Sophomore Josh Maciejewski did nothing but impress in his eight innings on the mound, striking out a career high eight Panther batters and surrendering only two runs on five hits, en route to a 6-2 Charlotte (11-9, 2-1 C-USA) victory in their first Conference USA series.
“Good start to conference play to win two games against a good offensive team,” said Head Coach Loren Hibbs after the victory. “I thought Josh’s change-up was pretty good today. I thought he competed.”
The 49ers were led by the bottom of their lineup all afternoon, as the first four batters for Charlotte did not issue one hit against the FIU pitching staff. Drew Ober, T.J. Nichting and Derek Fritz led the attack with two hits each, showing how complete the lineup is for Charlotte.
“[Derek] Fritz had a pretty good day in terms of putting good swings on the ball,” said Hibbs. “[Zach] Jarrett had some good swings too. Our guys were joking with them about getting into the weight room because neither one of those balls got out. But if you hit a ball to center here, you have a lot of juice on it.”
Charlotte’s high-powered offense got started in the fourth inning where they jumped out to a three run lead after Ober and Nichting both started off the inning with singles. Jarrett brought in the first two runs with a triple that hit off the bottom of the wall in dead center, with Fritz following that up with a single to bring in Jarrett.
Maciejewski struck out all three batters in the fourth inning, mixing in his curve, change, and fastball in great fashion throughout his eight innings on the mound.
The left-handed pitcher out of Morrisville, NC had a rough inning in the sixth, giving up two runs on four hits, but getting plenty of support in the seventh from Charlotte’s offense to keep him in the game.
Brett Netzer led off the inning, reaching on an error to short and advancing to third off a single from Ober. Nichting followed Ober with a single of his own, bringing in Netzer to score the fourth run of the game for the 49ers.
The beard man, Fritz, knocked in Ober and Nichting with a double off the center field wall, creating a comfortable lead for Maciejewski, 6-2.
Holden Capps got the call out of the bullpen in the ninth, as Maciejewski received a standing ovation from fans in attendance at Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium on the way to the dugout.
“It’s a grind,” said Hibbs. “You don’t win a conference championship on the first weekend and you don’t lose one on the first weekend. There are a lot more games to go.”
After winning their first C-USA series against FIU, Charlotte will travel to Wake Forest on Tuesday at 6 p.m.