The Charlotte 49ers earned a split on the final day of its conference regular season, dropping game one 5-3 and winning 10-3 in game two at La Salle Saturday at Hank DeVincent Field. The win gives Charlotte 17 Atlantic 10 Conference wins and guarantees Charlotte a bye and a top-two seed in the tournament. Charlotte is 38-12 on the season, winners of four-straight conference series, finishing with a 17-7 A-10 record. La Salle is 26-22, 12-9 in league play. La Salle and 11 other A-10 teams play their final league series next weekend. The 49ers still have a shot at their fourth conference title in five seasons, but will not have a direct hand in that result.
Sophomore third baseman Shane Basen (Waxhaw, N.C. / Marvin Ridge HS) had a triple and scored on a groundout from first baseman Kevin Gillespie (Bedford, Ind.) and senior second baseman Corey Shaylor (Charlotte, N.C. / Independence HS) belted his team-leading fifth home run of the season as the 49ers jumped out to a 2-0 lead after four innings.
After the Explorers scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth, Basen hit his first homer of the season and the second of his career to left to tie the game at three.
The 49ers had chances in the eighth to score, but got picked off at third with one out and failed to score with two on and one out.
La Salle got a two-out double with two on in the bottom half to drive in two runs and take the game-one victory.
Charlotte was outhit for the second time in the series, collecting just six hits to La Salle's nine.
La Salle reliever Kevin Christy got the win in relief (6-2). He pitched two-thirds of an inning, allowing one hit and recording one strikeout. Closer Pat Christensen earned his league-leading 13th save of the season. He allowed a hit in a scoreless ninth inning.
The loss went to Charlotte starter Joe Yermal (4-2). He lasted seven innings, but gave up a pair of hits in the eighth that resulted in the go-ahead runs. He was tagged for four earned runs on eight hits and a walk, with six strikeouts.
Redshirt junior Ross Steedley (Granite Quarry, N.C. / East Rowan HS) set a career high with four RBI in the game-two win. He blasted a two-run homer in the first and recorded a two-RBI single in the second as Charlotte jumped out to a 5-0 lead. The 49ers are 14-0 when scoring in the first inning this season.
Shaylor tied his career high and the team season high with four hits in the contest and senior outfielder Justin Wilson scored a game-high three runs as the 49ers put up 14 hits.
Freshman starting pitcher Tyler Barnette (Hickory, N.C. / Hickory HS) improved to 8-1 after allowing one earned run in six innings on six hits and a pair of walks. He struck out four and lowered his season earned run average to 1.85.
Explorers starter Shane Petrellis was tagged for the loss (3-4). In just 3.1 innings, he allowed eight hits and five earned runs, with two walks and two strikeouts.
The Niners scored single runs in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. The 49ers are outscoring opponents 101-41 after the sixth inning this season.
If Dayton records two or more wins in next weekend's home series versus Rhode Island, Charlotte will win the conference title outright. If Rhode Island gets the weekend sweep, they will be conference champions, bumping the 49ers to the number-two seed in the tournament. Two wins by the Rams will create co-champions, but the 49ers win a tiebreaking scenario for seeding with URI by virtue of the 2-1 home series victory back in March.
Charlotte plays its final home game of 2011 on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. against Winthrop.
The 49ers have the conference bye weekend coming up and will head to Texas to take on Dallas Baptist in a three-game series beginning next Thursday.
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