The Charlotte 49ers (1-0) defeated the West Virginia Mountaineers (0-1) in front of a sold-out crowd, 6-3, at Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium Friday night, as Jackson Mims and T.J. Nichting combined for six hits, three runs and two RBI. Colton Laws got the start for the 49ers, going six complete innings, giving up two runs on six hits, while striking out four batters on 83 pitches. Brandon Vogler (W, 1-0) received the win for Charlotte, throwing two innings in relief of four-hit, one-run ball and striking out three batters along the way.
West Virginia rattled Laws early in the first inning, but the 6-foot-8 right-handed pitcher out of Faith, North Carolina got back-to-back pop-outs in foul ground to get out of the jam.
After giving up a one-out hit in the second, Laws struck out Jimmy Galusky and Braden Zarbnisky of West Virginia to leave another Mountaineer stranded on base.
The one-two punch of Nichting and Mims made its presence known in the second inning, as the senior from Ohio led off the bottom half of the inning with a single up the middle. Mims recorded his first hit as a Niner with a double into left-center, as Nichting sprinted around the diamond to score the first run of the 2017 season.
After a couple 1-2-3 innings for both teams, Charlotte got back on the board when the duo of Nichting and Mims came back up to the plate, but this time, with two outs. Nichting singled to right field on an 0-2 pitch, then proceeded to steal second to get into scoring position for Mims. The transfer from East Carolina roped a ball by a diving Cole Austin at third base, scoring Nichting again to give the 49ers a 2-0 lead.
With the momentum in their favor heading into the fifth, Laws got two quick outs off the bats of TJ Lake and Galusky, but allowed Zarbnisky to reach after a well-placed bunt towards first base. After leading the team in homeruns a season ago with 10, Kyle Davis smacked his first of the season to left field, tying the game up at two.
Two innings later, Vogler took the ball from Laws on the mound for Charlotte, allowing a single to Galusky to left field, followed by a double to left-center off the bat of Zarbnisky, giving the Mountaineers a 3-2 lead. Vogler got out of the inning with a pop-out into foul ground and a ground-out from Darius Hill to send the sold-out crowd to their feet for the first seventh-inning stretch of the season.
After the stretch, it seemed as if BJ Myers (L, 0-1) would be fine on the mound if he didn’t face Nichting and Mims again. But to his luck, those two were due up next for the Niners. Nichting, right on cue, doubled to right-center to lead off the inning, followed by a single up the middle from Mims to put runners at the corners for Harris Yett, the starting catcher for Charlotte.
Yett reached on a fielder’s choice to the shortstop, scoring Nichting from third to tie the game, 3-3. That run caused a pitching change for Randy Mazey and West Virginia, bringing in Jackson Sigman. Drew Ober got his first at-bat of the season, grounding out to the shortstop but moved Yett to second base and in scoring position for Zach Jarrett.
After making an acrobatic catch over the fence in foul ground earlier in the game, Jarrett reached on an infield single, putting runners at the corners again for the Niners. Hunter Jones followed Jarrett’s infield hit with one of his own to the second baseman, scoring Yett from third and giving the 49ers a 4-3 advantage.
Charlotte didn’t settle for the one-run lead, as junior Brett Netzer brought in Jones and Jarrett with a single into right-center field, giving the Niners a three-run lead, 6-3.
The three-run lead proved to be all Charlotte needed to get the victory over the Mountaineers Friday night, as the Crowder College transfer Jonah Patten lit up the radar gun in the ninth, shutting down West Virginia to cap off Opening Day at The Hayes.
Charlotte will return to action against West Virginia Saturday at 1 p.m., as sophomore Josh Maciejewski will get the ball for the 49ers against Michael Grove of the Mountaineers.