Redshirt senior pitcher Joe Yermal (Bel Air, Md. / McDonogh HS) lasted 5.2 strong innings to get his 29th career win, tying him with former Niner Tim Collie for second on the all-time wins list at Charlotte as the 49ers evened the Atlantic 10 Conference weekend baseball series with Saint Joseph's 7-2 Saturday at Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium. Yermal struck out a season-high five batters and lowered his season earned run average to 3.17 with the win.
The 49ers staked Yermal to a quick lead by putting up four runs in the first, the third time they have scored as many in the opening frame this season. Shortstop Justin Roland (Salisbury, N.C. / East Rowan HS) extended his conference-leading hit streak to 14 games with a leadoff single to start the inning. SJU walked outfielder Leland Clemmons (Chesapeake, Va. / Portsmouth Christian HS) and a bunt single from outfielder Shane Brown (Davidson, N.C. / North Mecklenburg HS) plus a defensive error scored two runs. A pair of sacrifices plated two more for Charlotte before a single and a two-base error put first baseman Corbin Shive (Salisbury, N.C. / East Rowan HS) at third with two outs, allowing second baseman Derek Gallello (Fredericksburg, Va. / Riverbend HS) to drive him in with a single out to left for the 4-0 lead.
Clemmons' walk put him on base for the 18th time in his last 21 plate appearances.
The Hawks got a pair of runs back in the top of the third with a two run homer from outfielder Greg Kumpel, his second of the season and the first against Yermal in his first 46 innings pitched this season.
The Niners responded with two in the third. Brown dropped a leadoff single into center, giving him nine hits in his last 10 plate appearances over his last four games. He stole second for his conference-leading 27th of the year, advanced to third on a flyout and scored on a single to left by designated hitter Tony Montalbano (New Orleans, La.). The RBI was Montalbano's second of the day and fourth in the series, though his first hit of the series, recording a pair of RBI sacrifice flies and an RBI groundout to that point. Montalbano later scored on an RBI groundout by Gallello for the 6-2 lead.
Both starting pitchers at that point locked down the game. SJU's Alex Pracher allowed just one hit from innings four through seven and Yermal gave up a hit in each of the middle three innings, but no runs could score on him in that time.
The 49ers tacked on a run on a throwing error in the eighth against reliever Kevin Burum for the final score of the contest.
Reliever Brock Hudgens (Jamestown, N.C. / Southwest Guilford HS) earned his first save of the season by pitching the final 3.1 innings without allowing a Saint Joseph's hit. He struck out two and walked one. It was this third save of his career.
Pracher took the loss, falling to 3-6 on the season. He tossed seven innings, allowing eight hits and six runs, five of them earned. He struck out four and walked one.
Shive led all players with three hits. He has reached safely in his last 22 contests, the season-high mark for the team. Montalbano and Gallello tied for the game high, along with SJU's Kumpel, with a pair of RBI. Gallello's RBI total tied his career high, which he has logged four times this season.
Charlotte and Saint Joseph's play the series-clinching game on Sunday at noon.
NOTES: Yermal made his 50th career start, one shy of the school record shared by Ryan Baker and Adam Mills... Yermal needs three more wins to tie Mills, Charlotte's all-time leader, with 32... He is also ranked in the Top 10 in Niners history in fewest walks per nine innings (2.30, 6th), innings pitched (293.2, 7th) and ERA (3.62, 10th)... Brown is 6-for-9 in the series, with three runs scored... Brown has an active seven-game hit streak, batting .464 in that span, and has reached base safely in his last 13 contests... Roland leads the 49ers with a .380 batting average and six stolen bases in 14 conference games... Charlotte has 11 saves in its 17 wins, tied for the most saves in the A-10... Hudgens becomes the fifth player on the team this season with a save... He is the only 49er with more strikeouts than innings pitched this season (25 Ks in 17 IP)... Charlotte is 5-3 when scoring exactly seven runs this season, losing 8-7 Friday night to SJU... THe 49ers are 10-0 when holding the opponent to two or fewer runs this season.