The Charlotte 49ers (9-3) lost the final game of the series to Xavier 7-6 Sunday afternoon at Hayes Stadium, giving up five home runs along the way, but still walk away from the weekend with a series victory heading into spring break.
“We never really got in a rhythm,” head coach Loren Hibbs said. “We didn’t play as well as we have been playing for the last week or so. Give Xavier credit, they came out very very aggressive and ran some really good arms out there at us.”
Xavier jumped on the board early, trying to avoid the series sweep against the Niners, using a two-run home run to right field from Joe Gellenbeck off of Zach Flanagan to give them an early 2-0 lead.
Charlotte answered with three runs in the bottom half of the first inning, as Reece Hampton led off the inning by getting hit in the knee on a 1-2 pitch. After a fly out from Brett Netzer, Mims singled to left field, putting runners at first and second for Logan Sherer. Charlotte’s five-hole hitter hit a ball off of the end of the bat to second base, as Sam Flamini let it go right underneath his glove, scoring Hampton and Mims to tie the game, 2-2.
Sophomore Drew Ober followed that with a double down the right field line, as Sherer hustled around to the plate from first to give Charlotte the 3-2 lead in the first.
Nate Soria tied the game in the top of the second with a solo shot to to left field off of Flanagan to tie the game, followed by a home run in the third off Gellenbeck’s bat to left-center, giving the Musketeers a one-run lead, 4-3. Flanagan exited after the third inning, giving up four runs on six hits, including three doubles and three home runs.
The Niners answered again with a run of their own in the bottom of the third, as Sherer led off the inning with a walk. A few batters later with Sherer on third base, Harris Yett singled through the left side to score Sherer, tying the game, 4-4.
Two batters later, Hampton reached on a fielder’s choice to second base, scoring Jarrett from third after he reached on a fielder’s choice earlier in the inning, giving the Niners a 5-4 lead.
Freshman Matt Brooks got the call out of the bullpen for Charlotte, throwing 3.1 innings of four-hit ball, striking out two batters on 42 pitches. Attempting to go for the lefty-lefty match-up, J.D. Prochaska (L, 1-1) came in to pitch in the seventh and struck-out Gellenback but gave up a home run to the next batter, Rylan Bannon, tying the game, 5-5.
Phillip Perry surrendered a two-run home run in the top of the eighth, putting the 49ers in a two-run hole going into the bottom of the ninth. Charlotte threatened in the ninth, as T.J. Nichting smoked a one-out double to left-center, followed by a single through the right side off the bat of Ober. The single from Ober scored Nichting to make it a one-run deficit for the Niners, but Charlotte’s luck ran out, losing the final game of the series, 7-6.
The 49ers will travel to North Carolina A&T Tuesday at 4 p.m. before they head to East Carolina for a three-game weekend series.