Charlotte looked to get back to its winning ways on Saturday, April 13 when they took on Rice in the second and third games of a three-game series that started on Friday, April 12. After losing the first game 19-4, the Niners hoped to bounce back strong against its Conference USA foe. The games were up in the air initially when inclement weather rolled into the Charlotte area and threatened to cancel the Saturday double header, but as the day progressed, the weather cleared, paving the way for a Saturday double header.
Game 1: Charlotte 6, Rice 5
The first game of the double header started with a home run from Rice’s own Trei Cruz who seemed to carry over some momentum from Friday evening. Bryce McGowan started on the mound for Charlotte allowing the opening home run but was able to settle in shortly after. After the opening homer, McGowan was able to fly out the last batter for Rice and move into the bottom of the first with a 1-0 deficit.
Rice’s defense continued to dominate in the first inning when starting pitcher Evan Kravetz stuck out two Niner batters before getting the third batter to fly out into centerfield. In the top of the second, McGowan continued to settle in, allowing one hit in four at bats and ending the inning after a Justin Collins fly out to center field. As the Charlotte defense began to grow confident, the 49ers looked to its offense for help which came in the bottom of the third inning.
After a quick top of the third for Rice, Charlotte began to come alive on offense when Tommy Bullock singled to right center field. Next, Jacob Whitley reached on a fielding error allowing Bullock to advance to second. Bullock would eventually score and notch the game at 1-1 when Todd Elwood singled to the left side of the field for an RBI. Harris Yett followed this with a fly out to right field ending the third inning.
Charlotte carried this into the fifth inning when Bullock started the inning by being hit by a pitch. Whitley then reached first from a throwing error allowing Bullock to advance to second. After Tate Pennington struck out swinging, Drew Ober doubled down the right field line, bringing in Whitley and Bullock and making the score 3-1. Once Charlotte got the lead in the fifth, they continued to build on it throughout the game while Rice tried to crawl back into the game.
In the top of the eighth inning, Rice managed to bring in three runs off a single hit after a batter was hit by a pitch and another was walked. This set up two RBI’s when Edwards of Rice recorded a triple, brining in two and making the score 4-3. Rice ended the inning with another run when Cade Edwards scored on a throwing error.
After a Dominick Cammarata score in the bottom of the eighth, Charlotte needed two to win the game outright in the ninth. With two outs and two on base for the Niners, Cammarata came to the plate needing two to extend the game. Instead, he blasted a single up the middle allowing Elwood and Ober to score, making the game 6-5 and ending it in walk off fashion. After a roller coaster of an afternoon, both teams looked toward the second game which started just a few minutes after game one finished up. It seemed to show as well when Charlotte went into game two with a rejuvenated attitude while Rice looked a bit emotionally defeated.
Game 2: Charlotte 4, Rice 0
Game two kicked off just after 8 p.m. eastern time. Carson Pinkney started on the mound for Charlotte while Jackson Parthasarthy started for Rice. After a quick first inning for Rice, Charlotte’s offense continued to amaze as Yett was able to homer to the left field and give Charlotte a 1-0 lead. Both teams seemed a little tired from game one as the first three and a half innings saw 24 batters, three hits and one lone run from both teams combined. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Rafi Vasquez led off at the plate with a homer to left center field, giving Charlotte a 2-0 lead off of nothing but home runs.
Rice got out of the inning without suffering any more damage on the defensive end and started down a 2-0 hole when they took the plate for the top of the fifth. Alas, Rice’s offense was still reeling and was only able to get one hit from seven batters in the inning.
Charlotte extended its lead in the bottom of the sixth inning when Carson Johnson doubled down the left field line for an RBI, bringing in Austin Lynch to push the lead to 3-0 for the Niners. Rice then followed in the top of the seventh inning by allowing three outs in three batters when Dominic Cox struck out swinging before Brandt Frazier and Braden Comeaux grounded out to end the inning.
Yett continued his strong outing when he homered for the second time on the day to right field after an Elwood single to left that saw him thrown out at second base. This pushed the lead to 4-0 on the day and proved to be to much for Rice who were unable to get anything going on the offensive end.
Rice ended the day having allotted three hits and no runs while Charlotte ended with 10 hits and an astounding three home runs. Charlotte also won their second game in a row for the first time since mid-March and snapped a five-game losing streak in their first win of the day over Rice.
Charlotte is now 14-20-1 on the year and 5-9-1 in conference play. Their next game will be against Gardner-Webb on Tuesday, April 16 when they welcome them to Hayes Stadium at 6 p.m.