam setting up free baseball.
Freshman Zach Jarrett (Hickory, N.C.) would have an impressive debut for Charlotte going 4-for-6 with a double, three singles and run driven in. Ellwood and Dunnegan would each pick up a pair of hits offensively as Charlotte did out-hit High Point 12-9. Both teams combined to use 13 pitchers (seven for Charlotte) and stranded a total of 23 runners on base.
Delayed by a week, Charlotte will open up its 2014 home slate at Hayes Stadium on Friday hosting Canisius for a three-game weekend set. First pitch in Friday’s opener is set for 4:00 p.m. with tickets available by logging on to http://www.charlotte49ers.com or by calling the 49ers ticket office at 704-687-4949.