Charlotte took on Kent State at Hayes Stadium over the weekend in a three-game series that was originally supposed to start on Friday, March 1. However, due to inclement weather that carried over the weekend, Friday’s outing was cancelled and moved to Saturday, creating a double header that would not disappoint.
Game 1: Charlotte 1, Kent State 0
Charlotte came into the game with a 4-4 record looking to get back on track after a 1-4 five-game stretch. Matt Brooks started on the mound for the Niners looking to continue his strong season with a third straight victory.
Brooks started out the game by flying out two batters and allowing one hit in the first inning. This defensive momentum would carry on throughout the game as Brooks would go on to hold Kent State scoreless through 6.2 innings pitched and would only allow four hits throughout. As Brooks held Kent State’s batters in check, Charlotte looked to awaken its offense in the second inning.
After a scoreless first inning for the Niners, Drew Ober followed up a Rafi Vasquez strikeout by singling to first base. Next up, Carson Johnson singled through the left side allowing Ober to advance to second. After Jake Whitcomb grounded out allowing Ober and Johnson to advance, Josh Haney singled to the short stop allowing Ober to score. Charlotte would have taken a 2-0 lead on the play had Kent State’s defense not thrown out Johnson as he attempted to run home on the same play, ending the inning and giving Charlotte a 1-0 lead into the third.
That one run would prove vital in the game as neither Charlotte nor Kent State would score another run the remainder of the game.
Chase Gooding came on for the last out of the game, getting him his third save of the year and giving Charlotte its fifth win of the season.
Charlotte ended the game with nine hits opposed to Kent State’s four.
The game was immediately followed by game two of the series at Hayes Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Game 2: Charlotte 7, Kent State 2
Charlotte looked to carry over its game one success into the second bout of the afternoon and wake up a little more on the defensive end while continuing the defensive success from earlier in the day.
Game two would feature three pitchers for the Niners as Bryce McGowan started the game and pitched the first five innings. McGowan started out strong for Charlotte as he was able to hold Kent State scoreless for the first four innings before giving up the first run in the top of the fifth from a double that allowed one of Kent State’s batters to score. However, by the time Kent State got on the board, the game was already well out of reach as Charlotte’s offense had come alive and was dominating the game.
The Niners started the game off with a single from Johnson to right center followed up by a Haney fly out to infield. After a Harris Yett single that saw Johnson thrown out at second, Ober singled to the pitcher allowing Yett to score off of a throwing error by the third baseman. Next up, Vasquez was walked by the pitcher. This was immediately followed by a Tommy Bullock double down the line that allowed both Ober and Vasquez to score, pushing the lead to three. Finally, Jesse Gonzales singled up the middle allowing Bullock to score extending the lead to 4-0 and ending a busy first inning for the niners.
After a three-out-five-batter second inning that saw Haney and Yett single to the left side, Charlotte continued its offensive display in the third inning when Vasquez started off the inning with a single to the left side which was followed by a walk for Bullock after being hit by a pitch. Vaquez later scored when the pitcher threw a wild pitch towards Carter Foster. Charlotte wrapped up the inning with Patrick Wheeler’s line out to center field that saw Bullock score, pushing the lead to 6-0.
The Niners were able to maintain the lead throughout the rest of the afternoon in a day that saw Kent State score two runs off of seven hits. Charlotte ended the seven-run day with 10 hits and five RBI’s.
Joey Cooner and Patrick Szczypinski combined for four innings-pitched to end the game and get the victory for Charlotte who moved to 6-4 on the season and looked to sweep Kent State out of Hayes Stadium on Sunday morning.
Game 3: Charlotte 3, Kent State 5
On an overcast Sunday, March 3 that saw heavy rain later in the afternoon, Hayes Stadium played host to a baseball game that morning in which Charlotte tried to overcome a slow start to finish off a series sweep against Kent State. However, the Niners wouldn’t be so lucky after a tough fifth inning that left Head Coach Loren Hibbs shaking his head.
Carson Pinkney started the game off on the mound for the Niners. It looked to be a strong outing for Pinkney who held Kent State scoreless for four innings before the Golden Flashes went on a fifth inning tear that led to Coach Hibbs bringing in Colby Bruce for a relief effort. Kent State started out the top of the fifth of a scoreless affair by singling to center field. This began a fifth inning for Kent State that would see three hits and four runs while Charlotte allotted two errors by the infield. The Niners were able to get one back in the bottom of the fifth when Dominick Cammarata homered to left field to start the inning, but Charlotte was unable to further capitalize off this and ended the inning facing a 4-1 deficit.
Kent State extended the lead to 5-1 in the seventh inning after Cam Touchette singled up the middle, then stole second before scoring on a Ben Carew single to left field. Charlotte attempted to rally in the bottom of the eighth inning when Carson Johnson was able to score off of a Foster fly out to the infield and Yett was able to score off a Cammarata single to the left side. This brought Charlotte within two runs as the score was 5-3 entering the ninth inning. However, Kent State’s defense held Charlotte in check for the last three outs and were able to secure their first victory of the weekend, stopping Charlotte three runs short of a series sweep.
Charlotte now looks ahead to Wednesday, March 6 in Fayetteville, Ark., where they will play a two-game series against the No. 13 team in the country. The Arkansas Razorbacks are coming off of a 15-7 win over Stony Brook while Charlotte will look to stay above .500 on the season. A big win against a top ranked team is exactly what could put Charlotte over the top and allow them to make a run towards the end of the season.