The Niners lost 9-6 (3-1) to in-state rival NC State (4-1) after a long and emotionally draining game. Niners fought back from a 5-0 deficit, but a pitching struggle lead to the top-25 ranked Wolfpack taking away the victory.
“We have to do a better job commanding the strike zone,” Head coach Loren Hibbs said. “We have to do a better job moving around playing defense and have our RBI guys have better at-bats in situations when we have runners in scoring position. It was good to come up here and play a really good team on the road, we’ll see if we learn from it and I think we will.”
A defensive shootout ensued for the first four innings, but Brock Deatherage broke the ice with a triple in the bottom of the fourth inning. With two outs, Joey Cooner made a motion without throwing the ball which constitutes a balk and moved Deatherage home for the first run of the game.
The Wolfpack extended their 1-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth. Brad Debo lead the charge by getting on base with a double and another member of the Pack drew a walk placing two runners on with two outs. Shane Shepard brought both runners in with a stand-up double, making the game 3-0. Dillon Cooper and Josh McLain both drove in runs to create a 5-0 lead after six. All four of the runs brought in that inning came with two outs.
Charlotte responded in the top of the seventh. Jackson Mims stole second after knocking a single to left field. Harris Yett registered an RBI, bringing Mims in for the first Niner run of the game off a single. A wild pitch moved Yett 90 feet to second base, and was then brought home by Zack Smith’s double. With the score now 5-2 in favor of the Wolfpack, Dominic Cammarata drew a walk and Hunter Jones had a sacrifice fly that brought in Smith.
Todd Elwood got on base with a walk and then Tommy Bullock brought in Cammarata with an RBI double, 5-4. Reece Hampton cleared the bases with a two-run single that gave the 49ers their only lead of the day, 6-5.
The Niners sat down all three Wolfpack players with a three-up three down the bottom of the seventh, but the Wolfpack returned to secure their win with four runs in the final two innings.
Cooner lasted 5.2 innings on the mound with three hits and two runs. Philip Perry was dealt the loss after throwing 1.2 innings. The 49ers and NC State both used six pitchers during the outing.
Both teams excelled offensively with two outs on the board. Half of Charlotte’s runs and seven of NC State’s runs came under these circumstances.
“We told our kids at the end of the game this is the way it’s going to be,” Hibbs said. “We play a top-50 schedule every year so all we can do is make the adjustments we need to at Georgia on Friday.”
Charlotte continues their road-trip traveling to the University of Georgia for a three-game series. The series begins on Friday with first pitch set for 6 p.m. The entire three-game series can be viewed on ESPN 3.