CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Visiting Southern Miss used a pair of three-run innings to take game one 7-2 before Charlotte used eight innings of shutout ball by starter Ryan Butler in game two earning a Friday doubleheader split with an 8-0 win in the nightcap. The Niners improve to 19-30-1 overall, 10-18 in Conference USA play while the Golden Eagles advance to 31-23, 18-11.
GAME 1: SOUTHERN MISS 7, CHARLOTTE 2
Southern Miss didn’t waste any time but the Niners behind the eight ball with a three-run top of the first to start the day’s scoring. Connor Barron started with a leadoff walk and scored on Mason Robbins’ RBI triple down the right-field line. Matt Durst plated Robbins just moments later with his single to center before scoring himself on a Breck Kline base hit to left-center.
Mikal Hill would help the Niners get on the board in the second after his one-out single through the right side. After moving to both second and third on a pair of Golden Eagle wild pitches, Brett Lang would bring him in on his base knock to right cutting the deficit down to 3-1.
The Golden Eagles got the run back in the fifth on a Durst double to left. Niner left fielder Zach Jarrett nearly made a spectacular catch bouncing off the wall at full speed that jarred the ball loose allowing Robbins to score on the play. In the home half of the sixth, Charlotte would get it back to just a two-run deficit as Grant Dunnegan’s groundout out to third brought in Hill cutting the lead in half at 4-2 through six.
Southern Miss would deliver one more big blow to open up game one and provide the Golden Eagles with their five-run win in the opener. After Michael Sterling and Robbins began the frame with back-to-back singles before Durst sent a three-run blast to left-center for his sixth of the year.
Durst led the Golden Eagles going 3-for-5 in the opener with his five runs driven in. Robbins would also collect three hits while scoring three in front of Durst. Kline would also record a three-hit afternoon in the six spot as well. Conor Fisk (6-2) picked up the win for Southern Miss tossing seven innings allowing both Charlotte runs on six hits.
Jordan Hudson would pace the Niners with two of the Niners six hits in game one.
GAME 2: CHARLOTTE 8, SOUTHERN MISS 0
The Niners quickly turned the tables in game two putting a four-spot up in the second to take an early 4-0 advantage. Charlotte started the inning with four-straight hits thanks to Logan Sherer, Des Roberts, Hill and Jarrett with Jarrett picking up a pair of RBI. Two batters later, Patric King would pull a double down the left-field line to score both Hill and Jarrett for the four-run cushion.
Charlotte would add a pair of insurance runs in the sixth on Hill’s two-run bomb to left. After Roberts started the inning with a four-pitch walk, Hill would connect from the right side of the plate on a 2-0 fastball and hammer it to left extending the Niners lead out to a half-dozen.
In the eighth, the final pair of Niner runs would come across after Hill began with a leadoff walk. Hill scored three pitches later on Dunnegan’s second two-bagger of the game lining his hit into left-center field. Hudson would follow five pitches later driving home Dunnegan with Charlotte’s eighth and final run with a single to left.
Butler (5-7) would register the victory after tossing eight-plus innings, facing two hitters in the ninth, allowing six hits with four strikeouts. After Southern Miss put the first two runners aboard to chase Butler, sophomore Micah Wells came in to record a strikeout and end the contest on a 3-6-1 double play.
“He was good and I thought King did a great job with Butler catching him for the first time,” remarked Head Coach Loren Hibbs. “Butler’s got a chance to be a draft guy. Whether he comes back to school or not we don’t know, but if that was his last outing here we’re really proud of him and the way he’s matured throwing better as the year’s gone on.”
Hill, Jarrett and Dunnegan each led the Niners with a pair of hits in game two. Hill and Jarrett, along with King, would each post two RBI in the tenth league win of the year for the Niners.
The final game of the series and final ballgame of 2014 for the Niners will take place at 11:00 a.m. late Saturday morning. Charlotte will send RHP Brock Hudgens (3-5, 3.27) to the mound on his senior day after a pregame ceremony to honor him and seven others playing in the final game with a Charlotte uniform on. Southern Miss will counter with RHP Christian Talley (4-4, 2.44) in their final regular season game before they host next weekend’s Conference USA tournament.
Live stats/video links for Saturday’s contest are available through http://www.charlotte49ers.com. Live, in-game updates will also be provided on Twitter by following @NinerBaseball, @49erGameDay and @Charlotte49ers.