T.J. Niching on his way to third. Photo by Chris Crews

The Charlotte 49ers travelled down to Miami for a series with the Panthers of Florida International University, and the team will return home victorious. After losing the second game of the back-to-back-to-back contests, Charlotte built a big lead and held on in the last game, 8-7, to win the series 2-1.

Game 1: Charlotte 4, FIU 0

Charlotte pitcher Colton Laws only allowed three hits on the day, and the defense stepped up on the way to a 4-0 shutout win in the squad’s Conference USA opener. The Niners got on the board in the fourth inning when FIU’s pitcher, Robert Garcia, had a series of miscues. First, Charlotte’s TJ Nichting hit a double, which allowed Jackson Mims to score on an RBI. Soonafter, Garcia walked four straight Charlotte players in the same inning, leading to two more scores and a 3-0 Charlotte lead.

After those miscues, Garcia was soon replaced in the seventh inning, but the Niners scored again when Nichting hit a sacrifice bunt that allowed Brett Netzer to score. Nichting’s second RBI led to the final 4-0 winning margin.

“Offensively, we executed a hit-and-run and took advantage of a couple of miscues by their pitcher,” Charlotte coach Loren Hibbs said. “Being able to execute like that in the third inning was huge.”

Game 2: FIU 5, Charlotte 4

The FIU Panthers exacted some revenge in the second game, as the team mounted a comeback to win 5-4.

Things started off well enough for Charlotte, as TJ Nichting had yet another RBI gave them the lead in the first inning. Harris Yett homered in the fourth inning for Charlotte’s second score, and Charlotte had all the momentum.

Later, in the seventh, Nichting had a two-out hit that brought both Yett and Reece Hampton to give them a 4-1 lead. However, in the eighth inning, FIU came back on the strength of four straight runs. In addition to a one-out hit, FIU scored after Valdes notched a double. Lastly, a single allowed another FIU score before Charlotte committed two errors and surrendered unearned runs.

Now trailing 5-4, the Niners tried to tie the contest. A wild pitch led to runners in scoring position, but FIU struck out the final batters to escape with the win.

Game 3: Charlotte 8, FIU 7

The Niners ended their series in Miami with a 8-7 win and earned their 13th win of the season. FIU attempted yet another comeback, but this time, their effort was stifled by the Niners.

Charlotte got things going with TJ Nichting batting in two runners, a common theme of the weekend. Nichting’s RBIs brought Reece Hampton and Jackson Mims home and gave the visitors a 2-0 lead. Later on, Nichting stole home and Zack Smith knocked in a two-run homer.

Charlotte would score three more runs in the fifth inning as FIU committed a wild pitch and two walks, loading the bases and giving the Niners a commanding 8-0 lead. However, FIU was certainly not done.

The Panthers used a Charlotte error to their advantage, scoring an unearned run, before a flyout by Christian Kawam brought in another scorer. Trailing 8-2, FIU’s Jack Shaff hit a three-run homer to narrow the Charlotte lead to three, 8-5. FIU would score two more runs in the final inning to set up JD Prochaska’s dramatic, clutch strikeout to seal the win.

“We won two-out-of-three and had a chance to sweep a really good team,” Hibbs said. ” We ran out of gas late with back-to-back road series, but I’m proud of our guys for the way the dug down and finished the game off today.”

Charlotte will hit the diamond again on Tuesday as they will face an ACC opponent, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, at the BB&T Park in Uptown. The game will begin at 7 p.m.

Zach Timmons, better known as ZT, is a junior at UNC Charlotte. He is an English major and is also minoring in journalism. In his free time, ZT enjoys writing spoken word poetry, drawing, and making beats.