Trevor Wilt

Trevor Wilt is the co-sports editor for the Niner Times from Concord, North Carolina. He is a communications major with a journalism minor. Trevor also works with the campus radio station, Radio Free Charlotte, where he host his own sports show and also does play-by-play commentating for the men's and women's basketball teams.

Larry Ogunjobi Makes History

Larry Ogunjobi trying to get through the Marshall offensive line. Photo by Kathleen Cook

“With the 65th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns and the Dawg Pound select Larry Ogunjobi.” Those words muttered by former Brown’s wide receiver Josh Cribbs created history at UNC Charlotte Friday night, as Ogunjobi is now the first Charlotte football player to be selected in the NFL Draft.

“It hasn’t really hit me, yet. A bunch of mixed emotions,” said Ogunjobi in a statement. “It’s a blessing. It’s a blessing to be the first and to come out here and do what so many people said you couldn’t do. You see all my friends and my family around me. They’re a part of me. They’re the reason why I’m here. All the guys that helped me to reach this point. It’s crazy how it all happened. (I wear) No. 65 to be drafted as the 65th pick, the story just keeps getting better and I’m excited to see how it continues.”

After starting the 49er football program from scratch in 2013, the 6-foot-3, 305 pound defensive tackle from Greensboro, North Carolina marked plenty of firsts and set a plethora of records but this will definitely be the one that Niner Nation and the people that surround him will remember the most.

“We’re just really excited for Larry being taken in the NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns,” said head coach Brad Lambert. “He’ll bring a great work ethic to the Browns, just as he did here. He’s been a great representative of our university and continues to elevate our program. He worked extremely hard in pursuit of his goals and I know he’ll continue to work extremely hard at the next level. We could not be prouder of all that he has achieved and the type of player and person he has become.”

Ogunjobi leaves Charlotte as the 49ers all-time leader in tackles (217), tackles for loss (TFL) (49.0), sacks (13) and QB hurries (33). He became the first Charlotte player to participate in the NFL Combine, as long with being the first 49er to participate in the Reese’s Senior Bowl. Ogunjobi is the lone 49er to start all 46 games in program history, holding other records such as single-season leader in TFL (14.5, 2015) and sacks (5.0, 2014). The defensive tackle also was the first player to wear the honorary No.49 jersey in Charlotte’s Inaugural game against Campbell in 2013.

The Greensboro native joins the No.1 overall pick Myles Garrett and 25th pick Jabrill Peppers as the only other defensive players taken by the Cleveland Browns through the first three rounds of the NFL Draft. The Browns also drafted TE David Njoku with the 29th pick and grabbed QB DeShone Kizer from Notre Dame with their first pick in Round 2.

Women’s basketball star Grace Hunter transfers from Charlotte

Grace Hunter pushing the ball up the court for Charlotte. Photo by Ben Coon

Sources have confirmed, sophomore Grace Hunter is transferring from the Charlotte 49ers women’s basketball program, with there being no early indication as to where the Raleigh, North Carolina native will attend next season.

This comes as a big blow for the 49ers, as Hunter averaged a team-high 17.2 points per game, while grabbing a team-high 8.6 boards per game in her sophomore season. Hunter improved on her shot while at Charlotte, shooting just over 42 percent from three-point range her sophomore year, improving on her 24.4 percent from long range from her first year. Under head coach Cara Consuegra, Hunter also made progress at the charity stripe, knocking down 73.1 percent of her shots at the free throw line in her sophomore year, almost 20 points higher than her first season with 49ers. Hunter earned a spot on the All-Conference USA First Team in her sophomore season.

During her first year at Charlotte, Hunter earned All-Conference USA Freshman Team and was named the Conference USA Freshman of the Week a school-record five times. Hunter started 17 games in her freshman campaign in 31 appearances, while she averaged 11.0 points per game and 7.3 rebounds per game as a 5-foot-9 guard.

With the loss of Hunter and seniors Ciara Gregory (14.8 pgg) and Lefty Webster (13.2 ppg), the 49ers will look to find replacements for their three top scorers from last season.

Baseball drops series on the road to ODU

T.J. Nichting running the bases. Photo by Chris Crews

The Charlotte 49ers (16-12, 5-4 C-USA) dropped two out of three for the first time this season in Norfolk, Virginia to the Old Dominion Monarchs, as Colton Laws continued his dominance, securing his fourth win of the season Saturday afternoon.

Game 1

After Mother Nature won on Friday, the two teams were able to set up for a double header on Saturday, as Laws (W, 4-0) tossed 7.0 innings of four-hit baseball, striking out five batters and only allowing one run on 88 pitches. J.D. Prochaska (S, 2) only allowed one hit in two innings of relief on 28 pitches, giving Charlotte a close 3-1 victory to open the three-game series.

Logan Sherer got the Niners on the board when he singled up the middle to score T.J. Nichting, who recorded two hits and two stolen bases on the day. The 49ers added to their lead in the fourth inning, as Nichting got the inning started with a one-out single down the left field line. With two outs, Zack Smith cranked a ball over the fence in right to give Charlotte a 3-0 lead.

ODU got their only run in the bottom of the sixth, but the pitching of the Niners proved too strong for the Monarchs.

Game 2

It was a pitchers dual in the second game of the double header on Saturday, as Josh Maciejewski (L, 3-2) threw 5.0 innings, walked five, struck out four and gave up only three hits on one unearned run. Matt Horkey and Brandon Vogler also came in for Charlotte, each throwing over one inning and 20 pitches.

Adam Bainbridge threw a complete game, four-hit shutout, including seven strikeouts on 102 pitches for Old Dominion, picking up his Conference USA’s leading sixth win of the season.

The game was scoreless going into the bottom of the sixth, as ODU added on a run after a throwing error from Jackson Mims. The Monarchs scored their next run in the seventh on three hits in the inning, giving Bainbridge a two-run cushion.

Charlotte only recorded two hits in the second game of the double header, dropping the game 2-0, making for a rubber match in the Sunday finale.

Game 3

The rubber match played a lot like the second game of the series, with the Monarchs scoring their runs in the later innings in the pitchers dual. Zach Flanagan (L, 2-3) allowed two runs through 5.1 innings, striking out three batters on 66 pitches.

Matt Brooks allowed one run through 2.1 innings, as Prochaska came in and recorded one out with one strikeout.

In the sixth, ODU used a two-run home run from Vinnie Pasquantino to take the lead, proving to be the only runs needed for the Monarchs to take the C-USA series. The Monarchs scored one more run in the eighth, winning 3-0 and winning the series.

The 49ers finished the series not scoring in 23 consecutive innings after Smith’s home run in game one, while also being shutout in back-to-back games for the first time since April of 1990.

Charlotte will come back to Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium as they host Winthrop for a 6 p.m. first pitch.

Colton Laws delivering a pitch to the plate. Photo by Chris Crews

Despite scoring 10 unanswered, baseball loses 15-10 to NC State

Charlotte 49ers and NC State Wolfpack at BB&T Ballpark in Uptown. Photo by Chris Crews

The 49ers (15-10) and the Wolfpack (14-12) got into an absolute slugfest Tuesday night at BB&T Ballpark in Uptown, as Charlotte scored 10 unanswered runs but it was not enough as they fell 15-10.

“We dug ourselves way too big of a hole,” head coach Loren Hibbs said. “You can’t play uphill against a good team like N.C. State. We made it way too easy for them and you can’t get down that far and expect to win. We competed and battled back, but dug ourselves a big hole.”

The Wolfpack got on board early as they scored one run off of Jacob Craver (0-1) in the first, who completed 2.0 innings, giving up just that one run on two hits.

Philip Perry got the ball next for Charlotte, as NC State’s Joe Dunand hit a solo shot to left field to increase the lead to two. Brad Debo delivered at the plate for the Wolfpack later in the inning with bases loaded, clearing the bases with a double to give NC State a 5-0 lead. Catcher Andy Cosgrove extended the lead to seven runs with a two-run single up the middle in the fourth inning.

NC State didn’t let off the gas, scoring six runs in the fifth inning, giving them a 14-0 lead going into the bottom of the fifth. Charlotte responded with seven runs in the fifth inning, highlighted by a two-run double to left-center off the bat of Zach Jarrett. The 49ers drew a walk and two hit by pitches in the fifth frame, as Harris Yett, Brett Netzer and T.J. Nichting picked up RBI in the inning.

Charlotte kept chipping away at the 14-7 lead, scoring one in the sixth off of an error from NC State, cutting the lead to six. The Niners scored again in the seventh, as freshman Zack Smith led off the inning with a single. Yett drove in Smith with his second hit of the ball game to right field, followed by a dropped fly ball in left field that scored Sherer to cut the lead to 14-10.

NC State added on a run in the eighth inning, getting revenge on the Niners from a 6-5 loss earlier in the season in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Charlotte will travel to take on Conference USA’s No.1 team, the Old Dominion Monarchs, starting Friday at 6 p.m. in Norfolk, Virginia.

Brett Netzer and Reece Hampton coming together at the plate after scoring a run. Photo by Chris Crews

Mid-season report

Players exchange high-fives after a win. Photo by Chris Crews

In high school, taking AP classes were used to test your knowledge, work ethic, build your GPA and  separate yourself from other students to make it to a prestigious college. That’s exactly what the Charlotte 49ers are doing on the diamond this year, but their AP classes have come in the form of nationally ranked teams, such as No.6 NC State, No.4 South Carolina and No.8 East Carolina to reach their goal of making it into postseason play. And in the midst of the hardest schedule in program history, Charlotte’s passed the test of being a serious contender in Conference USA with their 15-9 (4-2 C-USA) start to the season. Here are the grades for the two main aspects of the game:

Pitching (B)

Under the direction of first-year pitching coach Shohn Doty, the Niners are sixth in the conference with a 4.31 ERA. The pitching staff has bought in to the new coach’s tactics, issuing only 62 walks, which is good for second in C-USA.

Colton Laws has been a straight-A student for Charlotte through six starts, compiling a 1.31 ERA, which is good for second in the conference and first among starters. Through 41.1 innings the redshirt sophomore has struck out 38 batters while allowing just six runs all season long.

Sunday starter Zach Flanagan is being overlooked by many but has grinded through his six starts with a 2.37 ERA. The redshirt junior from Tyler, Texas has had two games with eight strikeouts, with one of those games coming against Rider where he only gave up one run on three hits through six innings.

Josh Maciejewski has been solid every Saturday for the Niners, as he is 3-1 in six starts with a 4.38 ERA, working around a team-high 14 walks through 37.0 innings. Maciejewski’s season is highlighted by his 11-strikeout performance through 8.0 innings against Xavier, only giving up one run on four hits.

Having to preserve the outings from the three weekend starters, the bullpen is a tough job and Jonah Patten, Jacob Craver and Matt Brooks have been making it look rather easy. Patten is a hard throwing right-handed pitcher who is currently tied for third in the conference in saves with four. The junior college transfer has recorded 12 strikeouts in nine appearances, with a lot of those punch outs coming via slider.

Jacob Craver has been a reliable arm out of the bullpen for Charlotte, riding a 1.46 ERA through 12.1 innings. The left-handed pitcher has only allowed two runs and eight hits, as opposing hitters are batting five points below the “Mendoza Line” against him.

Freshman Matt Brooks has been a big piece to the Charlotte pitching staff, striking out 19 batters while only issuing three walks with a 2.89 ERA. He is tied for first on the team in appearances with 10.

Hitting (A) 

The 49ers have compiled 16 double-digit hit games, leading to their .305 team batting average, which is good enough for second in the conference. Under the direction of Bo Robinson and head coach Loren Hibbs, the 49ers have the least amount of strikeouts in C-USA with 121.

Charlotte is currently being led by six players who are batting over .300, with Jackson Mims leading the way with a .413 average. The ECU transfer is first in conference with 43 hits, second in runs scored with 28 and fourth in slugging percentage with .654. He also has added in four home runs and nine doubles, which leads us to Nichting.

The senior from Hamilton, Ohio is second in the conference in batting average .410, third in runs scored with 27 and second in RBI with 25. Nichting has also added in four home runs, eight doubles and a team-high five stolen bases.

Brett Netzer continues to impress in his junior season, batting .327 with nine doubles and two triples. Netzer’s vision at the plate and ability to hit the ball to every piece of the field makes him a dangerous hitter at all times.

Freshman Zack Smith has come on to the scene and made an immediate impact for the Niners in the middle of the lineup, showing patience at the plate with a team-high 16 walks. The freshman is currently batting .320 with a team-high .485 on base percentage.

Zach Jarrett is hitting .314 with four home runs and 16 RBI, getting off to a hot start in his senior campaign. The Hickory, North Carolina native has provided big hits midway through the lineup for the Charlotte offense.


Baseball gets dismantled by Wake Forest

Jacob Craver delivering a pitch to the plate against UNC Asheville. Photo by Chris Crews

The Charlotte 49ers (13-8) had no response for the Wake Forest (16-6) offense, losing 13-4 in a game that took over 24 hours to complete due to rain and lighting Tuesday night at BB&T Ballpark, forcing the teams to finish the last 6.2 innings at Charlotte’s Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium.

With runners at first and second and one out in the top of third, Ben Breazeale and Johnny Aiello picked up a RBI off of JD Prochaska to put the Demon Deacons up 2-0 when the game resumed Wednesday night. ACC’s Wake Forest was not done yet, adding on two more runs in the third to jump out to a four-run lead.

Mims helped get the 49ers on the board with a one-out double, as T.J. Nichting followed that with a single through the left side. On the play, Mims held up at third and Nichting got caught in a pickle between first and second, sliding in safely at second with a wild throw that almost went into the outfield. With two runners in scoring position, Logan Sherer walked to bring up freshman Zack smith, who delivered again for the Niners with a single into right-center field, scoring Mims and Nichting.

Wake responded with a three-run fifth inning behind a Keegan Maronpot three-run home run to left center off of Brandon Vogler to give the Demon Deacon’s a 7-2 lead.

After each team took a couple innings off on the offensive end, Wake made up for it in the top of the seventh, scoring six runs on four hits, increasing their lead to 13-2. The inning was highlighted by a grand slam from Logan Harvey and a two-run shot from Bruce Steel.

Charlotte tagged on two more runs in the bottom half of the inning, as Smith scored on a wild pitch and Brett Netzer singled up the middle to score Hunter Jones who reached on a double to left-center.

The 49ers will stay at home as they welcome the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs to Hayes Stadium for a three-game Conference USA series starting Friday at 6 p.m.

Ogunjobi talks character and process

Larry Ogunjobi attempting to get around a Marshall offensive lineman. Photo by Kathleen Cook

Some people wait their entire life to get the opportunity to showcase their talents in front of scouts to someday get drafted and play at the highest level the sport has to offer. Charlotte’s Larry Ogunjobi received that chance on March 5 in Indianapolis, becoming the first 49er to partake in the NFL Combine, before doing drills in front of a dozen NFL scouts on March 15 at Charlotte’s Pro Day. But with all his accolades he has received on the field, Ogunjobi breeds character and process.

Charlotte’s all-time leader in tackles (217), tackles for loss (49.0), sacks (13) and quarterback hurries (33), will now look to become the first ever Charlotte player chosen in the NFL Draft in late April.

With all the praise and attention the Greensboro, North Carolina native has received lately, one tweet caught the eye of Ogunjobi, Niner Nation and others that support him.

“True story: I want to see @Mr_Ogunjobi land on a team or the panthers. Only kid I know hit me on a consistent basis on how to become a pro,” Panthers defensive lineman said in a tweet.

Ogunjobi didn’t take that shoutout from one of the top defensive players for the Carolina Panthers for granted.

“There was a point in my career that I reached out to him and said, ‘I want to get to a position where you’re at. I want to be great. I want to be the best. I know it’s not about proving it to everybody else. It’s about proving it to myself. What do I need to do to take those next steps?’ So he made me a list, and I saved it in my phone. He didn’t have to, but he did. And for him to say that, it meant a lot because he’s a guy that I see Uptown every now and then and he was never like, ‘Yo, Who are you?’ He always said, ‘What’s up, Larry? How are you doing?’ It was always cool, but I felt like I had to earn respect. He knew I was there, he knew i was working. But it was like, ‘You’ve still got work to do.’ It’s almost like a big brother type of thing.”

With all the hype around Ogunjobi and what a “feel good” story he is in this year’s draft, there are still plenty of doubters that correlate his success with playing at a small school with lesser competition than defensive players from bigger conferences such as the SEC or ACC.

“Just because I went to Charlotte doesn’t mean anything,” Ogunjobi said. “If you take any of the defensive tackles out of this draft, no matter what school they go to and tell them to come to Charlotte and ask them to do the things I did, they couldn’t.”

Ogunjobi scratched a few of the people off the list that questioned his performance with his showing at the NFL Combine, running a 4.97-second 40-yard dash, hitting 26 repetitions (of 225 pounds) on bench press, recording a 32-inch vertical and registering a 7.55-second 3 cone drill and a 4.75-second time on the 20-yard shuttle.

“He’s a guy that not many people know about,” NFL Analyst Mike Mayock said. “I think he’s a talented guy and he’s probably a second-round pick and he’s got some real quick one-gap possibilities.”

Mayock and other analysts have the 6-foot-4, 304-pound defensive tackle going as high as the second round in the draft.

Knowing what he can do on the field, many analysts have talked about how his character has separated him from other candidates in the draft, something that Ogunjobi prides himself on.

“I’ve always been a big advocate of what you do off the field is what will show up on the field,” Ogunjobi said. “Adversity breeds good character. I’ve played the role where you were the person that wasn’t important and the person who was on the sidelines that nobody knew about. I’ve been that guy. And I understand what hard work and dedication can do for somebody. How effort counts twice. Some scout walked up to us and said, ‘I know you guys are used to being the fastest and most talented athletes when you were growing up.’ Not me. I was 350 pounds and couldn’t get into a football stance. Everything I have, I’ve worked for. God has blessed me. My character also comes from my parents because they would tell me to respect people and treat them the right way.

During an interview with multiple media representatives, Ogunjobi said, “You are important and I have to treat you as such. Just because I don’t know you, there are people in this world that care about you dearly that would do anything for you and who am I to try and short change you. I have to treat you with that same respect because that’s how I want you to treat me. I think the biggest thing in life is how you treat people and how you make people feel. You have to make people feel important because they are. That’s why I take pride in my character and reach out to people and try to make other people feel better.”

Exceptional talent. Exceptional character. Exceptional story. Get to know the name Ogunjobi, you’ll hear it on draft day.

Charlotte baseball pours it on UNC Asheville at home

Zach Jarrett swinging at the plate. Photo by Chris Crews

The Charlotte offense clicked on all cylinders Tuesday night against UNC Asheville, cranking out a season-high 17 hits and 14 runs at Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium, backed by a 4-for-5 day at the plate for Zach Jarrett, including a two-run home run and career-high five RBI.

“Guys came ready to play,” head coach Loren Hibbs said. “We came out of the shoots really swinging the bats well and played good defense in adverse conditions and I’m just proud of the effort.”

The Bulldogs (7-8) came out strong in the top of the first against Charlotte’s Sean Geoghegan, as the redshirt senior allowed a three-run home run to Brandon Lankford with one out, digging the 49ers into an early hole. The Niners responded in the bottom half of the inning as Reece Hampton walked to lead things off. After a groundout from Brett Netzer to send Hampton back to the dugout, Jackson Mims singled to right-center to put runners at first and second. T.J. Nichting followed Mims’ single with one of his own, setting up a bases loaded situation for Jarrett.

The senior from Hickory singled through the right side to bring in Netzer and Mims, with Asheville still up 3-2. Logan Sherer kept the team hit-streak going in the first, singling up the middle to score Nichting. Freshman Zack Smith recorded the fifth-straight hit for the Niners’ offense, scoring Jarrett for the fourth run of the inning. Charlotte scored the last run of the inning after a groundout from Hunter Jones to the second baseman, scoring Sherer.

Charlotte (11-6) kept the ball rolling in the second inning, as Mims recorded his second hit of the day to left field, stealing second on the next pitch. On the second pitch of the at-bat, Jarrett hit a long home run to center field, giving the 49ers a 7-3 lead. After singles from Sherer and Smith, Jones singled down the right field line to score Sherer to give Charlotte an 8-3 lead after two innings.

Jacob Craver got the call out of the bullpen for Charlotte, throwing 2.2 innings, only giving up two hits and striking out three batters. When Craver took over, the 49ers continued to pour it on UNC Asheville in the third and fourth innings, putting up two in the third and three in the fourth. Nichting’s triple highlighted the third inning, as Jarrett and Sherer both picked up another RBI. Netzer became the ninth Charlotte batter to record a hit Tuesday night, smacking a three-run home run down the right field line to give Charlotte a 13-3 lead.

The 49ers scored one more run in the fifth and rode the arm of freshman Colby Bruce (W, 1-0) through the next 3.1 innings, striking out three batters along the way. Asheville tagged on two runs in the eighth off of Bruce, as Austin Wynn capped off the night with a perfect ninth inning, recording his first strikeout of the season.

The Niners will pack their bags as they travel to Florida International to take on the Panthers for a three-game series starting at 7 p.m. Friday night in Miami, Florida.

Transfer chronicles

Jackson Mims awaiting a pitch to the plate. Photo by Chris Crews

American Legion Post 82 in Shelby, North Carolina. That’s where you could have likely found Charlotte’s third baseman Jackson Mims in high school. Shelby, according to Mims, is “known for their baseball and barbecue.” Although barbecue in Shelby is delicious, head coach Loren Hibbs is happy Mims wanted a future in playing baseball rather than working at a barbecue restaurant.

“Mims was excited to play and prepared the right way,” Hibbs said. “He got his work done last year, had a great summer and now he’s going to be a big part of what he want to do moving forward.”

For those that do not know, American Legion baseball is a league that is played over the summer for mostly high school kids, with the ages ranging from 13-19. Legion provides ball players with a chance to compete with and against people you played in high school and also different competition from around the state. Legion teams are a veterans service organization, committed to mentoring youth and good sportsmanship among those who are involved and to advocate patriotism and honor to those who have served our great country.

After having a few successful seasons in Legion ball, Mims knew that he had a chance to play in college and with enough peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, complements of his father, Darryl, to build muscle to catch up with his growing body, scouts started to take notice.

East Carolina University and head coach Billy Godwin, who is now a scout in the New York Yankees organization, started to recruit the junior at Shelby High School, recognizing Mims’ versatility in the field and at the plate. It didn’t take long for ECU to offer and it didn’t take long for Mims to commit.

“I just jumped on the board early,” Mims said. “I committed my junior summer and I thought I was on top of the world.”

Before heading to ECU, Mims went on to win the 2014 American Legion state championship, being named the area four hitter of the year and leading his Shelby team to a 44-4 record. Once Legion ball and high school ball was over, Mims made his way to Greenville, North Carolina, and became a Pirate.

Jackson Mims taking a lead at second base. Photo by Chris Crews

“There were some tough times and it was hard and coach Godwin pushed us really hard but he made you better and got the most out of you,” Mims said. “It was a good learning experience to go off and do things by yourself.”

After batting .280 in 100 at bats and starting 36 games his freshman season, Mims wanted to take his experiences that he learned in Greenville and bring them a little bit closer to home. A few hours closer to home.

“After the regional,” Mims said about the time when he knew he wanted to transfer. “I started playing in the CPL (Coastal Plain League) and it was just in my mind the whole time. It was a tough decision and something I had to do. So I called coach Godwin and got my release and I started sending stuff to other schools and I knew of UNC Charlotte and I knew of Bo Robinson and he actually came to a Coastal Plain League game and told me that they had room for me.”

Due to NCAA transfer rules, Mims had to sit out through the entirety of the 2016 season, being able to get in the weight room and work on things at third base with senior third baseman Derek Gallello.

“I was able to kind of relate to Jackson because I had a redshirt year when I was in college (Wichita State) and I told Mims that it was hard to sit on the bench,” Hibbs said about Mims’ redshirt season.

After learning from Gallello at third and playing more baseball during the summer with the Gastonia Grizzlies, Mims finally got to put on the Charlotte jersey with the teammates he loves, playing the game he loves.

“This is something that I’ve loved my whole life and I still love it and these guys are awesome,” Mims said. “They welcomed me with open arms and I can’t thank coach Hibbs enough. He made me feel at home from day one and so did the players. These are guys that you are going to have at your wedding. You’re going to be friends with them for life. That’s the most fun thing about baseball is being with all these guys and having fun.”

By the way he is playing, batting .388 with six doubles, one triple, three home runs and 10 RBI, it looks like Mims has found his home at Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium.w

Baseball loses 2-of-3 to No.8 ECU

Colton Laws throwing a pitch to the plate. Photo by Chris Crews

The Charlotte 49ers (10-6) lost 2-of-3 to the No.8-ranked East Carolina Pirates (12-4) over the weekend in Greenville, North Carolina, despite winning the first game 2-0 and then coming back from a six-run deficit in the second game to send it in to extra innings.

Game 1

Colton Laws got the start Friday night against his former team, punching out a career-high nine batters through 7.1 innings on the hill, only giving up three hits along the way. Jake Agnos of ECU threw 6.0 innings, walking four batters on 92 pitches, while only giving up five hits to the Charlotte batters.

Matt Brooks (W, 2-0) continued his stellar freshman campaign as he came in to finish what Laws started, getting two big outs to send the game into the ninth, squared up, 0-0. Zach Smith led off the inning with a double to right-center, as Todd Elwood came in to pinch run for Smith. Just two pitches later, Harris Yett delivered for the Niners, scoring Elwood on a single to left field.

A few batters later, Brett Netzer scored Yett from third base on a single to center field on a 3-2 pitch, giving the 49ers a 2-0 lead. Jonah Patten (S, 3) sealed the deal for Charlotte in the bottom of the ninth, striking out three batters to give the 49ers their second win this season over a top-10 team, proving to be the only time in program history.

Game 2

ECU jumped out to an early 6-0 lead through the first two innings, but couldn’t hold off Charlotte as the 49ers chipped away at the lead with one run in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings, trailing by four heading into the top of the ninth.

In the ninth, Reece Hampton led off the inning with a double, scoring on an error by the shortstop off the bat of Netzer to cut into the lead, trailing 4-7. Jackson Mims then hit a two-run home run to right field against his former team, as Charlotte only trailed by one run with one out. T.J. Nichting and Zach Jarrett both got on with singles to the outfield, as Smith approached the plate. After a quality at bat from Smith, he earned on a walk on the eighth pitch, only to see that pitch go to the backstop, scoring Nichting from third and tying the game up, 7-7.

ECU’s Charlie Yorgan hit a two-out, walk-off home run in the tenth to give the Pirates a 10-7 victory.

Game 3

Zach Flanagan started for Charlotte in the last game of the three-game series, throwing a career-high six innings and punching out eight Pirate batters. With a runner at third base in the first, ECU jumped out to another early lead behind a passed ball. ECU capitalized on a wild pitch as well in the seventh to score their second run of the game, as Charlotte’s bats went dead in the nightcap.

The 49ers earned their only two hits in the fifth and the eighth from Smith and Jarrett, but they were unable to be moved around or brought in.

The 49ers will come back home Tuesday night at 4 p.m. as they take on UNC Asheville.

Women’s basketball falls in C-USA quarterfinals to LA Tech

Lefty Webster driving to the lane. Photo by Kathleen Cook

The fifth-seeded Charlotte 49ers (21-10) couldn’t find their shot against Louisiana Tech (18-12) Thursday night in the Conference USA Quarterfinals, losing 66-55 to the fourth-seeded Lady Techsters inside Bartow Arena.

Senior guard Ciara Gregory led all scorers with 17 points, including five makes from behind the three-point line. With Gregory’s third three of the game, she became C-USA’s ingle season-leader in three-pointers made in a season. Grace Hunter added in 16 points while Nyilah Jamison-Myers chipped in with nine points and nine rebounds.

In the first quarter, Charlotte used two threes from Gregory to jump out to a 7-2 lead in the first two minutes of play, but the Lady Techters responded with a 5-0 run to tie the game up, 7-7, with 5:19 remaining in the first. After going scoreless over the next two minutes, Hunter got on the scoreboard with a layup, followed by an Amaya Ransom jumper to give the Niners a 15-11 lead. Charlotte led 17-14 after the first quarter, as senior Lefty Webster capitalized on a layup in the closing seconds to give Charlotte the three-point lead.

After a couple buckets from the 49ers, the Lady Techsters went on a 7-0 run with six minutes to go in the third to take the lead, 25-23. Hunter tied the game up with a jumper but LA Tech answered with a 9-2 run to increase their halftime lead to 34-27.

Coming out of the break, Hunter scored six straight point for the Niners, but the Lady Techsters stayed consistent on offense, as Kierra Lang knocked down a three-point shot to give the fourth-seeded Lady Techsters a 41-33 lead. The two teams went back-and-forth throughout the rest of the third quarter, as LA Tech held on to their lead, up by 11, 53-42 heading into the final frame.

Webster came out aggressive and hit back-to-back shots for Charlotte, cutting the lead to eight, but a three from Anna McLeod sent the lead back to 11 with six minutes to play. With 4:31 to go, Charlotte trailed 57-50 but that deficit doubled after five free throws and a made shot under the basket for LA Tech, now up 64-50. The 49ers got within nine points but LA Tech hit their free throws down the stretch to advance to the semi-finals on Friday.

Charlotte will have to wait until Monday night to see if they are picked to play in the postseason.

Men’s basketball loses heartbreaker to UAB in first round

Jon Davis rising up for the potential game-winning three against UAB Wednesday night in the first round of the Conference USA Tournament. Photo by Kathleen Cook

Jon Davis and Andrien White combined for 49 of Charlotte’s 73 points but it was not enough to complete the second half comeback in the first round of the Conference USA Tournament, falling to UAB 73-74 inside Legacy Arena.

“It was an extremely good basketball game,” head coach Mark Price said. “Our guys kept playing, kept fighting and kept ourselves in it and had to shot to win it there at the end. It’s disappointing. Anytime you lose a game like that, it’s disappointing. But I couldn’t be more proud of our guys and the effort they put forth today.”

Davis missed a jumper with 31 seconds left, down 70-72, but chased down Lee Williams Jr. of UAB on the other end of the court, poking the ball away from him and giving Charlotte what they thought was their last crack at taking the lead. Davis pushed the ball up the court and drove the lane, only to kick it out to White who was wide open in the left corner for three, knocking down the shot and giving the Niners a one-point lead with 12 seconds to go.

UAB marched right back down the court and threw up a wild shot that missed everything, but Lee was there to clean up the shot at the rim, giving the Blazers the one-point lead with six seconds left.

Charlotte inbounded the ball to Davis who rushed up the court and fired a three-pointer from about three feet from behind the arc, missing it short off the rim, sending the Blazers to the second round of the C-USA Tournament.

The Blazers got out to a hot start against the 49ers, taking an early 12-5 lead after a made layup from Chris Coakley. Charlotte took back the lead with a made three-point shot from White with 13:11 left in the first, one of his five threes on the night. The 49ers held on to their lead until Williams made a layup with 8:05 left in the first half, giving the Blazers a 24-23 lead.

Charlotte went scoreless from the field for 10 minutes to close the half, but only trailed 29-23 going into halftime.

After a pair of made free throws from Najee Garvin two minutes into the final half, Charlotte saw themselves tied with UAB, 31-31. The Blazers then created their biggest lead of the ballgame with 14:13 remaining after a made jumper from Tosin Mehinti, up by nine.

White helped cut the lead as he scored 10 straight points for the 49ers coming off of the bench with 9:33 to go, part of his 24 points on the night. With just over nine minutes remaining, White handed the keys over to Davis who knocked down shot after shot down the stretch.

Davis started to attack the lane and get to the rim at will, cutting the lead to one with 3:04 to go, backed by a couple threes from White and Braxton Ogbueze. After knocking down a three with :59 remaining from straight away to take the 70-69 lead, Lee scored the final five points for the Blazers to give them the one-point victory. Davis finished with 21 points in the second half for Charlotte.

PREVIEW: Men’s basketball eyes UAB in first round of C-USA tournament

Andrien White driving down the lane and to the rim. Photo by Chris Crews

The Charlotte 49ers (13-16, C-USA 7-11) will take on the UAB Blazers (16-15, C-USA 9-9) in the first round of the Conference USA tournament in Birmingham, Alabama, on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Legacy Arena.

The Niners met with UAB earlier this season on Feb. 9, as the Blazers pulled away in Birmingham with an 82-69 victory. Charlotte trailed 35-41 at the half as sophomore guard Jon Davis had 10 points and five rebounds after the first 20 minutes, as Andrien White and Hudson Price had six points each.

Davis continued his dominance in the second half with 14 points, but his 24 points on the day were not good enough as Charlotte’s defense allowed four players, including two bench players, to score in double digits. Chris Cokley scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds for UAB, as William Lee posted 15 points and grabbed 12 boards. The 49ers were outscored 28-52 in the paint and were also out-rebounded by 22, 26-48.

Lee leads the Blazers on the season with 14.7 ppg, including reeling in a team-high 7.2 rebounds per game. Cokley is second on the team in scoring with 12.3 ppg, as he brings in 5.7 rebounds per game. Charlotte will have to box out and limit offensive rebounds for the Blazers, who average 34.3 rebounds per game, out-rebounding their opponents by almost three rebounds per game.

Charlotte is led by Davis in scoring, averaging 19.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg and 4.0 apg. The sophomore from Upper Marlboro, Maryland, was named second-team All-Conference USA.

The 49ers and head coach Mark Price won their first game of the C-USA tournament last season against Rice, 79-61, led by 27 points from Davis, 19 points from Braxton Ogbueze and 12 points and 18 rebounds from Joseph Uchebo. After their first round win, Charlotte lost 61-79 to Middle Tennessee, who went on to win the tournament and upset No.2-seed Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament.

Charlotte won the 1999 and 2001 C-USA Tournament titles and are 17-11 all-time in the C-USA Tournament.

Baseball’s win streak snapped, still wins series against Xavier

Logan Sherer eyeing down a ball from the pitcher. Photo by Chris Crews

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.