The Charlotte 49ers (22-29, 11-16 C-USA) watched their one-run lead in the ninth deteriorate after the UAB Blazers (20-33, 11-17 C-USA) used some small-ball to manufacture two runs, keeping their playoff hopes alive and hurting Charlotte’s after a 2-1 Blazer win Thursday night.
Josh Maciejewski (ND,5-6) kept his late-season dominance going on the mound, throwing 7.2 innings, allowing only six hits, and striking out five en route to shutting out the Blazers while on the mound.
Thomas Lowery pitched great in his second start of the season for the Blazers, holding the 49ers’ damage to just one run, giving up six hits and striking out six Charlotte batters. From one natural reliever to another, UAB kept themselves in the game behind a strong performance from Garrett Whitlock (W,4-5), only surrendering one hit and zero runs.
Both the Blazers and the 49ers scattered out their hits throughout the entire game, struggling to string together back-to-back hits. In the fifth, Derek Gallello (3) struck one of the two hits in the inning over the right field wall, proving to be the only run for Charlotte all night.
Philip Perry (L,1-1) toed the rubber for the 49ers in relief of Maciejewski, getting his first batter to pop-out to shortstop for the final out in the eighth. Perry came back out for the ninth, giving up back-to-back hits while only recording one out.
With runners at second and third, Matt Horkey got the call out of the bullpen, getting a groundball to second base, but with the infield playing back, the Blazers tied up the game in the ninth.
The next batter for UAB, Adam Smith, placed a perfect bunt down the third base line, scoring the go-ahead run from third, while also reaching base safely at first.
The 49ers got Hunter Jones on base in the bottom of the ninth after a funky play at first, but failed to move him around to give Charlotte any chance of tying the ballgame in the ninth.
Although the 49ers did not win, Charlotte got help from FAU’s win over WKU Thursday night, now just needing to win one game to clinch a spot in the Conference USA tournament next week.
The second game of the series is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. Friday afternoon, but is schedule to be changed due to impending weather.