CHARLOTTE, N.C. – With 13 teams and an even 30-game Conference USA schedule against 10 opponents, the Charlotte 49ers baseball team will experience their “off” week from league play this weekend hosting Evansville for a four-game series beginning with a Friday doubleheader. Game one Friday will start at 2:00 p.m. followed by the nightcap starting no earlier than 6:00 p.m. due to postgame fireworks. Saturday’s contest will begin at 2:00 p.m. with the series-finale Sunday kicking off at 1:00 p.m.
Charlotte (7-18-1) will look to get above the .500 mark for the first time this season against Evansville coming off of a 6-2 win over USC Upstate on Tuesday night. T.J. Nichting led the Niners with a 4-for-5 performance finishing a homer shy of the cycle as Charlotte cranked out 14 hits in the win.
“I thought the weather was fantastic for a change and thought we got a lot of good things done,” commented Head Coach Loren Hibbs in his weekend preview. “I thought we play ok defense, swung the bats alright, it’s good to play an average game and still win. That didn’t happen much earlier in the year.”
Nichting, along with Mikal Hill, started the first inning with back-to-back singles before Derek Gallello drove home Hill later in the frame with a groundout to second. The Niners took advantage of two leadoff singles again in the fourth this time by Brett Lang and Jordan Hudson. Brad Elwood sacrificed both over to third before Hill struck again crushing a double off the top of the wall in right pushing the lead out to three. Nichting would pick up his own two-bagger moments later scoring Hill for a 4-0 lead.
After USC Upstate scored their only pair of runs in their fifth, Des Roberts and Gallello would each drive in the final two Niner runs in the fifth and seventh as Roberts plated Gallello with a sacrifice fly while Hudson drove in Roberts with a base knock to left.
Behind Nichting’s four hits, Hill, Lang, Hudson and Elwood would each collect a pair during the 6-2 victory. Micah Wells (1-0) registered his first win in relief by tossing two innings allowing one hit with three strikeouts. In 6.1 innings of work, Wells has kept opponents scoreless scattering three hits with four strikeouts over five appearances.
After the one mid-week game, Mikal Hill has raised his average to a team-best .304, four points better than Logan Sherer’s .300. Charlotte’s team average is up to .251 entering the weekend after posting 29 hits over their last two games.
Evansville (16-10) will enter the weekend splitting a pair of non-conference games mid-week picking up a 15-7 win at home over SIU Edwardsville before falling Wednesday night at Belmont 12-7. Like Charlotte, the Purple Aces also start the weekend having won four of their last six.
Josh Jyawook leads the way on offense with a .374 average starting in all 26 games. The Purple Aces hit .284 as a team, but see the opponents hit three points better at .287. The Evansville pitching staff has a 4.11 ERA while the Niners stand a 4.08.
“We’re grateful to them that they’re willing to come down here and play a doubleheader of Friday and single games Saturday and Sunday,” continued Hibbs. “They’re always competitive and always well-coached. We’re trying to continually challenge our guys by playing high level competition and enlightening them to what top-25 division one baseball is all about.”
Out of Evansville, Indiana, this weekend will mark the first-ever matchups between the two schools in baseball.
PARKING ALERT FOR SATURDAY:
Due to the Charlotte 49ers spring football game at 12:00 p.m. Saturday, fans should plan to arrive early to Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium as vehicle and pedestrian traffic will be heavy on campus. Parking is free and baseball fans will want to park in either the CRI Deck or Union Deck.
To access the CRI Deck, enter campus from Hwy. 29 at JW Clay Blvd. Additionally fans may park in the Black Union Deck & Lots. To access the Union Deck enter from Mallard Creek Church Road Mary Alexander Road. If those areas are full, please proceed to the next available lot.
For more parking information and a map, please visit HERE.
CHARLOTTE/EVANSVILLE WEEKEND ROTATION:
Friday (G1 – 2pm): RHP Corey Roberts (0-3, 4.71) vs. LHP Kyle Freeland (4-1, 2.03)
Friday (G2 – 6pm): RHP Brandon Vogler (1-0, 0.69) vs. RHP Connor Strain (1-2, 3.13)
Saturday (2pm): RHP Ryan Butler (1-4, 3.68) vs. LHP Cole Isom (2-2, 3.73)
Sunday (1pm): RHP Brock Hudgens (0-3, 4.28) vs. RHP Matt Rodgers (3-0, 5.11)